Rimrose Valley – The road down the middle of it – The subject Labour has hoped would go away

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/public-meetings-over-proposed-200m-10842216

Rimrose Valley Country Park - Picture c/o the Liverpool Echo

Rimrose Valley Country Park – Picture c/o the Liverpool Echo

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above

I have posted about this many times before. My last posting is available below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/12/23/south-sefton-rimrose-valley-country-park/

This has long been the subject that Labour-led Sefton Council has not wanted to discuss let alone vote upon. Their approach seems to have been one of the odd bit of hand wringing, the odd mutter along the lines of -don’t talk about i – and a hope that the Highways Agency (now Highways England) will cop the blame for it. If that passes for community leadership then I’m a Dutchman.

But with a couple of info-leaflets doing the rounds in recent times from Highways England and now some public events it will be interesting to see Labour councillors hopping from one foot to the other whilst trying not to commit themselves. Or am I being too cynical?

South Sefton – Rimrose Valley Country Park

This linear piece of green space which runs all the way from Thornton to Seaforth is under threat from a plan by Highways England (previously known as the Highways Agency) who want to build a road right down the middle of it to service the docks.

The busy A5036 thunders over the Leeds Liverpool Canal in Litherland but the oasis of Rimrose Valley Country Park sits the other side of this manic highway to Seaforth Docks.

The busy A5036 thunders over the Leeds Liverpool Canal in Litherland but the oasis of Rimrose Valley Country Park sits the other side of this manic highway to Seaforth Docks.

Click on the photo to enlarge it

A petition has been launched to try to save this unique green space from the bulldozers. Please see the link below:-

www.change.org/p/sefton-council-give-rimrose-valley-country-park-local-green-space-special-protection?tk=0vN7DiOjtzPyEa12iliks3igUafK6ihH3Vw6YHWMAUA&utm_source=supporter_signature_milestone_email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=supporter_signatures_2500&utm_term=supporter_signature_milestone_email

Of course this relates back to numerous of my previous postings (see link below) associated with the expansion of Seaforth Docks and the lack of planning in that expansion to address how the increased freight traffic will get to and from the docks.

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/10/27/access-to-the-port-of-liverpool-looks-like-those-in-power-but-not-the-council-are-finally-talking-to-us/

Sefton Council likes keeping its head down about all this but my guess is that they want Highways England to take the flak, so keeping a low profile may well be in their interests? Trouble is we are talking pollution from increasing numbers of trucks accessing the docks and we all know that diesel fums are bad for all of us.

This should be an issue that Sefton Council is leading not one they are seemingly ducking!

The website of Rimrose Valley Friends is accessible via this link:-

www.rimrosevalleyfriends.org/

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

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

Seaforth Docks – New (red) cranes arrive

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/business/watch-drone-footage-peel-ports-10421091

The Liverpool Echo has an interesting video on its web site – see link above.

I noticed the new cranes yesterday and the fact that new ones are red as opposed to the old ones being blue. Any footballing significance in this?

Seaforth Docks and hinterland in 2014 - The old cranes were blue.

Seaforth Docks and hinterland in 2014 – The old cranes were blue.

And now:-

Red and blue cranes

‘Ground survey set to assess potential for Rimrose Valley road’

This was the headline in the Champion newspaper on 19th August and a sobering one it is too.

How many times have I commented on the complete lack of foresight and preparation for the soon to be completed river berth at Seaforth Docks? I lose count I really do but to consider churning up a Country Park for a relief road beggars belief. My last posting is here:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/08/04/lancashire-life-magazine-expansion-at-seaforth-dock/

Yes I know the Highways Agency (now Highways England) has been considering this option for years now, so long indeed that no one can quite recall when they first thought of it!

Frankly this carry on is probably the biggest local scandal to afflict the south of Sefton Borough. With the river berth about to be opened later this year virtually nothing has been done (except for the recent works to the big roundabout in Seaforth) to address the increased HGV traffic and the air pollution it brings with it.

Seaforth Docks seen from the Mersey with work going on to construct the river berth for Post-Panamax ships.

Seaforth Docks seen from the Mersey with work going on to construct the river berth for Post-Panamax ships.

Click on the photo to enlarge it

It’s as though no one has realised or wanted to realise that building the river berth for much larger ships will have significant environmental consequences for Seaforth, Waterloo, Bootle, Netherton etc. Only in the UK could we get ourselves into such a muddle of wishing an end result (bigger ships, better port facilities, more trade etc.) without at the same time planning for the movement of freight from the docks to the Motorway network and onto the rail network. Yet here we are in that muddle and one of the ‘solutions’, possibly the only one we presently know of, is to build a new road right through a County Park in a densely populated area.

