Zero Carbon Wales – all possible by 2050

At the Zero Carbon Wales seminar today (which was most enjoyable) There were few new concepts, and of course this would be so, because we have all the technologies we need to power down society, we just don’t seem to have the collective will – either politically, industrially or individually. Our current trajectory is on the path to a warming of 4 degrees C, despite the Paris Agreement to limit warming to a more hospitable 1.5 degrees
Some items stood out:
  • The average domestic building consumes 10,000 kw/year, and this could easily be reduced to 4,000 kw/year
  • The infernal combustion engine is only 18 – 20% efficient. An EV will go 3 x as far per unit of energy.
  • 82% of the time our renewable energy generation meets total electricity demand.
  • Land use has to change dramatically, to grow less to support the animals we archaically slaughter to eat, and grow more to support actual human food needs as well as slashing CHG’s. That means putting 33% of land down to fruit and veg. Currently its 9%.
  • Trees are still the best carbon capture machines, and we need to plant a lot more of them.
  • Selective localisation of supply chains – after all, we still want bananas and chocolate!
  • A future where the weather forecast would include daily power generation stats. The presenter suggested this energy generation should be monetarized in terms of cash into the economy.

Personally I’m against the monetization of nature and would prefer energy generation to be in terms of percentage of energy needed. The energy needed will reduce as we embrace decent building standards, cleaner industries and efficient storage capacity, and therefore the percentage generated will become relatively higher, leading to a surplus by 2030.

There was an interesting workshop session in which we all wrote a postcard from 2045, bypassing  all strategies to get there, and spoke about our ideal world. My group was very keen on the community aspects, and apart from a (surprising) couple of sustainability fascists, there was a clear trend to a 3 day working week, a Citizens Income, localisation, smaller families, intentional communities, long life spans, end of life choices, and a healthy, active older age.

There was some discussion about what the best city in the world would look like ( currently my favourite is Freiburg in SW Germany, though far from perfect). In the future it could be Cardiff, or Bangor, or yes – even Newport! The mental imagery conjured up was most therapeutic.

We were brought down to earth by a comment summing up why we are here, and not there – in the cool sustainable future – ‘Government is a relic obstructing change.’ Now that was particularly sobering.

Interestingly there was a distinct lack of the socks and sandals combo amongst attendees – only one set in evidence. Could it be that shoes are now more comfortable? Or has the age of the eccentric activist left Cardiff for the open fields of wisdom.

On a brighter note, if you have the chance to read Zero Carbon Britain,  or even the summary, it is heartening stuff. It lives in the realms of the entirely possible. http://zerocarbonbritain.com/en/

 

 

 

The Power of Less – Policy on Waste in Wales


I had a most heartening morning at the well attended Policy on Waste in Wales forum today (which I as usual gatecrashed as I’m not about to pay £200 for the pleasure of having my own policies talked back to me). All those years of going to these things and asking the awkward questions seems to have paid off. This was evident in that a lot of people called me by name, and yes I did still ask awkward questions, but there were not so many of them as before. Policy makers are now thoroughly convinced of the necessity for a circular economy (or closed loop system). Of note was the humanising of waste systems – with an extra 4000 jobs in the pipeline and 30,000 jobs in the ultimate Welsh circular economy, the fact that politics is holding back investment and that waste regulation assumes that waste has no value -which of course is a ludicrous concept. On a planet with finite resources everything has a value. Importantly it became clear that waste – on any level – is a failure of imagination.

Re-manufacturing was a big subject, abolishing built in obsolescence and increasing producer responsibility in manufacture, particularly in packaging is finally acceptable.

To hear more than one speaker talking about getting us to a one planet economy by 2050 was music to my ears, so the intention is there even if the framework needs much to be desired. There was much dependence on the Well Being of Future Generations Act, to sort things out. I hope it does, but am not optimistic on this particular point.

Today, we definitely talked the talk. I hope that tomorrow we will walk the walk.

Finally a word on gender balance. It was stunningly even. This is the first time I have been to a Policy seminar which was not criminally overwhelmed by men in suits. I have to wonder if this is a true sign of changing times, or whether the subject matter of waste and all the implications arising from abolishing it, has touched the imagination of the female of the species, and spurred them to take part for the common good. The panels weren’t quite gender balanced, but I get the feeling we are at last on the way to equal representation in all strata of society.

So congratulations to the organisers for bringing me a Green morning in every way.

Cladding – the wallpaper over the cracks of government.

Cladding, the wallpaper over the cracks, the cosmetic covering of the ills of our day, the superficial substance masking all that is rotten. Grenfell tower, like hundreds of other, similar blocks, hides beneath it’s nice shiny surface an unsafe home. The real job of this cladding was to hide poverty.

Government, clad in the veneer of an unsafe agreement with the DUP hides beneath it a different poverty. Moral poverty. Consumerism is but the cladding of an unsafe society, doomed to know the price of everything, but the value of nothing. Banking is the unsafe veneer of an economic system fanning the flames of the ever widening gap between rich and poor.

