Posts tagged greenwash
Your ‘umble scribe is not a listener to Rupert Murdoch’s TalkRadio channel, being as it is top-heavy with right-wing presenters and commentators.
Furthermore, its audience compared to other national broadcasters is tiny, with Rajar figures revealing an average national number of listeners of 433,000, i.e. less than the current estimated population of Bristol.
One of those right-wing presenters had a bad day at the studio yesterday.
Step forward one Archibald Michael Graham, otherwise know as ‘Iron’ Mike, former editor of the Scottish edition of the Daily Mirror and former assistant editor of the Daily Brexit (which some still call the Express. Ed.).
Yesterday he’d invited Insulate Britain spokesperson Cameron Ford, onto the TalkRadio breakfast show, where he is currently deputising for the dreadful Julia Hartley-Brewer, ostensibly to discuss Insulate Britain’s latest protest action, but more likely so that Ford could give him a good verbal kicking for the entertainment of the station’s none too large audience.
However, matters did not progress entirely to plan, leaving Iron Mike’s carapace pitted with rust as he ended up displaying his own stupidity, which has now gone viral around the English-speaking world.
Graham’s stupidity was so egregious that the hashtag #ConcreteMike is trending on Twitter today.
The interview, which lasted less than one minute in total, starts with no style at all. Graham launches straight into an ad hominem attack on his guest – a carpenter by trade – claiming that wood is not a sustainable product, before trying to assert that concrete is a sustainable product, before being politely corrected. There then follow a period of silence before Graham ends the interview thinking he’s embarrassed his guest, whilst not having the nous to realise he has opened his mouth and inserted his foot up to the ankle, as per the video clip below.
Now landing on Bristol Mayor George Ferguson‘s desk are postcards from residents of BS5 to bring him back down to earth with a thump after being honoured with a prestigious award by Lord Gnome of Private Eye (posts passim).
The cards remind George that BS5 residents are fed up with the fly-tipping they have to endure every day, a problem that was neither tackled nor mitigated by council action during the city’s wasted year as European Green Capital (posts passim).
Your correspondent took a dozen or so with him to the pub the other night and had no difficulty coming home minus his entire stock of postcards. There are evidently lots of fed up BS5ers out there, George, so you’d better exdigitate on getting to grips with fly-tipping in East Bristol and not just send any postcards you receive down to Streetscene Enforcement to clutter up their desks, as Tidy BS5’s spies down the Counts Louse inform us you are doing. 😉
From your correspondent’s vantage point in the inner city, it has to be said that Bristol’s year as Europe’s beacon of best environmental practice has hardly been crowned with glory, with money wasted on pointless art projects, widespread wildlife habitat destruction and the continuing blight of fly-tipping.
Will George Ferguson be collecting his award in person from Lord Gnome? 😉
On Wednesday councillors on Bristol City Council’s Development Control Committee B voted overwhelmingly – by 8 votes to 2 with one abstention – to accept the planning officers’ recommendation to refuse an application filed by UK Power Reserve Ltd. for 14 gas-fired generators with 11 metre high flues for a site off Gatton Road.
The recommendation for refusal was soundly based on both national and local planning guidelines for reasons of noise and air pollution, plus visual amenity.
The application attracted nearly 700 objections and over 50 personal statements by members of the public, including your correspondent, whose statement is reproduced below.
I have been a resident of the Easton area for nearly 4 decades.
I have read the case officer’s report on this application and am pleased to note he has recommended its rejection since it contravenes both local and national planning policies in many regards.
It should be pointed out that this speculative application – one of 3 for fossil fuel generating plants in Bristol’s less prosperous communities – is being driven by central government’s ideologically-driven mismanagement of electricity production in the UK.
I live downwind of the proposed facility and feel the air quality in my part of Easton is already bad enough with the traffic pollution from the M32 and Stapleton Road, plus diesel fumes from the nearby railway line.
By filing this application in the way it did, the applicant has shown contempt both for the local authority and local residents in St Werburghs and Easton.
Contempt to the local authority is demonstrated by the application’s filing during Bristol’s year as European Green Capital. Nothing further need be said on that point in respect of a generating plant powered by polluting fossil fuels.
As regards local residents, consultation has been minimal and I believe that the applicant is guilty of what is called “environmental racism”. This is a concept from the United States defined as: “is placement of low-income or minority communities in proximity of environmentally hazardous or degraded environments, such as toxic waste, pollution and urban decay”.
If this facility is so clean and aesthetically pleasing to the eye, why did the applicant not decide to site in, say, Stoke Bishop?
