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How do these 3 disparate subjects fit together? Quite easily actually.
So the Port of Liverpool is expanding, that’s hardly new news but the consequences of the expansion brings with it quite a lot of bad environmental news.
You see the once well rail connected port is not so well connected to the national railway network these days. There is still one rail link with Seaforth Container Base/Liverpool 2 but just about the only rail freight moved via it are the biomass trains serving Drax Power Station. Containers have not been moved from Seaforth for quite some time now. Here’s a couple of shots of trains waiting to be loaded from the next biomass loaded ship to dock:-
So having established that little freight moves from Seaforth Docks via the national rail network and of course being aware of the expanding docks leads you pretty much to the rather obvious conclusion that the containers are being moved by road. And as the Port expands the big worry is that even more freight will move by road and that’s why Highways England want to build a new access road to the docks down the lovely Rimrose Valley Country Park.
Locals living along side the A5036 road corridor are already sick of the rumbling trucks accessing the Port and the air pollution that goes with their diesel engines. For those unsure about the A5036 it links Switch Island and the M57 and M58 Motorways to the docks.
But putting another road (in effect paralleling the A5036) right through a Country Park is hardly the solution to get locals on board with and unsurprisingly they (Rimrose Valley Friends) have said ‘no way’ and have launched a campaign to try to stop the new road ruining their Country Park. Here’s a couple of shots of their protest placards:-
So an impasse has been reached and at face value the local council – Sefton Borough – is on the right side of the argument (as witnessed via the link above to the BBC web site) as it is backing the environmental campaigners against Highways England. But as with many big infrastructure projects things are not quite how they seem as the inaction of the Council over many years, whilst the the port has been expanding, is in fact one very big reason why the residents living near the Rimrose Valley Country Park and alongside the A5036 are where they are now.
It was obvious to me whilst I was on Sefton Council that Bootle Labour did not want to discuss access to the Port, it seemed to be their Brexit issue if you use the analogy of national Labour today being unwilling to debate the most pressing public policy issue of our present times.
The consequence of this inaction was that the port expanded whilst no one locally really had an eye on how freight was going to access it, no one that is but what was then the Highways Agency and is now Highways England.
But why did Bootle Labour sit back and watch? Probably because they realised the problem was intractable and difficult to solve. Easier to let others come up with solutions and then blast those ideas than to try to help solve the issue by leading the debate. A problem ignored is a problem that comes back, as is happening now, but this admittedly difficult matter should have been addressed a long time ago but Bootle Labour hid behind the sofa.
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What’s going on at Maghull Square/Westway shopping centre or more to the point why is little or nothing seemingly going on there? I refer of course to the oft promised refurb/upgrade.
The previous owners (The Maghull Group) put in for planning permission to do it up but sold it on prior to doing the upgrade and the present owners have seemingly gone to ground after much talk of them upgrading the down at heal 1960’s buildings and the appalling car parks surfacing.
Apart from the works by Maghull in Bloom’s volunteers what else has been done to try to uplift the Square? I’m struggling to think of any positive actions other than the larger shop units in one corner of the Square.
Thinking back the original owners were I understand a company called Ravenseft (or a title something like that) and I believe that Mars Pension Fund once owned it too.
Despite the many and various hands it has gone through Maghull still has a shopping centre that needs updating other than via the hands of volunteers!
Come on, please get a move on London and Cambridge.
I suppose that fracking was always going to appear locally following Government giving out licences to companies wanting to explore for shale gas. Trouble is the wider political establishment is wedded to this source of fuel, which is far from being a green/renewable source of energy.
My previous posting on this subject was in January of this year and it is accessible via the link below:-
Opposition locally is being led by ‘The Moss Alliance’ who held a public event in Haskayne Village Hall on 10th February.
On 4th January 2018 Aurora Energy Resources submitted a scoping request to Lancashire County Council. This is the stage before submitting a planning application. They want to dill 2 boreholes on Altcar Moss. The site is more or less level with Formby and to the east of it inland. Please note the site is actually within Lancashire (due to the most odd local government boundaries locally) not Sefton but Formby will be the biggest community that is nearest to the site.
Lancashire already has experience of dealing with shale gas exploration and drilling due to the Cuadrilla site near Blackpool which has had a great deal of coverage in the media.
I understand that Aurora will be holding their own public event, also at Haskayne Village Hall, on 17th February.
People who know me will realise how hard I have fought over the years to try to protect the character of the community around Maghull & Lydiate and indeed across wider Sefton Borough from what I see as inappropriate development.
Building on high grade agricultural land has long been an issue with me and it’s why I have opposed much of the land development that has recently been given the green light by Sefton Council.
The other day I drove past the building site off Green Lane/South Meade in Maghull where houses are presently being constructed. When I was a Sefton Councillor I voted against this site being developed. Sadly, I and my then fellow Maghull Councillor Andrew Blackburn were in a minority and permission was granted.
The land had until reasonably recent times been in agricultural use but that was not the only reason I was unhappy to see this particular site being concreted over. What Maghull has been losing over quite a number of years now has been the unique parkland landscape of the former Maghull Homes, now the Parkhaven Trust. This landscape once covered many, many acres over the two sites of the Maghull Homes off Deyes Lane/Damfield Lane and Sefton Lane/Green. I think it’s really sad that so little of it is left and for how much longer will what is left be there?
Yes I know that the Parkhaven Trust does all kinds of essential work (I worked for them myself in the 1980’s and early 1990’s) looking after the elderly and people with disabilities and I also realise that they have been selling off the land to develop that work, but the parkland type landscape has still been lost and two marvelous green lungs in the Maghull community are now much reduced.
Here’s how the Damfield Lane site is now looking as development takes place:-
Maybe it’s called progress but at what cost to the wider environment?
Stop Press – The recent announcement (In the Champion Newspaper) that building on site off Green Lane and adjacent to South Meade is to be extended further is a concern obviously, even though it is said to be for ‘affordable housing’. Of the many definitions of ‘affordable housing’ I wonder which it will be and how ‘affordable’ the houses will be?
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Work continues apace with the construction of Merseyrail’s new Maghull North Station with the station building itself start to rise from the ground. The photo below illustrates the situation on Monday 05th February:-
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Behind the station the progress of house building on the Poppy Fields/Ashworth South site can also be clearly seen. This was the site of the former Moss Side Hospital which became world famous for its treatment of shell-shock sufferers during WW1.