Some have too much to share, some have too little not to share. We are a precarious society teetering on the brink of meltdown. The gentle manners of the poor are all that lies between the superficial cladding of law, and the unravelling structure of governance purporting to hold us all up.

I am revolted by the way our poor and our homeless are treated. Expendable, something to be swept under the carpet (or of course the cladding). There is enough money for anything the government wants to spend it on. Just gather the taxes properly, and tax efficiently. It seems everything from Trident to tax breaks are affordable, but not morality.

The UK is the 6th richest country in the world. Tell that to the survivors of Grenfell. and if they were less magnanimous, they would spit in your face.

An Open Letter to Voters

Pippa Bartolotti

There is “no magic money tree”. Britain is only the 5th richest country in the world on measures of GDP, not the real wealth of nations. Britain’s “money tree’ rests on the decaying roots of a three-planet economy which is by its nature unsustainable, as is the debt-based bubble which has been inflated, and will inevitably crash, again. Our present economy cannot endure whilst May and Corbyn keep their eyes fixed on the rear view mirror.

The only really progressive thinking on not just the NHS but social care, education and indeed the entire public sector is taking place in and around the Green Party, yet another reason for voting Green, not Labour.

It’s not really about Theresa May’s barbarism vs. Jeremy Corbyn’s socialism. The reasons for supporting Corbyn do not address the real problems we face. Labour has failed down the decades to deliver the changes we really need because they are loyal supporters of the status quo.

Labour backers recognise that the party has many imperfections which can be sorted out later. But there might not be any ‘later’.  The big challenges of potentially catastrophic climate change, the liquidation of biodiversity, rampant deforestation, rapid soil erosion, the killing of the oceans, toxic and radioactive overload, hovering new pandemics etc. all are happening right now. They are all linked by one thing: too big a human footprint. A reduction to sustainable levels is priority number one. It cannot be left until later. Later will be too late. None of these threats to collective peace and security are mentioned by any wing of the Labour Party

All past attempts to transform the Labour Party into a different creature have failed: Keep Left, Bevanism, Tribune group, ’Militant’/RSP, Bennism, etc. Labour failed to use the 2008 financial crisis as an opportunity to pursue radical changes to a widely discredited banking system. They support most conventional ‘development’ strategies such as nuclear power, high-speed trains, Crossrail, airport expansion, green belt grabs and trident submarines.

But let’s assume that Labour might actually be open to new ideas despite all the incompatible ideological baggage it carries (and the deadweight influence of the big trade unions promoting nuclear etc). A strong Green vote is the best means to exert such pressure. A low Green vote will encourage the worst recidivism in Labour.

We need to hear from both Labour and Tories what kind of society we are really trying to build. Last year, sales of SUVs soared in Britain while the average spent on weddings was apparently £30,111 (according to ‘Brides’ magazine). That’s not a society I could defend. How about the 10 million pigs, over 15 million sheep, 16 million turkeys, 14 million ducks and geese, 975 million broiler chickens, 40 million so-called ‘spent’ hens , over 2.6 million cattle and 4.5 billion fish killed every year? Perhaps we need a bit more clarity about what kind of society we are trying to build.

Many small ‘c’ conservative are decent people, often wanting the best for society but believing there are better means to that end than what Labour offers. Writing off millions of voters as one ignorant lump scarcely makes it any the easier to try and win at least some over. After all, a society dedicated to the sustainable common good cannot be built without some Tory supporters changing loyalties.

May’s posturing on Brexit is likely to be utterly counter-productive. A vote on such a momentous deal is a very reasonable demand, given its consequences for all Britons. Yet it is far from clear negotiations will actually precede on straightforward ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ lines. Extreme weather events, another financial crash, regional wars, and other such shocks could utterly transform the context and throw everything out of kilter. The Brexit/Remain debate would then become a sideshow. In any case it might be remembered that, historically, Labour’s critique of the EU has been based on a certain ‘Little Englander’ politics, with no vision of, say, a ‘Europe of Regions’, with radical subsidiarity and localisation

Many people rightly celebrate the achievements of the NHS, yet the old NHS was more of a National Illness Service designed merely to patch people up. It also stifled more creative approaches to health. Simply spending more and more on the NHS, restored, reformed or whatever, is not a sustainable option.  We have to look at health more broadly, we need a true ‘health’ service.

It is certainly true that part of the population has been hit hard and sometimes very cruelly so by cutbacks in certain areas of government spending. Groups such as the disabled have been shockingly treated. In that sense, government policies are indeed an ‘austerity’ programme’. Yet many people remain comfortably off, some cushioned by private or public sector pensions that are generous, and/or the sale of an inherited parental property, and/or high salaries, bonuses, rents & dividends. Tens of millions in this country feel anything but precarious in their comparative material prosperity. A lot of these people — more than enough to elect a government — still feel quite comfortable. The cuts do not necessarily come as a severe and direct blow to everyone.

A much smaller group  – the 1% – has seen its income and general wealth shoot way up under ‘austerity’. Overall there has been penalisation of some,  but disproportionately high rewards for others. It is a redistribution, Robin-Hood-in-reverse programme, not austerity for all. No austerity for landowners, landlords and estate agents.

