Solar panels – What on earth are we doing building new houses without them?

These are the solar panels on Maghull Town Hall roof.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-44059865

The BBC has the article on its web site – see link above

I’m a big fan of solar energy and the fact that here in the UK we are still building new properties, be they houses or retail/commercial premises, without solar panels is utter madness. Are our politicians incapable of taking the need for clean renewable energy seriously despite global warming probably being the greatest environmental threat to future generations?

Fracking – It’s getting closer – Exploratory drilling in Great Altcar is on the agenda!

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-42584948

The BBC has the news on its web site – see link above

Here are a couple of relevant links to previous postings on this blog site about fracking:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/10/31/lydiate-parish-council-to-oppose-fracking/

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/12/29/fracking-those-who-fight-it-could-well-be-seen-as-a-danger-to-society/

My own view is that the future of energy has to green energy and much greater strides towards it need to be made so making the need for fossil fuels a thing of the past. For example what on earth are we doing building any new houses or indeed industrial buildings or any form of building without them having solar panels/tiles on the roof? Have our political leaders learned nothing about green energy?

By opposing fracking we can force politicians to really embrace green energy, by supporting fracking we simply kick the green energy can further down the road. We need environmental sustainability, end of.

Tories are ‘green’? No but they think we are!

I want this to be the ‘greenest government ever’ trumpeted Cameron when the Coalition Government came to power in 2010.

key_green_laws

Well yes it was probably a reasonable aspiration back then but only because the Lib Dems forced the Tories down a credible ‘green’ route.

However, since the Tories were given an overall majority by the electorate in 2015 they have done nothing but row back on all the environmental steps forward made in the previous 5 years ‘over their dead body’ by those bastard green Lib Dems.

Instead of ratcheting up the green policies as we need to do to save our world from environmental catastrophe they have been doing just the opposite! At best sitting back and saying we will reach our green targets (which were too low to start with) and at worst putting future generations at huge risk of that environmental catastrophe in its many forms. And all because Tory leaders think that Tory voters don’t care much for environmental issues and Cameron’s wafer thin House of Commons majority only cares about making the rich richer.

This is what the Lib Dems wanted to do to tackle climate change at the 2015 general election.

Five green laws:

A Nature Bill: key measures include legal targets for biodiversity, clean air, clean water and access to green space, extending the Right to Roam and establishing new marine and coastal reserves.
A Heating and Energy Efficiency Bill: key measures include building on the Green Deal with a national programme to raise the energy efficiency standards for all Britain’s households. We will legislate to boost renewable and district heating programmes and heat saving standards.
A Zero Waste Britain Bill: key measures include establishing a “Stern Report” on resource use, with binding targets and a clear action plan to reduce waste and end biodegradable landfill.
A Zero Carbon Britain Bill: key measures include introducing a decarbonisation target for electricity generation, expanding the powers of the Green Investment Bank and banning electricity generated from unabated coal.
A Green Transport Bill: key measures include establishing a full network of charging points for electric cars, only allowing low emission vehicles on the roads from 2040 and reforming planning law to ensure new developments are designed around walking, cycling and public transport.

Sadly, the electorate did not agree and backed a Tory party of very different views.

Also sadly Labour hardly makes any noise about environmental/green issues at a national level these days and at a local level their ‘green’ credentials are in tatters since they decided to build on Sefton’s high grade agricultural land.

Green Belt campaigners, outside Maghull Town Hall.

Green campaigners outside Maghull Town Hall fighting against their own local authority over building on high grade agricultural land.

So who can stop the Tory’s mad policy plan to seemingly make our world a less safe place now and for certain so for future generations? One day, and that may not be very far down the track, people will say the Tory Government of 2015 – 2020 helped to cause harm instead of trying to stop harm to our world and that is a sad reflection on our times and maybe on us all collectively for allowing such a government to be elected.

We do not deliberately put our children and their children at risk yet collectively we often vote for very short-term matters whilst ignoring the far greater threats that we should be focusing on. Damn that Daily Mail way of viewing our world.

Sefton Borough – Put solar panels on the roof tops of public buildings

Well you don’t need to tell me Peter as Sheila and I put them on our own house roof in 2011 and I was also involved in them being installed on Maghull Town Hall and Lydiate Village Centre with my Lib Dem colleagues who used to run Maghull Town Council & Lydiate Parish Council.

