Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Living with the local Bradwell Nuclear Dump...

On Friday September 23rd 2016 Essex County Council voted to allow Magnox Limited to move intermediate level nuclear waste from their Sizewell and Dungeness nuclear power stations into the new storage facility to the east of the Bradwell reactor buildings just across the water from Mersea.

The experience of watching the Development and Regulation Committee (think Planning) consider the application swung between watching your sports team playing far better than the opposition yet still conceding against the run of play and a weird, dark drama where the truth is subverted in deference to the Party line by deliberately missing a penalty.

Essentially this application is for a lifting of the planning restrictions the same Council voted for just 4 years ago ie: that the Interim Storage Facility (ISF) could only contain Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) from Bradwell’s own decommissioning processes.

After a lengthy submission by the Planning Officer opportunities were given for pre booked presentations for and against the proposal which could last for only three minutes. First to go was BANNG's Barry Turner who ably delivered a compelling romp through the inconsistencies in the documentation. This was followed by Mrs Judy Lea, from the Maldon area, who gently made emotive points that conveyed the seriousness of the impact this would have. There then followed two brief pitches for the proposal from Magnox and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA - keep up!) which were astonishingly poor in delivery, conviction and believability.

Thereafter the debate was conducted solely by the councillors with Mersea resident Cllr John Jowers (Conservative Party) giving a remarkable sermon in full support of his constituency passionately condemning the proposal. Then, inexplicably, as he neared the end of his contribution confessed he felt bound to vote for the proposal on the grounds of a ‘quasi judicial issue’ simply because it would eventually go through on appeal from Magnox. Astonishing!

The Mersea posse was stunned along with representatives from Tollesbury and Maldon. Furthermore Cllr Jowers was given the impression that the radioactive discharges into the river arising from the Fuel Element Debris (FED) dissolution process have finished. This is fundamentally both erroneous and deeply concerning in that this was not corrected, at the time, by the Planning Officer. I would like to think this would have enabled a vote more in line with conviction rather than acquiescence to national government ‘policy’.

Next to speak was Cllr James Abbott (Green Party) who made specific requests to establish where the data was in the application to support the generic claims made on Climate Change aspects comparing effects of transport versus buildings. This was bounced back to the planning officer who effectively dismissed these points on the basis that Magnox had done their homework, therefore it was fine and also, in his opinion, it was ‘basic common sense’.

Cllr Michael Mackrory (Liberal Democrat Party) also made considered points including drawing reasonable conclusions on the potential high level of risk from the caution given about time windows to transport the ILW containers through villages in the Dengie. Furthermore he was concerned about project creep as he considered members only granted the original permission because of the condition they were now being asked to rescind. Cllr Colin Seagers (Conservative Party) suggested that actually an amount of ‘aforethought’ was Magnox’s ‘intent always to use this as additional storage for other sites’ at the time of the original planning application. Amongst other contributions Cllr Sue Lissimore (Conservative Party) also made a pitch that aligned herself with Cllr Jowers and said she was not comfortable with abstaining... and then abstained.

So respect to Cllrs Abbott and Mackrory for having the spine to vote in line with the courage of their convictions, the laws of physics and putting people above political and fiscal expediency. For the BANNG team I travelled with and yours truly it was both shocking and disappointing. However, on reflection that personal disappointment is tempered with the determination to do much more…

We all know that what looms on the horizon is massive, let’s choose to sing in perfect harmony… all together now “there may be trouble ahead”.

Peter Banks - First appeared in the Mersea Island Courier 2nd October 2016

Click here to hear full audio from Essex County Council website

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Colchester Green Electric Car Event

We had a great time at the Colchester and District Green Party's EV Workshop in and outside the impressive Firstsite Art Gallery. Check out the video above from one of our Q & A contributors James Cooke.

An unexpected delight was fellow EV car drivers turning up and aligning their cars alongside the display models, an embodiment of a like minded community!

Here are some further links to websites and commentators we mentioned during the presentations:

Darren Smith's featured car, Nissan LEAF: 


James Cooke’s YouTube Channel: 


Tesla Motors UK: https://www.tesla.com/en_GB/

Robert Llewellyn’s TEDx talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3l_cIAxRc9U

Fully Charged YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/fullychargedshow

Electric Highway: https://www.ecotricity.co.uk/for-the-road/our-electric-highway

UK Grid displays: http://www.mygridgb.co.uk/

(alternative http://gridwatch.co.uk/ for more detail but excludes Solar)

I've had a few requests for more information on my own LEAF purchase and am more than happy to share the figures if you get in touch.


Monday, 19 September 2016

After The Fire Spotify Chart (for statistics nerds)

1Der KommissarDKCBS1,003,100
3One Rule For YouDKCBS22,792
4Laser LoveDKCBS9,769
6Who's Gonna Love You?DKCBS8,121
8Rich BoysDKCBS6,486
10Dancng in the ShadowsDKCBS4,890
11Love will always make you cryDKCBS4,627
12Frozen RiversDKCBS4,578
13Billy, BillyDKCBS4,454
14Sailing ShipDKCBS3,411
15Bright LightsBBCAA2,218
16Life in the CityBBCAA2,102
17Dance of the MarionetteSoCAA1,896
18Suspended AnimationBBCAA1,544
20A Little Sun, A Little RainBBCAA1,375
21Back to the LightSoCAA1,344
22Now that I've FoundSoCAA1,308
23Time to ThinkBBCAA1,229
24Step by StepAT2FAA1,170
25Signs of ChangeSoCAA1,169
26Like the Power of a JetBBCAA1,103
ATF post 2005
28Der Kommissar (re-recorded & remastered)SingleAA/Cleo362,551
29Der KommissarORRMX14,400
32One Rule For YouORRMX1,710
33Dungeon GhylORRMX1,497
34High FashionORRMX1,471
35Laser LoveORRMX1,212
36Dancing in the ShadowsORRMX1,129

Label Key: CBS = CBS / Epic / Sony : AA = Angel Air Records : Cleo = Cleopatra : RMX = Roughmix

Over the weekend (10th Sept 2016) Der Kommissar went past 1 million plays - so a statistic like that gets me going! Certainly the songs that were singles do well, but there are notable absences that were popular live.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Colchester Green Party Electric Car Event...