Total government spending has not been falling significantly. What is really happening is the cutting of direct public provision (libraries, care homes etc) and its transfer to other hands, sometimes to not-for-profit companies but all too often to private sector sharks. Austerity is not so much the dismantling of the state and overall slashing of its spending, as the restructuring and redirection of expenditure.

There are deep flaws in the whole welfare system. Reversing this or that cut may be vital to give immediate help to certain groups now suffering from discrimination and marginalisation. But we cannot keep putting off genuine reforms -ones that sweep away the whole morass of unclaimed benefits, punitive assessments, clawbacks, and stigma. Several cities are now trialling Citizens Income schemes. Now is the time to be bold. A strong vote for the Greens will strengthen the hand of all those pressing for real change.

They say that every seat won against the Tories makes a hard Brexit less likely – and that is the overriding jeopardy of our era. No it is most certainly not. The biggest jeopardy is ecological meltdown, followed by war – often linked to resource depletion environmental degradation and climate change.

The rhetoric of ‘kick out the Tories’ has become a cop-out, an excuse to avoid hard thinking about the real jeopardies we face. It is too simplistic a viewpoint. Regardless of who wins on Thursday, the task of thinking through how to build a society for the sustainable common good remains paramount.

A vote for the Greens, not for those trying to drive forward with eyes glued to the rear-view mirror, is the best way to underline that reality.

With thanks to Sandy Irvine for the inspiration.

 

Greens Stand Up To Racism – 18.03.2017

Just like you I’ve been looking in horror as country after country lurches to the right. To the despicable right of racism, bigotry and prejudice.

Thank heavens for the Dutch elections! 16 Green seats!

There are soft racists, and hard racists. It’s the soft ones I worry about. The quiet ones, the ones who murmur racists comment under their breath in the street, the small acts of derision, spitting at foreigners, the throw away racist comments on social media, the secret white supremacists – oh yes there are plenty of them.

You would have thought that the institutions of media and state that we have, would feel a moral duty to raise awareness of the harm history speaks of when racism takes its cruel grip on the populace.

How wrong can you be? Divide and conquer is their game. They will not take the lead on matters of apartheid, arms sales and racism. They take the lead only on hypocrisy.

Britain is the fourth most unequal developed country on earth. Pay has fallen faster here than in 24 other EU countries. We work the third longest hours  for the second lowest wages. We have Europe’s third highest housing costs, the highest train fares and the second worst levels of fuel poverty. Can we blame that on the Poles?

It’s Britain which has the least happy children in the developed world, the highest infant mortality rate in Western Europe and some of the worst child poverty in the industrialised world. It’s British elderly people who are the fourth poorest pensioners in the EU. Can we sensibly blame all that on a woman in a headscarf?

It’s Britain which has the eighth biggest gender pay gap in Europe, with child care costs  higher than almost every European country. It’s Britain which has a wealth gap twice as wide as any other EU country. Who shall we blame that on? Perhaps the Syrian children who can’t even get here?

What we should blame is our own uniquely undemocratic system – but we don’t. Everything has to be the fault of the foreigner. Get rid of them and it will all magically be alright. Wrong.

We have become a sick country, investing a net figure of nothing in our future economy whilst flogging off the last of our assets.

Wales can produce more than twice the energy it needs, embedding quality jobs for decades. But where’s the investment? The 24% of the NHS nurses and doctors here are immigrants. How are we protecting them? In this sorry world we all need to stand together for better services, better infrastructure, a better future free from dishonest politics and bigotry.

Across the world, rich and powerful forces are rigging elections and advancing the politics of racism and division. They must be stopped now, because when it’s too late, it’s too late to stop.

37% of the electorate supported Brexit – yet we plough on with ‘alternative facts’ in a rigged system. Theresa May wears her jack-boots under her trousers. Don’t wait until she wears them over the top.

But do you know what makes me really mad? The 13 million people who do not vote. It was you who sent us to war in Iraq and Libya. It was you who gave us a Tory government which does nothing but entrench inequality and hardship. It is you who have let this country be run by the likes of May, Johnson and Gove, and you who helped to send thousands of refugees back to war zones in Afghanistan and Syria.

Just 21% of the electorate sent us to war on a pack of lies in 2003 and 174,000 Iraqi’s paid the price – yet we plough on with immigrant-bashing as if it was there fault. 

Friends, if you don’t vote, you can’t swivel out of blame for the increasing xenophobia, the creeping racism and the appalling inequality of this country

We may have a crappy electoral system, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore it.

No-one is going to take a stand against racism but us. In the ballot box, on the streets, on the internet – I’m standing tall against racism. Are you with me?