Lydiate resident Peter Greener is now trying to get the powers that be in Sefton Borough to seriously match and improve on what has already happened in Maghull & Lydiate. This is what Peter says:-

Solar panels meter at Lydiate Village Centre r

See the meter reading for Lydiate Village Centre which has solar panels on its roof.

I’ve been making enquiries about putting panels on all of Sefton’s Official Buildings. As you can see the readings are significant and show the gains made from one building. Maghull Town Hall also has solar on its roof.

These are the solar panels on Maghull Town Hall roof.

These are the solar panels on Maghull Town Hall roof.

I believe this is an extremely important subject that calls for action across party lines.

Given the recent news around wind turbines, fracking and fields of solar panels, I’m sure you will be interested in solar and water panels on roofs. After all Sefton has very little ‘’spare’’ land that is not close to settlements.

I think it is time putting solar on new housing received real attention.

Anyone who says they don’t like the look of panels on roofs should consider the effects of a drilling rig or wind turbine in their neighbourhood!

Were my 16 years on Sefton Council productive and worthwhile?

Well I have been having a ponder but I suppose the first thing that readers of this posting may say to themselves is that ‘it’s not for you to say but for us to judge’. You could also add that the judgement has already been handed down by my being invited to leave office on Sefton Borough Council by the Park Ward electorate. However, I have been asked a few times since the May elections what I thought of my time as a Borough Councillor so it has started a certain amount of reminiscing on my part, so here goes anyway.

16 years is a long time to recall all the events of note, at least it is for me as I have never kept a Tony Benn type diary of my activities.

Meadows Leisure Centre – Maghull – I led the campaign to have this built going back well before I was even elected to Sefton Council back in 1999. To see it open in 2009 was a delight. To have also assisted in establishing an exhibition space for the Frank Hornby Trust within the leisure centre was likewise an important step forward. Regrets? Two really – in incorporating a new home for Maghull Library within the Leisure Centre I don’t think we fully understood the noise conflict between exercise classes and the expected quiet of the a library. Secondly, I am disappointed that the planned integration between the leisure centre and the leisure facilities in the adjoining Maghull Town Hall have never been taken forward. The intention was for the two buildings to be run seamlessly as far as users were concerned despite them being owned by two different councils. This vision sadly was lost when Maghull Council came under a political leadership with differing objectives.

Former Maghull Lib Dem Councillor Andrew Blackburn who helped me push the Leisure campaign forward.

Former Maghull Lib Dem Councillor Andrew Blackburn who helped me push the Leisure campaign forward.

My old friend, fellow campaigner and former Councillor Bruce Hubbard outside the Leisure Centre

My old friend, fellow campaigner and former Councillor Bruce Hubbard outside the Leisure Centre

Les French (Chairman of the Frank Hornby Trust) with Margaret Carney & Glyn Sands in the Hornby Room at the Leisure Centre.

Les French (Chairman of the Frank Hornby Trust) with Margaret Carney & Glyn Sands in the Hornby Room at the Leisure Centre.

The Atkinson – Southport – For quite a while I held Cabinet responsibility for the development of this huge project to refurbish 3 adjoining very old and previously poorly upgraded listed buildings into what we see now. I love it and am pleased that it has fulfilled the objectives set for it. Regrets? None really – It cost more than the original budget but frankly we always thought it would. You can’t work on old buildings and expect it to be straight forward because it never is.

A Crossens Canoe on display at The Atkinson in Southport

A Crossens Canoe on display at The Atkinson in Southport

Raising the profile of Sefton’s Parish Councils – I put a lot into this as the relationship between Sefton Borough Council and the 10 Parish Councils in its area had been poor and negative for far too long. I renegotiated what we called the ‘Double Rating’ agreement so the Parish Councils who did their own parks and gardens maintenance got paid a sensible amount back from Sefton Borough Council who were also taking money off local residents in those communities but not then spending it in those communities. Regrets? Yes, Labour have reversed the deal and it is now worse than when I renegotiated it. Places like Lydiate, Maghull & Aintree are being poorly treated by Sefton Council!