Electric Car / Vehicle (EV) Workshop
public event – all welcome

Sunday 18th September 2016 at 3pm - finish 5pm
Firstsite : Lewis Gardens : High Street : CO1 1JH
Forum and Q & A on Air Quality, Myths and Visions
Darren Smith - EV Advocate Glyn Hopkin Nissan
Test drives (pre-book with greens@mband.co.uk)

This Colchester GP event could not take place without the generous support of Glyn Hopkin Nissan

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Never mind the Batteries…

Myths and Mysteries - The Electric Car - Future or Fallacy?

So let me fess up straight away, my name is Peter Banks, I drive an electric car and, since my conversion, I want to share the good news about EVs (Electric Vehicles) with everyone! So am I biased? Of course! My carbon footprint is less, I am now practising what I preach and I’m saving money. Whilst the last point will be highly important to many, for me making a personal, yet token, action towards saving the planet is reason enough.

My second confession is I have been concerned about our environment for some time and nailed my colours to the mast by joining the Green Party in 2008. Sadly, in this country, addressing climate change is not given the urgent and critical priority it warrants.

So, how did I get here?

Until recently I drove a diesel car, rather than a petrol version, because I was led to believe that was the most environmental option. In September 2015 I was horrified to discover it could have far worse emissions than specified after the ‘Diesel Gate’ revelations. When I started the tricky task of researching my next car the massive amount of jargon and rhetoric was overwhelming to my non petrol head grey matter! Then came the epiphany...

From a Twitter post I followed a link to a talk by Robert Llewellyn, he of Red Dwarf and Scrapheap Challenge fame, and a clearer light started to dawn. Whilst he now has his own YouTube channel, Fully Charged, all about news relating to EVs, it was his TEDx talk, as above, that summarised his own journey. Whilst he claims not to be a scientist, and he is shockingly poor at mental arithmetic, his layman’s approach to explaining sometimes difficult concepts in straightforward, non jargonised language - with a generous helping of humour - is compelling.

Unfortunately there is much mis-information bandied about concerning Electric Cars, ostensibly referred to as research, which, on closer inspection, proves to be data provided by vested interests in the status quo, aka the fossil fuel industry. So let’s banish five myths to start with.

Myth One - EVs are slow

Essentially petrol and diesel engines utilise Victorian technology. They employ the same principle as a good old Steam Locomotive: pistons, cylinders, valves and connecting rods but obviously use a more efficient fuel. Now, despite fossil fuels being very energy dense, electric cars do not have to convert energy to such extremes: the battery powers a motor that drives the wheels which is highly efficient and makes them extremely nippy. In fact the prestige Tesla cars can achieve an impressive 0-60 mph performance of under 3 seconds!

Myth Two - EVs are expensive

Yes, the List prices of EVs are higher than an equivalent petrol or diesel car, however, there is currently a £4500 pound government sponsored discount, zero road tax, no congestion charges and, along with manufacturer's deals, this actually makes the cost competitive. On top of all that even if you have a relatively low mileage of say 20 miles a day (the average daily car commute is 26 miles) you will save £1600 per year!

Myth Three - EVs are heavier and cause more pollution

I could think of ruder words but let’s just go with ‘Tosh’! Come on, they are NOT heavier than trucks, buses or heavier than thou 4 x 4s for goodness sake?! EVs utilise something called Regenerative Braking which reverses the use of the motor to slow the car down whilst also recharging the battery. Similar to changing gears to slow down it means brake wear is much less and, taking Tesla, Nissan and BMW, for example, their manufacturing plants have each committed to providing renewable energy on site. Another challenge raised is that the electricity when charging is never ‘Green’. Well, even if all electricity used l was non-renewable, CO2 emissions are reduced by more than 50%, and we are producing more electricity from renewable energy all the time – although we could do more!

Myth Four - If everyone drove EVs the Grid couldn’t cope

The founder of Ecotricity has carried out detailed research and the numbers are such that if every car in the UK was an EV an increase of 12% of grid capacity would be required. However most charging is carried out at home overnight when the demand on the grid is at its lowest which actually helps reduce the overall costs of shutting down power stations and turbines to reduce output. On top of this the massive amount of electricity used to refine crude oil to diesel or petrol would be recovered.

Myth Five -The batteries might explode

I’ll make this one short! Batteries can overheat but there is sophisticated technology to cool and control that. So how long have you driven a car around with a far more explosive medium just behind you? Petrol / diesel cars are all potential bombs…

There’s so much more I could share - suffice to say I am entering an exciting new world which fulfils my environmentalist standpoint and is proving to be a very pleasant pilgrimage!

You can share the start of this journey at 3pm Sunday, September 18th in FirstSite, Colchester. CO1 1JH. The Colchester Green Party are holding an Electric Vehicle Workshop with a Guest Speaker Darren Smith from Glyn Hopkin Nissan, daily video blogger James Cooke and yours truly in the Chair. Electric Vehicles will be on display and you can even sign up for a test drive.

First published in the Regional Life magazines - used with permission and with minor edits!
Ref: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3l_cIAxRc9U Robert Llewellyn on TEDx