 

 

Saying the Unsayable – Cut Meat Out.

orang-utangToday, at a WWF event in Cardiff, I stood up and said the unsayable. I talked about diet. Gasp! The room was quiet – is she really saying out loud that a population heading for 9 billion humans has to learn to eat sustainably? Is she really saying out loud that eating less meat is the only way to live kindly on this one single planet? Is she really saying that compassion and sustainability turn out to be two sides of the same coin?
Well yes she is. I’m not attacking anyone for eating meat, but asking that they think about where it comes from and how it is treated. I’m asking you to think about the fact that the 95% of non-human animals on this planet are those we breed to eat. I’m asking you to think about just how much land is required to feed them all. Above all I’m asking you to think about how our intensive farming practices are a huge part of the decimation of wildlife in this sorry world. Is it really fair to kill hundreds of orangutans just so that we can have a bit of cheap palm oil in our Ginger Nuts?
So lets not have this conversation in hushed tones lest we offend anybody. Let’s get it out in the open. Either we cut our own numbers, or we change our daily menu.
If you feel your eating habits are in question you are probably right. I’m not saying everyone should go vegan (though think how much help that would be !), I am saying that if you are eating meat 3 times a day you are not only living on a planet 3 times the size of the one we have actually got, you are contributing to suffering and hunger, because the grain used to feed the animals is grain which should rightly be feeding people.
58% of our wildlife is under dire threat. Wildlife populations  have more than halved in 40 years. The fish population has declined 36%. If you are eating meat simply because you like the taste, then either save it for a special treat or take a smaller portion. If you are eating it out of tradition, then think how many traditions have not stood the test of time and have been abandoned. Should animal sacrifice go the way of human sacrifice?
If you are going to eat it, always check that the meat comes from an approved RSPCA supplier ( if it doesn’t, you shouldn’t touch it anyway) and the fish is MSC approved. Those of us in the UK who can afford to buy Fairtrade and Organic, should do so whenever possible (and that’s most of us).
So much of our beloved wildlife is under real and imminent threat of extinction, yet we can do something, but it has to be now. So try a meat-free Monday, or a dairy-free Friday. Every single action in the right direction is going to help.
Once the hedgehogs, the turtle doves, the crickets and the butterflies have gone it will be too late. We only have now.

White Poppies, The True Act Of Remembrance

White poppy wreath 2 2013

I wear a white poppy on Remembrance Day to remember the civilians, the maimed, and the dead; the starving children, the conscientious objectors, the deformed children, the servicemen and women, and the folly of it all. The white poppy is a symbol of peace, and I wear it to remind people that the avenues for peace are seldom exhausted before the bombs are made to fall.

The First World War (ironically labelled the war to end all wars), was the only modern war in which more servicemen and women than civilians were killed. Looking back, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in 1914 seems a frivolous reason to kill 9 million service personnel and 7 million civilians. I wear the white poppy for all of them.

Subsequent wars have claimed the lives of a disproportionate number of civilians, millions of whom have been brushed callously aside as ‘collateral damage’.

Modern warfare is about carpet bombing, depleted uranium shells, cluster bombs and chemicals. Nagasaki and Hiroshima remind us of the terrible cost of ‘collateral damage’. Underneath those hellish explosions were 200,000 ordinary people going about their daily task.  I wear the white poppy for them.

I would not hear a word said against the good work done by the British Legion, but the fact is that they should not have to raise this money. If the government decides to send troops into the gates of hell, then the government should also pay to take good care of their broken minds and bodies when they limp home. The true cost of war in terms of healthcare, broken families and broken lives is never measured.

The devious lies which propelled us into Iraq and caused the death of more than 600,000 Iraqis, was morally and factually unjustifiable. This was not a just war. The women of Fallujah are still giving birth to deformed children. I wear the white poppy for them too.

No amount of Invictus Games, Help for Heroes and Poppy Appeals makes up for the damning act of war. Wars beget more wars. The middle east has been a war zone for decades. Iraq – a place we were duped into fighting – sees no respite. Syria is not our war, yet we are busy bombing it. Yemen is not our war, but we are supplying the weapons for the Saudi’s to fight it.

War, and the law of unintended consequences, such as the creation of ISIS, are frequent bedfellows. Returning violence for violence only multiplies violence. Taking an eye for an eye is not what we teach our children.

Waging war is a big and highly profitable business. Little wonder then that financiers, manufacturers, trade unions, the military and the growing band of support charities are loath to call for peace and disarmament. ‘Lest we forget’ has become a message of support for the worlds’ arms manufacturers.

Wearing the White Poppy is not an act of heresy, it is an act of true remembrance in which we can remind ourselves of the futility of war and the suffering it causes. It tells us that actively pursuing a practical policy to avoid war is a realistic and worthwhile strategy. It is not necessarily any cheaper, and it’s not the easy path. Skilled negotiators are hard to come by, and I wear the white poppy for them too.

White poppies supporting the Peace Pledge Union can be bought here: http://www.ppu.org.uk/ppushop/

Education has become Training

Letter to South Wales Argus 20.10.16

We hear about the cuts to education subjects almost every day. But in truth the people of South Wales deserve a better conversation about education than they’re getting. Getting outraged about the loss of Archaeology and Classics is all well and good, but how useful is it when the vast majority of pupils would never have been offered these A levels in the first place?