Maghull North Station – I have been pressing for this to be built for a long, long time so am delighted that the Coalition Government gave 90% of the money required to build it in 2014. I hope it will be constructed in the next 2 to 3 years. Regrets? None.

Site for the new Maghull North Railway Station.

Site for the new Maghull North Railway Station.

Switch Island – Thornton Link Road – I was campaigning for this before being elected in 1999 because trying to win a Borough Council ward that included the Parish of Thornton made this a must achieve issue. It took a while and I have said many times that the determination of the people and Parish Council of Thornton was the clincher; what I did was to take the matter to the then regional bodies of government and persuade them to back the project. The Blair/Brown Government sat of fence and never came up with the money but again the Coalition Government gave the final green light and of course a large proportion of the money. It is now all but built. Regrets? Thornton folk and their Parish Council not getting the credit they deserve because others (Labour) keep trying to claim that credit for themselves.

Cllr. Geoff Howe and a young me in this @2001 shot marching with Thornton residents. My placard says '83% of Thornton residents want a relief road'.

Cllr. Geoff Howe and a young me in this @2001 shot marching with Thornton residents. My placard says ‘83% of Thornton residents want a relief road’.

Me with the then Coalition Government Roads Minister Mike Penning sealing the deal to get the Link Road built in 2010

Me with the then Coalition Government Roads Minister Mike Penning sealing the deal to get the Link Road built in 2010

Works starting on the new Link Road

Works starting on the new Link Road

Lydiate Village Centre – It took some years to get the new building constructed after the former Lydiate Voluntary Youth Club building had been burnt down. At the time Sefton Council (the land owners) were not exactly being proactive and helpful. But the determination of Lydiate Parish Council (particularly its Chairman Dave Russell) finally got us there with me steering the issue through Sefton Council. I have to say that Dave together with former Cllr. Andrew Blackburn and Lydiate’s then Parish Clerk (Brian Beaven) were the leading lights in this project, I was simply got Sefton to be positive and supportive. Regrets? None.

Former Lydiate Parish Councilors Tony Fenton and Pat Foster outside the old Lydiate Voluntary Youth Club

Former Lydiate Parish Councilors Tony Fenton and Pat Foster outside the old Lydiate Voluntary Youth Club

Cllr. Edie Pope outside Lydiate Village Centre

Cllr. Edie Pope outside Lydiate Village Centre

Oriel Drive GP Surgery – Aintree – So happy this got built during my time as a Borough Councillor for Aintree Village. Working with Aintree Village Parish Council and the health providers was a delight and the new building was worth all the efforts of many people. Again, I was there to assist others who did far more than I. Regrets? None.

Me, Terry Baldwin, Jack Colbert and Peter Gill - July 2012 at the formal opening of the new GP Surgery

Me, Terry Baldwin, Jack Colbert and Peter Gill – July 2012 at the formal opening of the new GP Surgery

Decentralising Sefton Borough and empowering its diverse communities – Sefton has always been an uncomfortable mix of diverse communities with little in common and on the back of the Local Government Boundary Commission deciding not to split the Borough up I helped lead a process to try to empower local communities. We set up Area Committees created a Parish Council’s charter and despite the two old parties, whom we shared power with, being highly sceptical of our push to give power away to the people we did make some strides in the right direction. Regrets? Yes, when Labour took control of Sefton they started an inevitable process to recentralise power in their Bootle heartland. They took out 3 Area Committees to create one massive and pointless one in the centre of the Borough. It was never going to work and it still does not work. As for the Parish Charter which was aimed at treating the 10 Parish Councils with respect (and even decentralising power to them) suffice to say that the day it was ripped up in front of the Labour Cabinet by Aintree Village Parish Councillor Peter Gill showed how Labour cared little for those not in their tribal tent.

Fighting for our precious Green Belt and high grade agricultural land – This seems to have been almost a lifetime campaign for me. Just before I got elected to Sefton Council I had headed up a successful campaign in Maghull to stop the Borough Council from allowing a massive area of land to the east of Maghull being concreted over. We won because Maghull Town Council, its local Borough Councillors and residents spoke with one voice that said to Sefton Planners exactly where they could stick their plans! Regrets? Certainly, because I had to re-fight the very same battle again in 2014/15 but this time without the now Labour-run Town Council who sat and watched it wash over them. I made many new friends in the environmental movement but Labour were determined to build on the highest grade of agricultural land in England and we have been defeated. As I pen this posting we can only hope that a Government appointed Inspector has more concern for our food growing land than either Maghull Town Council or Sefton Borough Council.

