Coal – It once kept food on the tables of my mining community

A biomass train at Liverpool’s Seaforth Dock headed for Drax Power Station when full of wood pellets.

The BBC has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-52973089

As an environmental campaigner this story on the BBC website obviously interests me, not least because I was born and lived my early years (late 1950’s/early 1960’s) in a community dependent on the coal mines surrounding it. Of course it has to be good news that we have gone for 2 months without needing to use coal to generate power and at some point in the not too distant future power from coal in the UK will be all but a distant memory.

However, within the BBC article there’s mention of Drax Power Station running on biomass wood pellets and the photo at the head of this posting shows a biomass train at Liverpool’s Seaforth Dock. That train takes the imported pellets to Drax which have been delivered to the UK by ship. My point here is what are the carbon implications of producing the pellets bringing them by a diesel powered ship to the UK and then taking them across the north of England by a diesel powered train?

It may well be the case that the power station is all but carbon neutral and far more environmentally friendly than it was when it burned traditional fossil fuels but is biomass really as green as we are being led to believe when you take into account deforestation and the energy used to produce and deliver the wood pellets to Drax? It would be interesting to see any background work done by environmental scientists on this.

This article from the i newspaper (linked below) tackles some of the issues I have concerns about:-

inews.co.uk/news/environment/uk-drax-power-plant-burning-us-trees-wood-pellets-deforestation-303461

And for the context of my family involvement in coal mining here’s a blog posting about that from 2019:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/06/02/nottinghamshire-the-miners-strike/

Altcar – Light & shade on the S&CLER

Great Altcar Civil Parish in West Lancashire remains a predominately rural community to this day. It lost its very rural passenger service along the Southport & Cheshire Lines Extension Railway in 1952, well before Beeching came along.

The trackbed is now a part of the National Cycle Network, the Trans Pennine Trail and is known as the Cheshire Line Path.

The two light and shade shots in this posting were taken just to the north of the site of the former Altcar & Hillhouse Station. Both are looking south and from the same location – the next bridge north of the B5195 Wood Lane.

If you click on the photos to enlarge them you will see more detail. The first one shows the next bridge south (Wood Lane) and the former station would have been just the other side of it where a sewerage works now stands at the side of the Cheshire Lines path.

I love the stone and brickwork in these shots, built to last you might say. The line opened in September 1884, so these bridges are over 130 years old and still looking pretty much as good as the day they were erected.

The first shot is also amongst my Flickr photos at – www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Rimrose Valley Country Park – An Update

Rimrose Valley Country Park.

The latest news from Rimrose Valley Friends is available via the link below:-

www.rimrosevalleyfriends.org/news/running-track-restoration-valleywatch-and-more/

Rimrose Valley Country Park

Why I’m backing Layla Moran for Lib Dem Leader

This is Layla’s* vision for a better future for us all. It was published via the Independent 27th May:-

‘Around the world, people are looking to their leaders for guidance. Some people will feel safe and hopeful. Others may feel uneasy and question their nation’s choices. In moments like this, decent leadership can make an enormous difference to people’s lives.

For me, the best leadership is calm, measured and purposeful. It is open, transparent and direct. Good leaders spell out what they and their parties stand for, allowing people to grasp the ideas, embrace change and move forward together.

So, as I enter the Liberal Democrat leadership race, I want to make my vision for our country clear. In the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis, I want to champion a more compassionate and cooperative United Kingdom that gives every person and our planet a chance to thrive.

Where everyone has access to high-quality education and retraining. Where politicians work together to help the most vulnerable, and key workers are respected and paid a fair wage. Where we cherish nature as the finite resource it is, rather than continue the managed exploitation we have now.

As a former teacher, education is close to my heart. I joined the Lib Dems because their education policies are best placed to ensure every child is world-ready, not just exam-ready. The educational inequalities that existed when I first joined the party more than 12 years ago are still here; in fact, many have become further entrenched.

When I reimagine the education system, I picture more investment in the early years, to reduce inequalities before children get into a classroom. More power for teachers to design a world-class education system, which recognises and supports children with practical skills as well as academic. And, a nationwide adult retraining programme to get people back on their feet and into work.

Our economic approach also needs urgent change. As the country recovers, we mustn’t leave anyone in our society behind. A Universal Basic Income is necessary to support those who fall on hard times. We must invest in education, health, social care and public services, and give all frontline workers the support they deserve. And let’s prioritise our wellbeing and mental health alongside economic growth, because now more than ever, we need to move forward positively and compassionately.

We have an opportunity to steal a march on the environmental crisis, too. In the past months, travel has reduced, and the demand for coal and oil has plummeted. This presents us with a precious opportunity to flatten the climate curve.