Where’s the outrage about the everyday failings of our education system. The underpaid, overworked teachers, the students who are failing to connect with the curriculum they’re being taught, and leaving school where the only clear path to their future is debt.

If the objective of education is to funnel students down into being vassals for current industry, then it is not true education, it is training. If we are to inspire minds and create a bright sustainable future, then the broader the subject matter taught, the better.

Education is important, and Wales has been lagging behind for too long. Our elected AM’s are just tinkering around the edges. It’s time to address the failings of this system head-on, and give our young people something to be inspired about.

M4 Public Inquiry – Debunking WG Statements -Proof of Evidence submitted by Wales Green Party

M4 Public Inquiry – Debunking WG Statements -Proof of Evidence submitted by Wales Green Party

To: The Public Inspector, Mr WSC Wadrup

Purpose of this document

To examine some of the ‘facts’ produced in the Welsh Government (WG) leaflet (appendix 6) which has been distributed to the public and deal with the FoI responses received. There is concern that the public are being persuaded, through a public misinformation campaign, to support a poor value for money solution to the alleged problems on the M4 between Magor and Castleton.

  1. Traffic Volumes

 

WG documentation distributed to the public states that in 2014 ‘the road’ was 95% full. This appears to be misleading as it cannot be 95% full 100% of the time.

FoI Request: Please provide documentation detailing at what times of day the road is 95% full, if any, and between which junctions this volume of traffic has been measured.

  1. Projected figures for future usage between the points above, taking into account demographic trends and the impact of the SEW Metro system on this stretch of road.

Response: Appendix 1

Observations: Based on WG FoI Response documents (Appendix 1)

The lower end of the forecasts shows the recent fall in trips continues over the next 30 years[1].

At peak times the motorway is as little as 46% full. The M4 around Newport is, on average, 76% full at peak times. On one section of the motorway, and in one direction only, the figure reaches 95%.

Traffic Volume data for the three-year period 2009-2011 is unavailable.

No account has been made for traffic scenarios arising from the completion of the Heads of the Valleys Road (A 465) improvements, due in 2018. It is likely that upon completion, much of the traffic coming from Birmingham and the midlands will not use the M4.

Demographic changes are a key driver of the number of journeys[2]. The population of Wales has grown by only 200,000 souls since 1995, most of those being in the north. The increase in population is mainly down to age, and older drivers tend not to populate the roads at peak times. This has not been examined.

 

Conclusion:

The forecasting models are based on a high degree of uncertainty and do not take account of planned public transport impacts and demographic trends. By stating the road is ‘95% full’ the WG is misleading the public.

 

  1. Jobs

FoI request: Your pamphlet documentation states that 6,500 new jobs will be created by the Black Route.

  1. Please let me have a breakdown of the industries and businesses projected to achieve these ‘new’ jobs, and where exactly they will be situated geographically.
  2. How many will be in Newport?

Response: Appendix 2

Observations: Based on WG FoI Response documents (Appendix 2)

The high scenario for new jobs is 6,750. Medium scenario is 2,800, low scenario is 750 new jobs[3].

There are few possibilities for industry either side of the proposed motorway around Newport. The south side is scantily populated with few opportunities for development due to SSI status and flood risk. The north side is already well developed, with much of the available land allocated for housing.

There is no breakdown of the industries likely to be created.

New jobs are indicated to be around motorway junctions, two of which have been in place for some years. The two new junctions are Glan Llyn, residential to the north, SSSI to the south, and Docks Way, which prioritizes Port traffic. Whilst some new jobs may be created at the Port in spite of the proposed low Usk bridge, it is difficult to see how the proposed M4 can compete with a Metro[4] system in terms of job creation.

Conclusion:

Whilst the documentation does not specifically say the jobs will be created in Newport, the entire document is Newport centric and will be read as such. The possibility of 6,500 new jobs in Newport is remote, and overplays the economic benefits of the proposed motorway.

 

 

  1. Accident Rates

FOI Request:

I have received a copy of the WG Statement of Case for a new M4 Black Route. Paragraph 1.5.2 states that ‘The current accident rates on the M4 between Magor and Castleton are higher than average for UK motorways.

  1. Please advise me which figures you are using, and from which reliable sources, in order to make this statement about accident rates on the M4?

Response: Appendix 3

Observations: Based on WG FoI Response documents (Appendix 3)

The average accident rate for this stretch of motorway as a percentage of UK average was 88.6% (2002-2008), 86.8% (2002-2005), 91.1% (2006-2008) 74.9% (2006-2008,12).

The claim that Junction 25-25A, the Brynglas Tunnels and Junctions 26-27) had a higher observed accident rate than the UK average for motorways, is not substantiated.

In 2012 and 2013 there was a reduction in the number of Police Stats19 Form accidents compared with previous years.

The FoI response did not report the following:

  1. The number of recorded UK personal injury collisions decreased from 9588 in 2000, to 6850 in 2010[5]. No comparable data has been put forward for the J24 – 28 stretch of M4 motorway.

