Rimrose Valley Country Park – I had it all to myself early yesterday morning

I enjoy cycling down the Rimrose Valley, it’s a lovely green oasis amongst the hustle and bustle of the crowded part of Sefton Borough. So sad then that Highways England are to drive a new road right through the heart of it

Early last Sunday morning it felt like I had the whole valley to myself and then on the horizon the reason that the road is going to be built came into view (see photo above), the gantry cranes of Liverpool 2.

I’ve blogged about this more times than I care to recall as it has been one of the most ludicrous pieces of regional planning that you could imagine. Best described as a cart before horse scenario, the new deep water dock (built to cater for huge container ships) was constructed before the transport infrastructure needed to serve it was detailed, consulted upon or planning permission given – never mind even built.

You really would do well to make a story like this up. Now of course locals living around the Rimrose Valley are protesting about what Highways England are planning to construct through their green oasis. The latest news seems to be that Highways England are ploughing on regardless and they will not say when they are to start building the road so to keep the protestors on their toes. What a carry on………………

Click on the photos to enlarge them

The second photo is also amongst my Flickr shots at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Time Lapse – Liverpool 2

Peel’s cranes at Liverpool 2’s deep water river berth for colossal sized contain ships, Seaforth.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZL_LYsb_uw

The time lapse video is on You Tube – see link above

Yes I know the new Liverpool 2 container terminal is controversial because it was built before the transport access for freight to and from it was sorted out – cart before horse I’ve heard it called – but this time lapse video is actually quite interesting and worth looking at

Access to the Port of Liverpool – Some good news at last to boost rail freight

Class 66 Diesel Locos at Seaforth Container Terminal

From a Merseytravel briefing

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Peel Ports partners with DB Cargo for first rail freight service

Peel Ports has partnered with the freight company, DB Cargo UK to provide a new rail service for containers via the Port of Liverpool for the first time. The new service provides shipping lines, forwarders, tank operators and cargo-owners with a seamless route, between the quayside at Liverpool and Scotland. The first service is due to start on 8th May, with goods loaded in Liverpool and transferred to Mossend terminal in Glasgow, before onward delivery to destinations across Scotland. The returning service to Liverpool will carry Scottish goods for export, with a large portion destined for America. Visit the Peel Ports website for more information.

www.peelports.com/news/2018/peel-ports-partners-with-db-cargo-for-first-rail-freight-service

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Although this is clearly a step in the right direction in terms of getting freight to and from the Port of Liverpool it will in reality only scratch the surface with the vast majority of containers being taken to and from the port via road haulage along the now beyond capacity A5036 Dunnings Bridge Road to Switch Island.

Rimrose Valley Country Park

So the move is not going to stop Highways England’s proposal to construct a new road right through Rimrose Valley Country Park. Sadly the fight against that road must continue.

Port of Liverpool Access – Rimrose Valley Friends meet Peel Ports

www.rimrosevalleyfriends.org/news/whose-road-is-it-anyway-our-meeting-with-peel-ports/

There is an interesting report of the meeting on Rimrose Valley Friends web site – see link above

Having covered this issue numerous times on this blog site I have to say that in my humble opinion this matter started to go wrong many, many years ago when it was first mooted that the Peel were thinking of expanding at Seaforth.

What should have happened back then was a detailed access study (involving residents from the potentially affected communities) to look at all the implications – positive and negative – of such an expansion. I also think that study should have been commissioned by Sefton Council, working with what was then the Highways Agency and Network Rail or its forerunner Railtrack. But such a move was not made – Why?

The issue came up during my time as a Sefton Councillor but my very clear recollection is of being told that Bootle’s councillors were not keen on leading the issue. If I understood what I was told correctly they seemed to look upon the Port as a troublesome neighbour. My take on this is that without the Council taking the lead the the Highways Agency and Network Rail were never going to look at holistic transport/access solutions on their own and they didn’t.

The matter was not helped by the planning application for the works to the Port being dealt with by Government rather than the local authority as it kept the issue under local radars. Yes I know that Sefton Planning Dept. will have had a hand in the planning process to some extent and that they will have reported to appropriate councillors but at the end of the day if the application had been dealt with locally the implications of access to the port would have been dragged to the surface much sooner.

However we got here the cart (building the enlarged Part) got before the horse (access to the enlarged Port) and if that does not show how poor and muddled headed UK Planning processes are I don’t know what does. Sadly, however, we are where we are and the ‘solution’ put before us is driving a new road through a Country Park! You really could not make this up, could you?

Rimrose Valley Country Park, Labour politics and rail freight (or the lack of it) from Liverpool Docks

Rimrose Valley Country Park

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:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-43085594

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.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Rail tunnels under Liverpool – A more environmentally sustainable solutuion to the Port of Liverpool access difficulties

Liverpool 2’s massive new container cranes

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/stunning-pictures-reveal-secret-tunnels-14081033

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

With all the objections to the Highways England ‘let’s build a new road through the Rimrose Valley Country Park’ preferred solution to try to solve the expanding Port of Liverpool’s access difficulties these old tunnels under the City may well be a far better and more environmentally sustainable solution.

For goodness sake expanding the rail access to the Port is the solution and the tunnels are already there. What’s more the present rail link to the Port is underused.

With thanks to Mike Penn for the lead to this posting