Climate Assemblies Exposed As Platforms For Extremists

The ABD has issued the following press release:

Croydon Citizens’ Climate Assembly wants totalitarian kangaroo climate courts for net zero non-believers. At first it seemed like the LTT article (1) on the London Borough of Croydon Citizens’ Climate Assembly Report was an April Fool joke, but the actual report (2) does contain the following on page 5:

“People who fail to support the law of net zero greenhouse gas emissions should be identified and penalised. We want the majority of socially responsible residents supported and recognised for contributions they make. We also want to see those who let us down identified and penalised.”

It appears that Croydon Council wish to introduce some “thought police” as in George Orwell’s novel to tell us what we should believe.

ABD Environment Spokesman Paul Biggs said: “UK Net Zero policy should be scrutinised by all voters via a proper democratic process including a full cost-benefit analysis (3) rather than by a selected few overseen by biased advisors, which include Extinction Rebellion. In a free and democratic society people are entitled to hold their own views and make their own travel and lifestyle decisions. It’s ridiculous that a supposedly Conservative government is pandering to environmental extremists by supporting the setting up of assemblies dominated by extremists to advise on decisions that will negatively impact the economy and our lifestyles when there is not likely to be any beneficial impact on global CO2 emissions, weather or climate.”

Ends

Notes for Editors

(1) Local Transport Today: Punish people who don’t back net zero: https://www.transportxtra.com/publications/local-transport-today/news/65037/-punish-people-who-don-t-back-net-zero-

(2) Croydon Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change Report:  https://democracy.croydon.gov.uk/documents/s21475/Appendix%201%20Final%20report%20on%20Citizens%20Assembly%20on%20Climate%20Change.pdf

(3) Petition: Hold a referendum to scrap the UK’s policy of Net Zero CO2 by 2050   https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300316

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Decarbonising Transport – A Costly Exercise in Limiting Personal Freedom

Decarbonising Transport Cover

Grant Shapps, Government Transport Minister, has recently published a document entitled “Decarbonising Transport” (see Reference 1 below). From the cover photograph (see above), it suggests that the Government expects us all to travel by electric buses in future with not a private car in sight.

That is actually the agenda spelled out in the document. It follows from the adopted Government policy of achieving net zero greenhouse gases (GHG) by 2050, despite that fact that many people think this is financial lunacy and simply unaffordable. That’s even if you believe that removing all CO2 emissions is essential to stop global warming which is a very dubious proposition anyway.

The document spells out that “Public transport and active travel will be the natural first choice for our daily activities. We will use our cars less and be able to rely on a convenient, cost-effective and coherent public transport network”. If only the latter were true!

Public transport is inherently inconvenient. It never arrives at your doorstep and if it is raining you will get wet walking to the nearest bus stop or train station. You will also get cold in winter waiting for the next bus or train, and may be uncertain when or if it will arrive – public transport is never as reliable as your own vehicle. But the Government is intending to “persuade” you to change your lifestyle.

It also contains this wonderful sentence “Clean, place-based solutions will meet the needs of local people. Changes and leadership at a local level will make an important contribution to reducing national GHG emissions”. What exactly does that mean and what practical measures is it suggesting. This writer has no idea.

It also states that “all road vehicles will be zero emission” and also says “technological advances, including new modes of transport and mobility innovation, will change the way vehicles are used”. Is it suggesting we will all be using electric scooters in future or what?

The Government is developing a Transport Decarbonisation Plan (TDP) which will set out in detail what will need to be done and will be published in Autumn 2020 – the Government is clearly rushing ahead on this policy. The document already published does give a lot of information on the sources of GHG emissions in the UK and the trends in size.

Transport has remained remarkably stubborn to change whereas many other sources such as energy production have fallen in the last few years. Transport is now the largest contributor at 28% of emissions. But cars/taxis emissions have fallen while HGVs and Vans have increased – the latter have grown by 67% since 1990 on more than double mileage. Emissions from cars are projected to fall by 52% by 2050 due to the increased use of electric vehicles. The private motorist is doing what the Government requires however misconceived and expensive it may be.

Meanwhile emissions from international aviation have more than doubled since 1990 and were still increasing prior to the virus epidemic. They might soon exceed emissions from cars. There is no short-term way of cutting aircraft emissions so they are allowed to buy “indulgences” just like in medieval times for their sins. In this case that means purchasing carbon offsets or planting trees under the CORSIA scheme.