 

  1. The number of casualties on UK motorways has gone down by 27% in the years 2014-2015[6]

 

  1. Statistics for Wales[7] does not single out the M4 Brynglas Tunnels as being any worse for accidents than any other part of the M4 (appendix 6). The area it chooses to detail is J33 Cardiff.

 

  1. The Variable Speed Limit (VSL) is expected to reduce accident rates by around 13%[8], yet this is not taken into consideration. Edwina Hart said, “In 2012 and 2013 there was a reduction in accidents compared with previous years.” We are not told what that reduction actually was.

 

  1. WG states that there was a reduction in accidents in 2012 and 2014 yet uses Police Stats 19 Forms for 2006-2008 as a measure of current accident rates.

 

  1. VSL installation was introduced in June 2011 between Junctions 24 and 28, but not enforced until autumn 2016.

 

 

Conclusion:

Analysis of the figures between 2002 and 2008 (the only figures available), show that the stretch of motorway between Magor and Castleton reached at most 91% of the national rate for accidents.  The WG statement on accident rates is wrong.

 

  1. Air Quality

FoI Request: Your pamphlet documentation states that air quality will improve by up to 15%.

  1. ‘Up to’ is misleading. It might improve 5% or not at all. What is the accurate figure?
    How do you calculate improvement in air quality when at the same time you project an increase in traffic

Response: Appendix 4

FoI Observations: Based on WG FoI Response documents (Appendix 4)

The data shows there will be an overall increase in air pollution in future years: Changes in emissions (tonnes/year) :CO2 + 1,215. NOx  -155. PM10  -21. (Table 7.23, P48)

Local NOx concentrations in the region between Castleton and Magor will go up. (7.15.8). The concentrations, not the total emissions, are the measure of air quality.

There will be significant risks to designated sites, which cannot be mitigated. (Table 7.25)

There is no modelling of emissions along the A48 Eastern Avenue, which would in all probability go from bad to worse.

Emissions reduction is not likely to be achieved due to induced traffic using the present M4.

Conclusion:

The 15% air quality improvement figure doesn’t exist in the documentation, and should not have been used to mislead the public into thinking the proposed M4 was a good thing. If we are to meet the Paris climate change targets, the overarching aim should be to reduce CO2 as quickly as possible. The proposed M4 is increasing CO2 emissions.

 

 

  1. Environmental Impact

The plans for the M4 Black Route include re-directing some reens through culverts. Evaluation of previously culverted reens will be a measure of the environmental impact of this apparent mitigation measure.

FoI request:

  1. What monitoring and evaluation of the culverted reens adjacent to Gwent Europark have been done, and the results of this.
  2. The monitoring and evaluation of the effects of any other culverted reens across the Gwent levels.

Response: Appendix 5

Observations: Based on WG FoI Response documents (Appendix 5)

No records provided.

Conclusion:

 

The documents contain NO record of monitoring or evaluation of reens at Gwent Europark or anywhere else. This unknown factor in environmental impact is a crucial omission. The absence of monitoring data affecting approximately 2568m of SSSI reen and 9136m of SSSI field ditch would indicate that culverting does not work, and the impact on flora and fauna would be unacceptably high.

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

Only five aspects of the documentation have been examined, and in all five, the information publicised by the Welsh Government is misleading. In some cases the figures used are exaggerated, or information is withheld. In other cases they are fiction. A sample score of 0/5 for openness, honesty and transparency is worrying.  All other claims should therefore be subjected to rigorous scrutiny.

 

The basis for building a 19 mile stretch of new motorway at a cost of £1.2 billion+ is discredited.

This proposal represents bad value for money for the taxpayer, and all costs and expenses to date should be referred to the Wales Audit Office for further action.

 

 

 

 

[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates/timeseries/wapop/pop

[2] changebehaviourhttps://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/411471/road-traffic-forecasts-2015.pdf

[3] Table 6.22 (p.150).

 

[4] See separate submission : M4 Public Inquiry – Better Value for Money from Integrated Public Transport

Proof of Evidence submitted by Pippa Bartolotti, Wales Green Party

 

[5] http://gov.wales/docs/det/publications/130719delplanen.pdf

[6] https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/ras40-reported-accidents-vehicles-and-casualties#table-ras40001

[7] http://gov.wales/docs/statistics/2016/160405-accident-cluster-sites-fatal-road-accidents-welsh-trans-european-network-2012-2014-revised-en.pdf

[8] http://www.traffic-wales.com/media/33521/m4-vsl-qa-sheet-january-2011.pdf

M4 Public Inquiry – Better Value for Money from Integrated Public Transport

M4 Public Inquiry – Better Value for Money from Integrated Public Transport

Proof of Evidence submitted by Pippa Bartolotti, Wales Green Party

To: the Public Inspector, Mr WSC Wadrup

Strategic Objectives – The Case for Integrated Public Transport

The aim of this submission is to prove that an Integrated Public Transport (Metro) System is better value, more resilient and will more accurately reflect the strategic aims of the Welsh Government than any proposed motorway solution.