I want to see a UK which is not just carbon neutral but carbon negative. Young people, given they will have to carry this burden for us all, should be involved in the decision-making processes for achieving this ambitious goal. We must acknowledge the part that biodiversity catastrophe plays in pandemics, and recognise that to build resilience, we need to talk about habitat as well as carbon.

In areas such as education, economy and environment, the country simply must move forward, rather than look back. This is where I would start as the leader of the Liberal Democrats, along with our ongoing campaigns to reform our political system and challenge threats to human rights in the face of populism and authoritarianism, at home and abroad.

Of course, to make real progress and seriously challenge the Conservatives, the Lib Dems need to move forward as well.

For too long, we’ve become more defined by what we’re against, rather than what we’re for. The party lost trust when many supporters questioned our judgement in entering a coalition government. Subsequent leaders have struggled to move us on from this. We’ve also lost our campaigning edge; we need to rediscover a bold vision and also build the machine to deliver it.

Under new leadership, the Lib Dems must work together at all levels of the party, to rebuild our campaigning strength, listen to voters and restore trust. We need a national brand that complements local council successes, rather than imposing messages that work against local aims. We need to build broad support across the country, and we need to live (and look like) our values of diversity and inclusion.

This approach has worked in my constituency, where building cross-party support, listening to voters, and a strong campaigning effort led to an 8,000-vote increase in my majority in December.

I’ve listened to Lib Dems members and cross-party voters since then, and I’ve included their contributions in my bold forward-vision for our future, with education, economic fairness and the environment at its heart.

The sliver of silver in the clouds of this crisis is the once in a generation opportunity make our country fairer and more liberal. The moment for change exists, and with the right leader and vision, progress is within the Lib Dems’ grasp. We just need to reach out, seize this moment, and move forward as a strong and united party.

That’s why, throughout the leadership contest, I will be asking Lib Dems members to move forward together – and Vote Layla.’

My Views on Social Liberalism, Layla and the late great Charles Kennedy

I’ve spent pretty much all of my adult life to date pressing the case for what I see as Social Liberalism. I’ve been a lifelong trade unionist with very much left of centre views but I have never identified as a socialist as I see socialism as too authoritarian and centralising of power. The Labour Party whilst at face value being of the left is actually a very odd mixture of right, left and centrist politics, always at war with itself via its many sects. I’m a free thinking person, and an environmentalist and I want to embrace good ideas wherever they may come from; UK politics is far too tribal and it’s the reason we are in the mess that we are.

I see Layla as a breath of fresh air who will take on the establishment and fight for the common good but from a radical standpoint. I hope she will both be elected as Lib Dem leader and that she will take the Lib Dems back to the kind of left of centre politics it pursued under the late great Charles Kennedy.

And before the whataboutery starts, of course this initial standpoint does not cover all aspects of policy.

* Layla Moran is the Liberal Democrat MP for Oxford West and Abingdon and a candidate for Lib Dem Party leadership

Ainsdale Pinewoods Fire – Hard to believe how stupid some folk are

The Liverpool Echo has the article on its website – see link below

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/flames-rage-woods-after-idiot-18302679

That a campfire would even be lit in the first place in these lovely pinewoods beggars belief. That it would be left to cause this damage is criminal damage to an important eco-system.

Recycling on Merseyside – It’s presently a rubbish experience!

Having left it a while since Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority (MWDA) started to reopen its recycling centres I realised I had wood, metal and and a huge amount of garden waste to recycle. So what to do? Check which recycling centres are open, what’s the waiting times etc.

Well the internet was not a great deal of help other then telling me which ones were open. No live waiting times, no web cams of waiting vehicles, nothing to help me or you assess whether a journey to a recycling centre is worthwhile. Ho well, fill up the car and let’s see how we go. BIG mistake!

It’s about 6 miles from my Lydiate home to South Sefton Recycling Centre in Bootle but when I got there earlier today the queue was massive. Finding my way to the end of it I asked a young lady who was directing traffic how long it takes to get into the centre. At least 2 hours came the response! Well I can think of better things to do than sit in a queue with a car full of rubbish, so you won’t be surprised to hear that I headed home having given the junk a trip out.

But I return to the lack of live information on the internet. I wasted petrol, time and most importantly I added to our climate crises by using my car for a wasted/pointless/unnecessary journey. If I’d known how bad the queue was I’d not have set off in the first place!

And another thing, why would I or you be willing to spend 2 or more hours in a queue for a recycling centre? Maybe it’s me and my lack of willingness to queue for pretty much anything. I’ve never got the British queuing thing which so amuses folk from other countries.

‘If it’s worth queuing up for it’s not worth having’ as the old saying goes

Come on MWDA you can do better than the very limited amount of information you put on your website. I took my rubbish back home and will try another day in the future but as the photo at the head of this posting shows, the irresponsible will and do dump their rubbish in country lanes and ditches.