The Government is spending billions of pounds on encouraging us to walk and cycle, mainly via local authority schemes. You can see the impact of this in London which had had similar policies and lots of funding since the current Mayor was elected. It has been a very negative outcome with modal shift hardly perceptible except where people are forced to comply by closing roads, restricting parking and other similar measures.

The document highlights that 79% of domestic freight is carried by roads, 13% by water and 9% by rail – the latter two mainly carrying heavy, bulk cargoes. But GHG emissions from HGVs have been rising driven partly by decreasing fuel efficiency. New lower emission targets for HGVs have been set to tackle this problem but the future projections do not indicate a rapid fall. The Government suggests that electric cargo bikes are the answer for local deliveries.

In summary the Government is keen to promote modal shift in the public, whether you like it or not. This is yet another attack on the private car which the ABD has consistently opposed because it is in essence irrational and unnecessary.

You can share your views on decarbonising transport, register for regular updates on the progress of the Transport Decarbonisation Plan and register your interest for the workshops by emailing TDP@dft.gov.uk as well as by following @transportgovuk on twitter.

Please send the Government your views before this nonsense goes too far.

Reference 1: Decarbonising Transport: https://tinyurl.com/s2ohyd9

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Police Powers in the Coronavirus Epidemic and Avoiding Public Transport

The Government is encouraging us all to stay at home during the Coronavirus epidemic, and only travel when essential. This is wise advice indeed and certainly travelling on public transport or attending meetings in person should be avoided. It is a pity that London Mayor Sadiq Khan did not promote those rules when the epidemic first became clear instead of advising people that travel on the underground was safe. He has since changed his tune. But this was undoubtedly one reason why London has become a breeding ground for the virus with infections and deaths from the disease much higher there than in most of the country.

To understand why public transport is so dangerous, this is what Matt Ridley, a scientist and writer, had to say in one of his blog posts: “Most infection seems to occur indoors and worryingly quite a lot may have happened within the medical system especially in Italy in the early weeks. According to one study, on tissue paper the virus survives less than three hours, on wood and cloth two days, on glass and banknotes four days and on stainless steel and plastic a week”. In practice therefore just touching a hand hold on a bus or underground train could pass on the infection.

This writer therefore advises everyone to avoid public transport for the duration unless absolutely essential and some precautions are taken. Those people who are especially vulnerable due to age or existing medical conditions should of course not leave their homes at all but “self-isolate” like the Prime Minister whether you have virus symptoms or not.

The Alliance of British Drivers does suggest that using a car is the preferred mode of transport as it will enable you to avoid contact with other people. You just need to take care when refuelling it with petrol or diesel, and subsequently paying (use a contactless card if you can). Wear gloves if possible and wash your hands afterwards. You could also travel by cycle or walk of course but there is then more danger or coming into close contact with other people so more care needs to be taken and those modes are not practical for many trips.

The police seem to have taken a very heavy-handed approach in some cases and are stopping people from driving on what they consider “non-essential” journeys. Fixed penalty notices are being issued when unjustified. This is not what the regulations actually say – see: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020/350/regulation/6/made

You can leave home and therefore travel for many reasons including taking exercise, and you can certainly travel to work, travel to shop for food or other essentials, to go to a bank or travel to support vulnerable family members. As it’s a lot safer to use a car than catch a bus or train, that should be the preferred mode of transport unless you can walk or cycle.

Some people seem to be using the virus epidemic as a justification for stopping all use of private transport but that is certainly not valid. This is what Mark McArthur-Christie had to say recently in a tweet: “Buses are great – they’re a fine way to get around if (a) there is one and (b) you have time, money and flexibility to spare. But making people use a bus when they have a car is like making them use a launderette when they have a washing machine at home”.

That’s an argument worth remembering.

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More Comments on Hammersmith and Fulham Road Closure Scheme

Here are some more comments on the proposed road closures in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham which we covered in a previous article (see https://tinyurl.com/scxyymu ). A local resident had this to say:

LBHF plans to send workers, who should be at home, to build a new traffic scheme when there are no cars on the road!

There is a saying about good times to bury bad news – it refers to the cynical timing of announcements by people wanting to take action that will be embarrassing or unpopular and doing so when journalists and others are least likely to notice. Of course, at a time when we are all preoccupied with COVID-19 and when the roads are empty, we are not likely to notice a new traffic scheme! However, this is the moment the council chooses to introduce one, when it should be focussing all its efforts on tackling the COVID-19 crisis.