 

Metro – Current Situation

The Welsh Government (WG) has identified the South Wales Metro as its flagship infrastructure project for the next decade.

According to the WG the “Metro will significantly improve transport connectivity around the region by reducing journey times and increasing frequency of service.”

Work on the second phase South Wales Metro, with electrification of the Valley Lines, is due to commence in 2019 and be completed by 2022/23, with an indicative price tag of £734m. By contrast the M4 south of Newport is stated to cost £1.2b for just 19 miles of road. (other Metro costs Appendix 1)

Currently the railway line from Cardiff to the Severn Tunnel is being electrified, therefore some of the cost of the Metro on that route has already been paid for.

 

Debunking the strategic case for the proposed M4 south of Newport

According to the WG website, the stated aims of the WG[1] for the M4 Corridor around Newport are to:

  1. Make it easier and safer for people to access their homes, workplaces and services by walking, cycling, public transport or road.

The proposed M4 will not provide public transport, cycleways or footpaths, and represents a failure to provide safe transit. The simplest, cheapest and healthiest solution to congestion (Metro) is blocked by a misplaced assertion that more cars on the road will solve congestion problems.

The South Wales Metro will deliver a viable public transport solution which will be safer, faster and cleaner than road travel, with the capacity to expand with demand.

 

  1. Deliver a more efficient and sustainable transport network supporting and encouraging long-term prosperity in the region, across Wales, and enabling access to international markets.

These aims are not met by building the proposed M4. Average occupancy of cars in the UK is 1.6. The undercapacity of the roads arises from the overcapacity of the vehicles that use them. Every coach/tram swallows up a mile of car traffic and reduces carbon emissions per passenger mile by an average of 88%, helping to achieve global warming reduction targets.

There is almost no traffic joining the M4 from the south due to the nature of the SSSI’s, the low population, and the potential for sea level rise affecting land less than 10ft above sea level discouraging further building. By contrast a Metro system with frequent stations (Fig 1), feeder bus routes, and more northerly position would create many more opportunities for employment along its route and achieve greater ROI.

Long term prosperity in Newport will be increasingly dependent on the Port as international trade increases in the post-Brexit UK. The growth of the Port will be stymied by the low height of the proposed M4 bridge.

  1. To produce positive effects overall on people and the environment, making a positive contribution to the over-arching Welsh Government goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to making Wales more resilient to the effects of climate change.

Increased traffic has a negative effect on the environment, on the health of people, and will increase greenhouse gases. The transport sector does not meet its full environmental costs. We cannot put a price on peoples’ lives. The ‘social cost’ of global warming is estimated by the British Government Dept of the Environment to be £70 per tonne. Building more roads will encourage more cars and make Wales less resilient to climate change impacts. Induced demand[2] is a feature of the WelTAG Stage 1 & 2 (Scheme) Appraisal[3].

Encouraging more cars on the proposed new road will exacerbate traffic congestion east of Cardiff.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is unprecedented in its emphasis on how an urgent and rapid transition away from fossil fuels is a prerequisite of avoiding the 2°C characterization of dangerous climate change. A truly sustainable transport network would be frequent, affordable and clean.

By building and operating a Metro system across South Wales, demand is likely to increase due to the Sparks effect.[4]

 

 

Ambition

In the last ten years, station footfall in Newport has grown by 35%, Cardiff by 63%, and Severn Tunnel Junction by 120% annually. Cardiff has a footfall of about twelve million, Newport two and a half million, Severn Tunnel Junction is a quarter of a million. Train travel in the UK has grown has grown 74% since 1995 and is increasing.

About 78,000 people commute into Cardiff to work every day; 80% do it by car, many from the east. Making it easier and quicker to do this journey by public transport will cut down car travel and reduce incentive for future travelers to commit to car journeys.

66% [5]66% of the people who live and work in Zurich travel by public transport. By contrast Newport City has set its sights rather low by hoping to achieve 6 – 7 % of commuters traveling by other than car. This paucity of ambition, and bias towards roadbuilding, is hindering progress in the city.

WG Objectives for the Metro (Appendix 3) are that it should have high frequency, be fully integrated with other modes of transport, be extendable, and a catalyst for regeneration[6]. The scope and ambition of these objectives, if achieved, far excel anything 19 miles of new motorway could deliver.

 

WG Transport Planning Objectives

By prioritizing early build of the Metro between Magor and Castleton, the existing M4 will be relieved of ever increasing amounts of traffic and therefore meet all Transport Planning Objectives (TPOs) (Appendix 2), negating the need for further roadbuilding.

 

Employment and Business Opportunities

[7]Every person moving from unemployment into genuine full time employment saves the ‘State’ £78,000 at today’s prices. Getting just twelve unemployed people from Ebbw Vale into full time employment in Cardiff (which could not happen without public transport) would save the state around £1m. It is right that the valley line gets a high priority, but the economic opportunities for getting more people into work by extending the Metro service from Sudbrook Pumping Station to Cardiff and many points in between (Fig 1) are greater than the opportunities provided by the 19 mile M4 proposal – and more cost effective.

