Pollution – For how long is Liverpool destined to be excluded from EU sulphur emission rules?

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2014/08/15/sulphur-limits-for-fuel-used-by-ships-in-the-irish-sea/

Some time ago, with the help of a local environmental campaigner, I published the posting above. Now moving on to the present day an article appeared in the Times newspaper on 16th February under the heading ‘£300m port aims to revive Liverpool’s glory days‘.

Seaforth Docks and hinterland

Seaforth Docks and hinterland

The article was all about the new river berth and the ability of the Port of Liverpool to be able to take the Post-Panamax size container ships. Of course this impacts on the ability of the road and rail infrastructure to and from Bootle/Seaforth to be able to cope with what will undoubtedly be increased traffic to and from the Port. More diesel trucks and indeed diesel trains can only increase air pollution and particulates in and around the docks and I have also commented on this aspect of the revitalisation of the docks previously.

Anyway, back to the Times article because buried in the middle of it is this:- ‘Liverpool is allowed to handle older, dirtier big boats because Britain’s west coast ports are not covered by the EU’s sulphur emissions rules that prevent such vessels going into other European ports’.

So there you have it, a worrying scenario indeed and it clearly begs the question, how long will it be before Britain’s west coast ports are included in the emission rules? Frankly, from my perspective, for any ports to be excluded is unacceptable. Please don’t hang the success of our local economic prosperity on us having lower environmental standards.

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.

Diesel engine pollution – Find a solution before Bootle becomes a particulates black spot!

www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/29/diesel-engine-pollution-premature-deaths-costs-nhs-billions

The Guardian has the story.

It is precisely this sort of concern that I have about the management of transport access to the enlarged Seaforth Docks in Bootle. My postings of 24th April and 2nd May provide more background to this issue.

I don’t think anyone wants to stop the economic benefits of the expansion of the docks in Bootle but if the transport corridor (A5036 – Dunnings Bridge Road, Church Road, Princess Way) from Switch Island to the docks is going to become a sea of lorries churning out diesel fums and particulates then some serious thinking needs doing now. The consequences on the health of those living close to congested transport corridors has to be solved before the lorries start thundering through the southern part of Sefton.

Rail transport is, of course, part of the solution but not via diesel powered locomotives pulling heavy container trains up the steep inclines from the docks without the particulates they emit being safely managed. Electrification of the rail route would be the sensible way forward.

The giant Seaforth Mural

I have commented on this gigantic piece of public artwork before but have now taken some better photo’s of it.

It really is a work of art; just look at the detail in the Liverpool Overhead Railway poster depiction:-

rsz_seaforth_mural

rsz_seaforth_mural_detail

rsz_seaforth_mural_poster

Click to enlarge any of the photos which are amongst my Flickr shots at:-
www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

Expansion of Port of Liverpool – But what about the access?

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-27119412

The BBC has this latest story about the expansion of the Port of Liverpool but the big and very much unanswered question out there is what is to be done about transporting all the extra goods back and forth between the Port and the road and rail network.

This has been a big concern for many years as the A5036 from Switch Island to the Port clearly struggles for capacity now. Of course, the road is also a commuter route into Bootle and Liverpool so at times this regionally important access road, which is the only ‘A’ road in Sefton still under the control of the Highways Agency, is very congested.

Oddly, however, the rail link into Seaforth Container Terminal seems to be running well below its capacity with few trains using it to take containers to and from the Port. I am told this is associated with access charges to the rail terminal and the fact that it is more cost effective for rail freight to use the Garston rail facility in the south of Liverpool. Whatever the reason the effect of an underused rail container terminal at Seaforth Dock is that more containers are trucked to the Port via the already noted congested road network.

So, what is to happen when bigger ships carrying potentially vastly larger numbers of containers start to use the expanding facilities at the Port. The obvious answer is that unless the rail access and facilities are upgraded and become well used the impact will be far more trucks on Bootle’s roads. In fact, there will be more trucks on Bootle’s roads even if the rail terminal is brought up to and used to its capacity!

And associated with all this is the pollution from ships, diesel trucks and yes even diesel rail locomotives. This aspect should not be under estimated as Bootle already has much lower life expectancy levels than other parts of the Borough of Sefton.

This is a huge conundrum which Sefton Council, Peel Ports, The Highways Agency and Network Rail/rail freight operators have to address because if it is not successfully resolved the consequences will be:-

* Greater Pollution with all the health implication that brings
* More traffic congestion affecting everyone in the south of the Borough
* Bootle becoming a sea of container lorries 24 hours a day, 7 days per week

I will return to this subject in due course.