With that in mind, please have a look at this from the council: https://www.lbhf.gov.uk/transport-and-roads/share-your-views-sw6-traffic-reduction-plans . It is a proposed new traffic scheme that takes selfishness and NIMBYism to new lows. (NIMBY stands for not in my back yard.) The title of the page says “Share your views – SW6 traffic reduction plans” but I cannot see anywhere on the page giving a link to share your views! That, in itself, looks to me like a ruse not to get any public feedback but to be able to claim it asked for it! Furthermore, was there a consultation? If so, I didn’t see it and I would have thought that as a LBHF resident, I should be consulted. In my books, such practice is manipulative and deceitful.

However, I have not yet explained what the plans are. In brief, the idea is to install number plate recognition cameras and traffic measures on the roads leading between Wandsworth Bridge and the New Kings Road, and to fine road users if they use any other route than Wandsworth Bridge Road. Since Wandsworth Bridge Road is (outside COVID-19 lockdown restrictions) normally very busy this will inevitably gridlock it even more than it is usually and, no doubt, will result in increased takings in traffic fines at the notorious yellow box junctions close to where the New Kings Road and Wandsworth Bridge Road meet. And if you have a doubt about that motivation, ask yourself why the article itself says: “92 per cent of traffic fines (PCNs) issued at the Bagleys Lane/New Kings Road junction were to vehicles registered outside of the borough.”

This traffic scheme has unusual rules. In addition to allowing emergency and other public service vehicles to use the side streets; it also allows local residents to do so and it is explained as a “traffic reduction plan” based on the premise that it will reduce traffic in the side roads because much of it is from non-residents. No doubt the council thinks it is a great wheeze, as they can issue fines, fill their coffers and the residents will like it; but it is evidently ill thought through, prejudiced and likely to be massively congesting once we are allowed again to leave our houses. For example, what happens to customers for shops in Wandsworth Bridge Road who come from outside the area? How will they avoid having their number plates read and receiving penalty charge notices if they try to park in the side streets?!

Apparently, there is a scheme for visitors but how will that work and how much bureaucracy will be involved? Also, how would it be for society if every borough behaved in the same way, forcing all non-local traffic onto a few highly congested roads and issuing fines for diverting? Of course, it would bring chaos and gridlock.

What we are seeing on London’s roads is a vicious circle of increased congestion that has a clear pattern, but people don’t really notice or understand it. It works like this: TfL or the local council introduces new measures that have the effect of slowing or jamming traffic on the main arteries; examples are new traffic lights, widened pavements, new cycle tracks, etc. In response, traffic seeks alternative routes through residential streets. That is met by resident complaints and councils introducing measures to reduce through traffic in the back streets, with the effect that congestion further increases. Local residents are disproportionately inconvenienced because they are the biggest users of the back streets. Because traffic speeds are falling and congestion is worsening, road users mistakenly believe that the problem is caused by increased traffic but that is wrong. The problem is caused by these counterproductive traffic management measures.

The proof of this hypothesis is that vehicle usage on London’s roads has been falling consistently since the turn of the century and with less traffic on the roads, it should flow faster not slower! If, like me, you think LBHF’s traffic camera scheme around Wandsworth Bridge Road is cynical, anti-social and congesting, I encourage you to pass the word on to your friends and family and to email your local councillors, your MP, Greg Hands or Andy Slaughter, to object. The main councillor responsible for traffic is Wesley Harcourt and the leader of the council is Stephen Cowan. Here are their email addresses: Cllr Harcourt Wesley: H&F wesley.harcourt@lbhf.gov.uk  Cllr Cowan Stephen: H&F’ stephen.cowan@lbhf.gov.uk  Greg Hands mail@greghands.com  Andy Slaughter MP andy@andyslaughter.com

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Lewisham Spending £0.5 Million With No Justification

The ABD has been running a campaign to oppose the road closures proposed as part of Lewisham Council’s “Healthy Neighbourhoods” scheme for Lee Green. We submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain information to justify the scheme to which we now have most, if not all, of the answers.

The cost of the proposed “trial” will be just less than £500,000! Will the trial ever be abandoned if there are too many objections? That is very, very unlikely because Councils never want to admit they have wasted money. So the suggestion that it is a “trial scheme” is a fiction.

