Tag Archives: green

Sizewell C – a route to sustainable transport in East Suffolk?

At Suffolk’s full council  this week I spoke on the motion regarding mitigation and compensation in the development of Sizewell C.

I’d like to make clear here that the decision as to whether to build or not to build Sizewell C is not at issue here. THAT is a decision being taken elsewhere. However, what is very clear to me is that if Britain’s city-dwellers want us in Suffolk coastal to host their nuclear-powered electricity generation, they need to be compensating us handsomely for this.

I haven’t noticed any great  desire to build a new power station in  London, after all.

Suffolk coastal is already an area suffering from a double whammy of traffic problems – traffic congestion on eg sections of  the A12 on the one hand, rural transport poverty on the other hand. Any development of Sizewell C must be seen as an opportunity to address this.

In addition to  finally getting round to building the Four Villages bypass (a crying need since I’ve been a county councillor – and probably since my grandmother was one) I suggest that development should include heavy investment in the east Suffolk line and better rail services along the Suffolk coast, together with huge investment in other forms of sustainable transport, such as regular reliable bus services. This would aid building work and allow both residents and visitors to enjoy the Suffolk coastal countryside while leaving a lasting and green legacy of the development  that would go a small way to compensate us for all we are being asked to hazard – in short-, mid- and long-term – when hosting such a project for the benefit of the nation.

Suffolk towns denied speed-cuts?

Do we want Woodbridge to be a 20mph town or not? Some people do, others don’t. Whatever we think, we need to be able to SAY what it is we want and have Suffolk County Council listen to us.

There was a premature end to today’s full SCC Council meeting when I – along with every other non-Conservative member present – got up and left the chamber in disgust, leaving the Conservatives to talk among themselves.

This was because the Cabinet Member for Roads and Transport  had  a difficulty in differentiating between amendment and replacement. (At least the amendment he wrote began “Delete current wording and replace with..” pretty much as if he thought Full Council  and the whole democratic process were nothing more than an incompetent typist.)

The motion in question was, at first glance, pretty benign. It asked SCC  to  “support, help fund and actively engage with those communities, local residents and other civic amenity groups, town – and parish councils across Suffolk in their requests for speed limits of 20mph in residential areas which are designed as community-generated actions to make their local streetscapes safer (particularly for children and older pedestrians and cyclists); and more tranquil places where community life can flourish and air pollution can be reduced”

What could be more harmless and useful?

It didn’t demand anything. It didn’t insist on anything. It just suggested that SCC should have a look at its green protestations and perhaps consider those residents who wished to travel by other transport than the car unimpeded.

And as I have been trying  to get SCC to look at Woodbridge becoming a trial 20mph zone for the last 2 years I was going to speak in support of the motion.  20mph is an impossible speed for pedestrians or runners and a good fast speed for horse and cycle – why should we decide it is unreasonably slow for cars in residential areas? The practicalities can be achieved without speed-bumps or signs by making the whole area a speed-exclusion zone,  and a study of one of these zones in London found they reduced casualties by 40%.

What’s not to like?

A lot, according to Mr McGregor. He eyed this motion much as his namesake may have eyed Peter Rabbit,  drove his pen through it, and wrote something he approved of instead. So much for democracy and the will of the people

His replacement motion said instead that SCC will:

  • continue supporting 20s Plenty
  • provide support and help with funding for those 20mph schemes where pre-determined road safety [my question: predetermined by who and to what criteria?] and other environmental criteria are met and where they are deemed necessary[o note that fatal, weaselly passive: who deems them necessary? and on what grounds?] and
  • work with Suffolk Police to maintain and improve road safety.

Eh? In other words Mr McGregor replaced an honest, intelligent intention for the future of Suffolk roads with a so-called ‘amendment’ committing SCC to absolutely nothing that they are not doing already.

And he seriously expected members would neither notice this, nor mind wasting an entire afternoon debating this  fatuous statement of the status quo.

When it turned out that new SCC Chair (and ex-Leader)  Jeremy Pembroke was happy to accept this ridiculous replacement for serious political debate, the Lib Dem, Labour, and Independent members walked out en masse. (As would the Greens, no doubt, only the poor souls, having proposed the original motion were stuck).  When I last saw the Council webcam the Conservatives were busy debating this non-event all on their own.

Let’s hope in the absence of anyone other than themselves, Tory members might actually  say what they really think on the matter for once, rather than toeing the Cabinet line..

PS This is what the SCC website has to say about  the Council’s attitude to 20mph zones on its Cycling page.

Starrier nights in Suffolk

Over the last few months Suffolk County Council has been moving to an Intelligent Street Lighting System, allowing the council to switch off some street lights, dim others, and leave some on – all by remote control. I am very much in favour of this scheme which will take us back to how things were, before the wasteful days when it became cheaper to leave lights on than switch them off. This – as we all know –  is no longer the case.

The Intelligent Light System will come into use  in Woodbridge on 26 March 2012.

From that date, many street lights that are less than 6m high and owned by SCC will be switched off between midnight and 5:30am. See below for a map of what lights are/are not affected . Individual consideration will be given to:

  • Lights at major junctions/roundabouts;
  • Town centres with CCTV, high security businesses like banks, areas of high night time pedestrian usage, and outside community facilities or leisure centres;
  • Areas where street lights are needed to reduce road accidents;
  • Areas where there could be an increase in crime through reduced lighting, eg. pubs or specific residential areas;
  • Remote alleys linking residential streets;
  • Lights near pedestrian crossings, footbridges, subways, and in public car parks;
  • Lights near bus stops;level crossings, speed humps and traffic lights;
  • Where there is sheltered housing for the elderly.

Dimming of street lights over 6m may also occur where funding permits, where traffic flows are low and where a lower level of lighting will not affect road safety. In such cases, the lights will be dimmed to 80% of their normal power between 9pm and 1am and to 60% of their normal power between 1am and 5am.

The system has fully adjustable settings allowing us to change and have alternative settings for different days of the week, tweak individual lights as required, take account of British Summertime, or stay on for longer for special events or holidays such as Christmas and New Year. It is estimated that this system will save council-tax payers at least £550,000 a year energy bills, as well as providing a CO2 reduction of over 4000 tonnes by April 2013.

It will also enable more of us to see more of the night sky at long last.

Lights in Woodbridge that will be affected by the Intelligent Lighting system