Fig 1

The Railfuture (Fig 1) proposal deliberately does not follow the main line around the north of Newport, but picks up the area that at present is only really accessible by car. Maesglas Retail and Business parks, The Docks area, Newport Stadium and the National Velodrome, Nash Campus, Leeway and Queensway Industrial Estates, Spytty Retail Park. Further east it picks up the Wilcrick Distribution Depots (Tesco and Wilkos) that between them employ some 2,000 workers that are incredibly not served by any public transport whatsoever at present. It covers the areas of high population densities Duffryn, Maesglas , Liswerry, Magor, Undy , Caldicot etc. Further extensions (Severnside & Lower Wye) pick up the large Newhouse industrial estate and its associated Distribution depots which are equally not served by any public transport.

The WG has estimated that 7,000 new jobs would be created with the building of the Metro, with a further £8bn in additional economic impact. By contrast the Proposed M4 is claimed to bring 6,500 new jobs with [8]£1.4 billion of increased benefits, but only if the Severn crossing toll is removed, which is unlikely.

 

Summary

In short, the WG aims for the proposed M4 are the same aims as for the Metro. Yet the overall financial situation in Wales is one of increasing government cut-backs. Wales cannot afford both.

On all measures of cost, return on investment, employment, safety, sustainability, resilience, health and climate change the Metro system outperforms the proposed M4.

The existing M4 is not going to be taken away, and long haul traffic will experience fewer delays and faster travel time across the contested 19 miles between Magor and Castleton if an effective Metro system is in place.

The Metro brings a measurably more valuable, cost effective, and sustainable solution for increasing prosperity than the proposed M4.

Appendix 1

 

 

 

Appendix 2

  • TPO 1: Safer, easier and more reliable travel east-west in South Wales.
  • TPO 2: Improved transport connections within Wales and to England, the Republic of Ireland and the rest of Europe on all modes on the international transport network. Welsh Government M4 Corridor around Newport Economic Appraisal Report M4CaN-DJV-GEN-ZG-GEN-RP-TR-0001 | March 2016 Page 4
  • TPO 3: More effective and integrated use of alternatives to the M4, including other parts of the transport network and other modes of transport for local and strategic journeys around Newport.
  • TPO 4: Best possible use of the existing M4, local road network and other transport networks.
  • TPO 5: More reliable journey times along the M4 Corridor.
  • TPO 6: Increased level of choice for all people making journeys within the transport Corridor by all modes between Magor and Castleton, commensurate with demand for alternatives.
  • TPO 7: Improved safety on the M4 Corridor between Magor and Castleton.
  • TPO 8: Improved air quality in areas next to the M4 around Newport.
  • TPO 9: Reduced disturbance to people from high noise levels, from all transport modes and traffic within the M4 Corridor.
  • TPO 10: Reduced greenhouse gas emissions per vehicle and/or person kilometre.
  • TPO 11: Improved travel experience into South Wales along the M4 Corridor.
  • TPO 12: An M4 attractive for strategic journeys that discourages local traffic use.
  • TPO 13: Improved traffic management in and around Newport on the M4 Corridor.
  • TPO 14: Easier access to local key services and residential and commercial centres.
  • TPO 15: A cultural shift in travel behaviour towards more sustainable choices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix 3

WG Transport Planning Objectives for the Metro

High frequency

Metro will run at least four services an hour across the whole network when needed and even more on busy sections. This gives a ‘turn up and go’ experience for passengers using vehicles designed for speed and capacity.

Integration

Metro combines heavy rail, light rail and buses to deliver a seamless network. With just one ticket, people will be able to move quickly and easily across the region. It also links with active travel – cycling and walking – to create a completely integrated network.

Extendable

Metro is designed so it can grow to make it even more accessible. New stations, new routes, increased frequencies – in future, the network can bring better public transport to more communities and economic centres.

Regeneration

Metro will deliver better passenger facilities and community focal points around key stations, and stimulate opportunities for more strategic development and regeneration across the region.

 

 

 

 

 

Pippa Bartolotti, Wales Green Party

07981717757 pippabartolotti@walesgreenparty.com

[1] http://www.m4newport.com/assets/the-plan—english.pdf Page 22

[2] This well-established response is known in various contexts as the Downs-Thomson Paradox, The Pigou-Knight-Downs Paradox or the Lewis-Mogridge Position: a new road may provide motorists with some level of respite from congestion in the short term, but almost all of the benefit from the road will be lost due to increased demand in the longer term.

 

[3] http://www.m4newport.com/assets/weltag-s1-2-report.pdf

 

[4]Sparks Effect: When you electrify a service, even if the service level remains the same there is an increase in modal shift to rail. This is a proven phenomenon. It also appears when you open a tram stop at an existing railway station.

 

[5] Paul Mees – Transport for Suburbia Beyond the Automobile Age

 

[6] http://gov.wales/topics/transport/public/metro/?lang=en

 

[7] David Freud’s report for Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, 2007

 

[8] http://www.m4newport.com/assets/weltag-s1-2-report.pdf Table 6.7