Thursday, March 30, 2006

How much renewable energy could £70bn buy?!

According to BBC news today, it is now estimated that it will cost more than £70bn to clean up the nuclear waste from existing nuclear power stations. The previous estimate was £56bn. In addition, BNFL is planning to sell off its clean-up business - so a private company, dependent on public money, will be making a profit out of cleaning up nuclear waste. The whole concept of a company trying to make money out of this fills me with horror (for "increasing efficiency" read "cutting corners or paying workers less") .

To put this £70 bn in context, it is two thousand times more than what the government plans to give to homes and businesses over the next 3 years to support small-scale green energy projects (£30m). It is for waste from nuclear power stations which currently only provide 3.6% of the UK energy supply. Clearly this waste has now got to be treated and stored, but what kind of idiots would then also seriously consider investing billions more in a new generation of nuclear power stations when that money could go so much further invested in renewable energy? Surely we could put a solar panel or mini-wind turbine on practically every home in Britain for the amount it's going to cost, reducing fuel poverty for milions in the process?

There are so many reasons why nuclear is not the answer and increased energy efficiency and investment in renewables (in particular micro-generation) is. I could go into it here, but the sites/reports below say it so much better.

For those who want to discuss the issues further/find out more, we are having a public mtg at St Andrew's Centre in Brockley on 20th Apr.

Green Energy Works!
Presentation and discussion on renewable energy and alternatives to nuclear power
With Keith Taylor, Green Party Principal Speaker
Thursday 20th April, 7.30pm
St Andrew's Centre (corner of Brockley Road and Wickham Rd)
All welcome. For further info

Incidentally, locally, the awful SELCHP incinerator in New Cross proudly boasts that it has 'the power to turn waste into heat for homes' yet as I understand it, it has still to be connected to anything, so the power to heat 30,000 homes is going up in smoke. I hope I'm wrong on this but a recent written answer to a mayoral question certainly hinted that this was still the case.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Save Ladywell Pool!

Save Ladywell Pool Mayoral Hustings, Saturday 1st April, 2.30-5pm, Ladywell Leisure Centre

We've now spoken to over 1,000 Ladywell residents, yet so far, only one person has told me they agree with the decision to close Ladywell Leisure Centre and put a school there (they said they were going to vote Green anyway!). People are not happy with the gap there will be in swimming pool facilities in central Lewisham until the new pool is built on the Sundermead estate. They are also far from convinced that such a busy road is a good site for a secondary school. Yesterday Forest Hill Pools were closed due to concerns over rotten roof beams, and they are unlikely to reopen until after the programmed refurbishment. At this rate it is looking increasing unlikely that the remaining swimming facilities will be able to cater for all the school swimming, local swimming club and public swimming. Any hopes of Lewisham swimmers competing in the 2012 Olympics are looking ever more distant.

So, as I understand it, the council spent over a £1m doing up Telegraph Hill school, then when it failed to turn around within a year, they bulldozed it and spent a fortune building Crossways Academy, which left them short of a secondary school. They then spent over £1m on Ladywell Leisure Centre (a good chunk of that on removing asbestos, admittedly) and now they plan to bulldoze it and build a secondary school there, then build another leisure centre on the Sundermead estate! Correct me if I'm wrong on any of that. I'd also be interested to know exactly how the new leisure centre will be funded - PFI, I fear.

The Save Ladywell Pool campaign are organising a hustings for Lewisham Mayoral candidates. It will take place this Saturday at Ladywell Leisure Centre, from 2.30-5pm. Rumour has it that Labour councillors have been given a 3-line whip to go along and support Steve Bullock. If this is just a scurrilous rumour, then, again, please do correct me. BTW, if there's anyone else in Ladywell who supports the closure of the pool, do let me know . . .

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Spring, dog mess and speed humps

Spring finally seems to be here now - daffodils are out and frog spawn appeared in my pond this weekend. Amazing how much wildlife people are telling me they get in their gardens - newts, woodpeckers, parakeets. Should be able to canvass from now on without feet and fingers going numb with cold.

Busy weekend collecting signatures for nomination papers and canvassing. Several people mentioned the amount of dog mess on hilly fields and the need for more stringent enforcement of law to get people to clear up after their dogs.

One of the topics residents most often raise is speed humps - opinion really does seem to be split on this, with a number of people saying they cause back injuries, others delighted to have them on their street. They certainly aren't the answer to all traffic problems, but they are proven to make drivers slow down and ultimately reduce fatalities. They do need to be carefully positioned though - some drivers swerve to avoid them, which can be intimidating for cyclists. With any luck, in a few years all cars will be fitted with speed limiters, and speed humps will become redundant. Real keenies can see a 48-page report on them from the London Assembly here and a Green response to critics of speed humps.

As a cyclist who doesn't drive but lives on a road which has traffic tailbacks everyday I tend to think that drivers whinge way too much and those of us who breathe in all the fumes their cars emit don't complain enough! I spoke to one person today who said he had been knocked off his bike twice in the past year and both times by an uninsured car - outrageous. I'm glad 4x4s are going to be taxed more, but it's nowhere near enough - if you can afford to buy a 4x4, £210 tax a year is hardly going to be enough to put you off.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Sue Luxton, Mike Keogh and Ute Michel, Green Party candidates for Ladywell ward. Posted by Picasa

Friday, March 24, 2006

I thought I would enter the 21st century and start a blog. I hope to post updates on the local election campaign (probably rather sporadically as things get more hectic towards election day) and provoke a bit of debate about local issues. It's also a bit of an experiment to see if anyone actually visits the site and reads it!

So, just under six weeks to go until election day on May 4th. The Green campaign in Ladywell and Brockley is in full swing and we're getting encouraging feedback from people we speak to on the doorstep. Any questions please drop me a line. All offers of help canvassing, leafletting and displaying posters welcome!