A petition against building on Green Belt being presented to Cllr. Dave Russell the then Chairman of Lydiate Parish Council in 2013.

A petition against building on Green Belt being presented to Cllr. Dave Russell the then Chairman of Lydiate Parish Council in 2013.

Fighting to save Woodend Primary School (Maghull) from closure – I attended this lovely school but in the early 2000’s it was struggling because it had so few children in it. Why parents living close to the school were sending their children elsewhere when this great little school had been serving the adjacent community so well I do not know. The fight to save it was being run by the Governing Body led by the redoubtable Andrew Blackburn and being an ‘old boy’ of the school I was right behind his efforts. I recall us delivering advertising leaflets around the southern part of Maghull and beyond to help the school attract more children and was heartbroken when this campaign did not succeed. Regrets? – Losing the fight obviously but also being blamed on a doorstep in Maghull for the closure of Woodend by a lady who clearly felt I had done just the opposite of what I actually had done!

Fighting to raise the profile of our local railways – The Ormskirk – Preston and Southport – Wigan lines are both important for the Sefton and West Lancashire Boroughs. Again this has been an almost lifetime issue for me. Seeing Merseytravel (the Passenger Transport Authority for Merseyside) make little or no progress on these two lines was always a frustration. It was as though they looked upon the lines as not being important to Liverpool so they were not going to put much effort in to developing them. The Liverpool centric approach to transport planning on and around Merseyside has always been to the determent of the large towns that surround Liverpool and here Southport, whilst being in Merseyside, has been poorly served by the Authority they pay to deliver public transport. Regrets? – Not being able to break down the barriers between Merseyside and Lancashire that have held back transportation and other issues since 1974.

Southport Station

Southport Station

Fighting for green issues – Whether it be fighting for our precious Green Belt and high grade agricultural land not to be built upon or seeing Lib Dem run Parish Councils installing solar panels on Maghull Town Hall and Lydiate Village Centre green issues have meant a lot to me. Regrets? – I have always found it difficult to understand why Tory and Labour councillors are generally disinterested in green issues. Labour stuck me as being way off the pace with such matters with the Tories hardly much better.

Solar panels on Maghull Town Hall roof

Solar panels on Maghull Town Hall roof

The fight to save Sefton’s Libraries – A massive campaign but one that was ultimately lost as we could not persuade Sefton’s ruling Labour Group to back off from their closure plans. 7 of Sefton’s 13 Libraries were lost and it was a huge step backwards in my view. Regrets? – Seeing volunteer campaigners being treated so badly by Labour. All they wanted was the chance to try to run their libraries as voluntary undertakings but Sefton Labour would have none of it. So very sad.

rsz_protesting_about_library_closures_-_southport

rsz_al_collins_at_a_save_aintree_library_public_meeting_on_26th_october_12_2

I could go on but I have probably mentioned too many issues already. I enjoyed the vast majority of my 16 years as a Sefton Councillor and the 7 I served as Council Leader. Did I make a difference? I would like to think so but that is probably best left to your judgement not to my rose tinted spectacles.

Wlitshire Council’s solar panels saving money – we have known this for years in Maghull & Lydiate

Solar panels to save £7,000 a year

Wiltshire Council has installed new solar panels on three council-owned buildings which it says will save £7,000 a year. The authority expects its annual energy bills to be reduced by £7,343 and the sites to generate £11,000 a year by selling energy back to the national grid.

BBC News recently carried this story.

But this is far from being new news as both Maghull Town Hall (run by Maghull Town Council) and Lydiate Village Centre (run by Lydiate Parish Council) have been generating both power and income in the thousands of £’s for the two Councils ever since the Lib Dems campaigned to have them to be installed.

These are the solar panels that generate an income  & power on Maghull Town Hall roof. Photo taken March 2012.

These are the solar panels that generate an income & power on Maghull Town Hall roof. Photo taken March 2012.

Lib Dems take forward green policies; I could never imagine the now Labour-run Maghull Town Council installing solar panels.