We also asked for what cost/benefit analysis had been done to justify the scheme. Apparently NONE!

We also asked for information on what traffic modelling had been done to see the impact of likely increases in traffic volumes on the major roads. It seems that it is still being carried out. In other words, the scheme proposals have been put forward without any study of the impact.

We asked for details of the consultations with the emergency services (fire, police, ambulance services). No formal consultations to date – only informal meetings. So clearly the proposal was to put in the trial scheme without doing any proper consultation with them first.

We asked for details of the road accident statistics. Some data has been provided. There were no fatal accidents in the Lee Green/Lewisham area covered by the scheme between 31/1/2013 and 31/12/2017 although there were a few serious and a large number of slight casualties. Drivers and vehicle passengers were the majority of casualties. The figures are typical for inner London boroughs.

We asked for information on air pollution in the area. The answer was that “baseline monitoring” is currently being carried out. So it seems that the scheme was proposed without key data on the historic air pollution and the proposed benefits from the scheme.

Bearing in mind the claims for “rat-running” on the area’s roads we asked for what proportion of the claimed vehicles were non-resident delivery or service vehicles. No data on that is available apparently.

In summary it seems the trial scheme proposals have been put forward without any proper investigation of the need for it. In addition, as no baselines have been established it will not be possible to say later whether the scheme has provided any benefits or not.

It is rather as the ABD suspected. The scheme has been proposed simply by councillors and council staff who have a prejudice against private vehicles and would like everyone to cycle, walk or use public transport.

There is no evidence that it will provide any health benefits as is claimed and it will simply be a waste of public funds. But with Transport for London providing the funds and the Mayor of London encouraging such schemes, this is the kind of perverse result that we are seeing.

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Another Way to Cut Traffic, and Undermine the Road Network

Schemes where local roads are closed to vehicles to reduce traffic have been strongly opposed in boroughs such as Lewisham and Waltham Forest. They create enormous inconvenience to local residents and worse traffic congestion even though the objective is primarily to stop “rat-running” (otherwise known “as drivers taking the most direct and least congested route to their destination” if one wishes to avoid such emotive language).

Residential roads in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (H&F) have come under extra pressure due to the closure of Hammersmith Bridge. The council tried an experimental scheme of closing Harwood Terrace but at a full council meeting on the 25th February it was decided to halt the closure after over 2,000 complaints were received.

But they are now proposing an alternative approach which is to use number plate recognition technology to prevent all “out of borough” drivers from using streets to the east of Wandsworth Bridge Road. In effect they are putting residents first but buses, taxis and delivery drivers plus electric vehicles will be able to obtain a permit to use the roads. More details are available here: https://www.lbhf.gov.uk/transport-and-roads/share-your-views-sw6-traffic-reduction-plans

H+F Road ClosuresComment: the ABD opposes all road closure schemes as they destroy the road network. We also do not see why local residents should have any special rights over using a road network that is public property. It will also be an enormously bureaucratic scheme and like many other camera enforced schemes, lead to enormous numbers of fines on people who accidentally infringe the regulations.

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Should the ULEZ and Congestion Charge be Suspended?

Should the ULEZ and Congestion Charge be suspended in London? Bearing in mind that crowded public transport is a good way of spreading the coronavirus and even Sadiq Khan has changed his tune and is advising everyone to stop non-essential travel, would it not be a good idea to encourage people to use private cars and taxis instead?

Using your own vehicle would ensure that you did not come into contact with other people so it is surely a wise move, particularly as traffic levels have reduced and the school run will be non-existent from today. The ABD certainly thinks it is a good idea – we issued this press release to highlight the issue: https://tinyurl.com/rcdoqow . It would enable essential workers to get around in relative safety.

Conservative Mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey supports the idea and has also called for parking charges to be abandoned – see https://tinyurl.com/w7nn8je . But will the Mayor suspend the ULEZ and Congestion Charge? It seems unlikely because the main object of these schemes is to generate money for the Mayor and TfL and they have not reduced congestion or air pollution. Indeed traffic congestion has got even worse since the charge was introduced. It might be simpler and wiser to abandon them altogether!

Postscript: only hours after issuing this post, the Mayor announced the suspension of the Congestion Charge, ULEZ and LEZ.

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