Any future applicant thinking of indulging in further environmental racism in Bristol’s inner city communities will be told very firmly what they can do with their applications and where they can stick their proposed facilities.
Three local councillors – Rob Telford and Gus Hoyt from Ashley ward – and Lawrence Hill’s Marg Hickman also spoke against UKPR’s plans.
There was only one speaker from the public gallery in support of the application; and that was from UKPR’s agent. He urged the committee to defer a decision to allow them to mitigate the air quality impact by fitting catalytic converters, reduce noise problems and reduce the height of the chimneys. However, the councillors on the committee gave this late concession short shrift.
Indeed, the only councillor on the committee to speak in favour of the application was Conservative Richard Eddy (described as a ‘dickhead’ by a fellow councillor. Ed.). He and fellow Tory Kevin Quartley voted in favour of the power plant, whilst Chris Windows, the third Tory on the committee, abstained.
Two further planning applications for similar plants powered by dirty diesel in Lockleaze and at Avonbank (posts passim) were withdrawn a few days before the meeting. Along with the St Werburgh’s application, they would have formed part of the STOR back-up energy programme subsidised by the Government.
Good news has been received regarding the planning applications two diesel generating stations (posts passim) just a few days before they were due to be considered by councillors on the relevant Development Control Committee.
Plutus Energy has withdrawn both its planning applications for diesel generating facilities in both Lawrence Hill and Lockleaze wards.
All 3 applications that were due to be considered by councillors had been recommended for rejection by planning officers.
Your correspondent objected to the application at Feeder Road in Lawrence Hill ward as follows:
The fact that the applicant has filed this application during Bristol’s year as European Green Capital shows the applicant’s utter contempt for the city’s aspiration to be a showcase for good environmental practice.
The applicant’s proposals will result in a loss of amenity for neighbours in terms of visual amenity and more particularly as regards air quality.
Visual amenity: standby generating stations featuring diesel generators and associated flues/chimneys are not the most aesthetic of facilities.
Air quality: the site is on Feeder Road and is crossed by St Philip’s Causeway. Both of these roads are already high levels of traffic with the associated repercussions for local air quality. Local air quality will be further impaired by the addition of diesel generators, not only in terms of carbon dioxide/monoxide and NOx, but also particulates. Diesel combustion exhaust is a source of atmospheric soot and fine particles, which is a component of the air pollution implicated in human cancer, heart and lung damage and mental functioning.
Lack of environmental impact assessment: although the site is below the threshold for conducting this assessment, such an assessment should be requested due to the nature of the facility proposed by the applicant.
Unsatisfactory noise impact assessment: the applicant has not carried out a proper noise impact assessment for the site. Edward Road was chosen for the noise impact. This ignores the fact that noise from the facility will have a significant effect on St Philip’s Marsh School, which is far nearer to the site than Edward Road. As the applicant has shown poor faith in this regard, the application should be rejected.
Impact on St Philip’s Marsh School: this proposal will have a negative impact on the amenity of this establishment in terms of noise, air quality and visual amenity, not to mention the possible effect of the poorer air quality on any pupils with respiratory problems such as asthma. For this reason too, the application should be rejected.
Safety concerns re 2 diesel storage tanks with a capacity of 22,000 litres: this represents a hazard to neighbours, both industrial and residential.
Finally, I believe the only reason this application has been filed by the applicant is that because it is in a poor, deprived council ward, the applicant thinks it can get approval for its noisy, polluting facility is that fewer people are likely to object. If this is so, I think the applicant’s reasoning is seriously flawed.
For all the reasons cited above, the application should be rejected.
Yesterday I received the letter below from Bristol City Council (all errant and/or lacking punctuation, plus dodgy use of the English language are © Bristol City Council. Ed.).
Application No. 15/02310/F
Site address: Avonbank, Feeder Road, Bristol BS2 0TH
Proposal: Proposed installation of diesel powered generators and associated infrastructure for the provision of a Flexible Generation Facility to provide energy balancing services via the capacity market for the National Grid.
Further to the recent letter advising you that the above application was due to be considered by Development Control B committee, on the 9 December 2015 I now write to advise that the application has been withdrawn and will no longer be considered by the committee.
Should a new application be received, you will have the opportunity to comment on that application.
Bristol City Council
Talking to Bristol 24/7, Lawrence Hill councillor Marg Hickman said: “We have won. It is just quite remarkable and wonderful. The local community has come together on this and we have won because we have got such a good campaign together.”
This still leaves an application for a similar gas-powered plant in St Werburgh’s, which has gained 684 objections, on the table.