Where are the improved rail facilities up to? Who if anyone is planning for them? Do Network Rail have a project in their sights to use the rail freight facility in its present guise to its greatest potential? Is the mothballed Aintree – Bootle line going to be brought back into use to help expand the rail freight capacity? Is the Seaforth dock railway link to be electrified so to relieve the communities living near to the rail line from diesel pollution?

So many questions but only a new road through a Country Park on the agenda or so it seems!

The photo above is also amongst on by Flickr page at:-

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

Investment in Merseyside’s Motorways & A5036

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/years-delays-ahead-merseyside-motorways-9557052

The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above.

The investment in the A5036 from Switch Island to Seaforth Docks is not detailed in the Echo story but then again it would seem that they (the Highways Agency) are not even close to a firm proposals position as yet i.e. they are still pondering upgrading the A5036 or putting a new road down the Rimrose Valley Country Park or indeed both! My previous post of a few days ago refers:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/06/26/access-to-the-port-of-liverpool-getting-there-slowly/

By the way have you driven along the M57 (northbound carriageway) between the junction with the M62 and the Prescot turn off? If you have you will probably be thinking about those mounds of tarmac in the slow lane that have appeared in recent times. I assume they are meant to fill in potholes but they are are raised up well above the rest of the road surface and drivers can be seen trying to avoid them by weaving around them! Yes, I know, this is a motorway for goodness sake surely the Highways Agency can fix potholes properly, can’t they?

Air Quality Impact of Port Expansion – Seaforth, Liverpool

In response to concerns expressed by a number of environmental campaigners Sefton Council has recently produced a briefing note on this matter. You can read it below and my comments at the end.

Seaforth Docks and hinterland

Seaforth Docks and hinterland

This photo is amongst my Flickr shots at:-
www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

*****

The Council is currently undertaking an exercise to review the air quality impacts of port expansion and this will examine the impact of different modes of transporting cargo. This process involves modelling the air quality impacts of the increases in vehicle, train and ship movements associated with port expansion using an air pollution dispersion model supported by increased monitoring in the study area. The modelling will be undertaken by Council Officers although independent consultants have been appointed to advise on the modelling process and critically appraise the outcomes. Officers are also working closely with the consultants appointed by the Highways Agency, to advise on the options for improving access to the port, to examine the air quality implications of each option.

The statutory Local Air Quality Management, Review and Assessment process, which involves 3 yearly Updating and Screening Assessments and annual Progress Reports will continue and this will entail an ongoing review of levels of key pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter and sulphur dioxide, in line with Defra guidance.

With respect to ports, a Detailed Assessment for sulphur dioxide is only required for shipping using fuel with a sulphur content of greater than 1% and where there is residential exposure within 250m for ports with 5,000 – 15,000 ship movements per year or1km where there are more than 15,000 ship movements annually. The Harbour Master has confirmed that all vessels approaching the Port must not use marine fuel which has a sulphur content exceeding 0.10 %. There are no residential properties with 250m of the dock. When last reviewed the number of ship movements within the Sefton area of the port was below 15,000. The impact, and number, of ship movements is the subject of ongoing review under the Local Air Quality Management process, mentioned above, and will be modelled as part of the review of the impacts of port expansion. The impact of emissions from post Panamax vessels will be specifically considered.

The Council will be commissioning a health impact assessment of the port expansion that will incorporate the findings of the air quality study once complete. This will examine the impact on health of the port expansion as a whole including the increase in all types of cargo movements. Any significant health impact concerns arising from the assessment will then be considered for an appropriate approach to their mitigation.

The most significant source of air pollution locally is from road vehicle transport and the appropriate local measures to address sustainable transport and air pollution are delivered under the Liverpool City Region Local Transport Plan. The fourth Local Transport Plan is due to be published in April 2015 and the arrangements for stakeholder and public consultation have not been finalised yet. Those with concerns about transport related air pollution should take the opportunity to influence the development of this plan as it will determine how the available resources for sustainable transport are to be used for the next decade.

Port expansion and associated transport access is one of the stated strategic priorities of the Liverpool City Region Cabinet and Local Enterprise Partnership.

*****

My view is that this is a huge environmental/health issue for the Bootle part of Sefton and along the transport corridors that carry goods to and from the docks at Seaforth. Getting the transportation links right is crucial but I fear there is too much going on behind the scenes about this. Little of any detail is available to the public and when I asked for such detail I was referred to a bland report produced in March this year which told me very little that I did not already know.