Yesterday, feeling frustrated with Bristol City Council’s ineptitude at tackling fly-tipping and litter in the city’s Easton and Lawrence Hill wards, despite 18 months’ vigorous campaigning by local residents and ward councillors, I decided to take advantage of Twitter’s poll facility.
The results of the poll are shown below.
That’s right! 90% of respondents believe Hell will freeze over before the local authority gets a grip on fly-tipping.
If anyone spots Satan shopping for ice skates in Broadmead, the Galleries, Cabot Circus, Cribb’s Causeway or any other retail centre in the Bristol area, please provide details using the comments form below. 🙂
If one only read the Bristol Post, there’d be no way that residents in the wider city would have any inkling that three polluting standby electricity generating stations were currently awaiting planning permission in the European Capital of Greenwash.
Fortunately, this dreadful development has been picked up by Bristol 24/7: and here’s the unsurprising bit; they are all in the more deprived parts of the city.
It is believed these power plants will form part of the Short Term Operating Reserve (Stor) network of reserve power banks which provide additional generating capacity to feed into the National Grid at peak times.
Firstly, a planning application (ref. 15/02310/F) has been submitted on behalf of Plutus Energy for a 48 unit diesel generating plant and 2 diesel storage tanks with a capacity of 22,000 litres for 6 Feeder Road, Bristol and Avonbank, Feeder Road, Bristol, (both in the deprived Lawrence Hill ward. Ed.) close to St Philips Marsh School.
Forty-eight diesel generators will doubtless chuck out a fair old quantity of particulates, which is a component of air pollution implicated in human cancer,heart and lung damage, and mental functioning.
The applicants have not conducted an environmental impact assessment for the site since its small size (0.5 ha) is below the threshold for such a requirement. Nevertheless, local ward councillors believe such an assessment should be carried out due to the size and impact of the proposed development.
In addition, some skulduggery is evident in the noise impact assessment that has been carried out. Edward Road was chosen for the noise impact, significantly further away from the site than St Philips Marsh School. Again, local councillors think this study should be reviewed and amended to include the impact on the school and the nearby Severn Vineyard Church.
Despite the fact that inner city Bristol already has dreadful air quality, this is not the only dirty diesel generating plant planned for the city.
An application (ref. 15/04297/F) for another such facility has been submitted for Romney Avenue in Lockleaze, another of the city’s not so prosperous areas. Once again the applicants are Plutus Energy, who want to put 32 generators on this site close to a major housing estate and obviously care very little indeed for Bristol’s air quality.
Finally, yet another application (ref. 15/04420/F) has been filed by UK Power Reserve for 10 diesel or gas generators for in in New Gatton Road in St Werburgh’s, with ten 12-metre high exhaust flues.
Below is a short video on the St Werburgh’s scheme made by local residents.
It’s quite scandalous that UK Power Reserve and Plutus Energy are even considering putting polluting power stations in or next to residential areas. On account of the need for extra domestic heating and lighting, these back-up power stations are most likely to be used on cold, foggy winter days when something called a temperature inversion occurs; this causes cold air to sink, trapping the warm air in a bubble enveloping the city, thus enabling urban pollution to build up to dangerous levels, perfect for increasing the incidence of respiratory ailments. The fact that both companies have cut corners in the form of environmental and noise impact assessments shouldn’t be forgotten.
These dangerous unwelcome schemes should be thrown out by councillors.
Finally, a language note. Over in the United States of America, this dumping of dirty, polluting and generally unwelcome facilities on poor, deprived communities has a name – environmental racism. In Wikipedia, environmental racism is defined as follows:
Environmental racism is placement of low-income or minority communities in proximity of environmentally hazardous or degraded environments, such as toxic waste, pollution and urban decay.
It would appear that the communities of South Bristol are also getting fed up with fly-tipping too and want the long-promised Hartcliffe recycling centre opened as they believe it could help cure this local environmental blight.
Local campaigners have now made a video to assist their efforts in securing this much-needed facility (at present Bristol has 2 main council-run recycling facilities, both north of the River Avon and miles away from Hartcliffe. Ed.)
However, there is one obstacle in their way: the opposition of Mayor George Ferguson.
One would have thought that with the amount of waste produced by the city increasing and recycling rates declining, Bristol’s most senior elected official would leap at any chance of reversing this during Bristol’s year as the alleged European Green Capital, but it seems like he refuses to do anything at all to help improve the city’s poor, deprived and blighted communities.
In a move that will put yet another black mark against they city’s undeserved year as European Green Capital, the streets of Bristol are set to get even filthier than they are already.
Today’s Bristol Post reports that the number of street cleaners in Bristol has been cut by nearly a fifth since Bristol City Council took waste management and street cleansing back in-house last month from contractors Kier Group, those well-known supporters of former worker blacklisting outfit The Consulting Association.
According to the Post, the council-run Bristol Waste Company (BWC) has notified “30 to 40” agency workers at the Hartcliffe depot that they would no longer be required as of yesterday (Monday). This will cut their numbers by about one-fifth. These workers deal with street cleaning and collecting fly-tipping.
In addition, the Hartcliffe staff claim they have not been consulted on the cuts and accused the council of trying to save money at the expense of cleanliness (Bristol City Council has a long and proud tradition of avoiding and/or messing up consultation. Ed.).
Furthermore, the Hartcliffe depot staff also claim they been provided with inadequate equipment to do the job. One anonymous worker is quoted by the Post as saying:
Some of the guys haven’t been given clean gloves or protective gear, and many are still working with Kier equipment. The protective clothing is not adequate, and we have to deal with needles and dog poo and stuff.
If there are insufficient staff available at BWC for the job in hand, perhaps Bristol City Council could reassign staff from elsewhere: ideal candidates for redployment and kitting out with a fluorescent uniform, safety gloves, boots and a broom would be those working in the local authority’s overstaffed press and PR department.
Synonyms for unimpressed include apathetic, disinterested, unconcerned, undisturbed, untroubled and unmoved.
If Kerry’s report of her meeting with the Mayor is accurate, that is a most disturbing development in the person whose supposed job is to take care the best interests of the city and its welfare.
Responses have been received to my recent Freedom of Information Act (FoI) requests requests to Bristol City Council.
These concerned the relative numbers of staff involved in press, PR, etc. and so-called ‘streetscene (i.e. fly-tipping, litter, dog fouling and the like). This is a subject which this blog has tackled previously. However, I felt it necessary to obtain the most up-to-date figures I could.
The FoI request re press, PR and communications officers read as follows:
Dear Bristol City Council,
This is a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act.
Kindly disclose the number of press, public relations and communications staff/officers who are employed at present by Bristol City Council and/or have their place of work in Bristol City Council offices.
The response to the request reads:
The number of press, public relations and communications staff/officers who are employed at present by Bristol City Council and/or have their place of work in Bristol City Council offices:
(The list below shows the number of full-time equivalent staff)
Service Manager: Corporate Communications x 1
Service Manager: Public Relations x 1
Design Manager x 1
Senior Designer x 1
Designer x 4.49
Assistant Designer x 5
Senior Communications & Marketing Officer x 5.41
Senior Communication Officer – Enterprise Zone x 1
Senior Communication Officer (Corporate Campaigns and Special
Projects Team) x 0.81
Marketing & Communications Officer (Level 1 and 2) x 9.51
Marketing & Communcations Support Officer x 4
Internal Communications Manager x 1
Internal Communications Support Officer x 2.39
Channel Editor (Level 2) x 1
Digital Public Relations Officer x 2
Senior Public Relations Officer x 1.2
Public Relations Officer x 5
Exhibition Designer x 1
Apprentice x 1
Total Full-Time Equivalents: 48.81
Dear Bristol City Council,
This is a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act.
Kindly disclose the total number of streetscene officers who are employed at present by Bristol City Council, as well as the total number employed in the last financial year.
I would also be grateful if you would inform me whether the said officers are employed full-time or part-time and how many, if any, are on long-term sick leave.
This was duly answered as follows:
Our reply to your request is:
In 2014/15 we employed 5.7 full-time equivalent (FTE) Streetscene Enforcement Officers up until November 2014. Since November 2014 we have employed 4.7 FTE. There are four full-time officers and one
part-time officer. Presently, we plan to recruit an additional 1.5 FTE.
There are currently no Streetscene Enforcement Officers on long-term sick leave
The staffing situation is thus more out of kilter than was originally imagined. Bristol City Council is now actually employing more press, PR and communications staff than when examined previously by the Press Gazette in its FoI request.
Presumably this is due to the additional quantities of bullshit needing to be shovelled out of the Council House due to Bristol’s unwarranted elevation this year to European Green(wash) Capital.
On the other hand, council staffing managers have deemed that the city can get by with a maximum of 6 people chasing fly-tippers and litter droppers for the time being.
In my opinion the city would be a tidier and more truthful place if the above numbers were reversed, with the council employing 49 enforcement officers (they’re really needed! Ed.) and under 6 press, PR and communications wonks.
Whether you agree or disagree with my opinion, please feel free to comment below.