Garden Bridge Down The River

Yes that vanity project the Thames Garden Bridge has finally been cancelled. After it lost the support of Mayor Sadiq Khan it has not been able to get enough funding from private sources. The amount of money wasted is forecast to be about £46 million. And most of that came from public funds, i.e. your taxes, with nothing to show for it at all. But better late than never so far as cancellation is concerned.

It was a bridge sold on attracting tourists but was not in the right place and not useable by many people who might wish to cross the Thames at that point. No proper cost/benefit analysis was done on it. But like that other more grandiose vanity transport project, HS2, once these projects get launched they soon gain a momentum of their own as lobbyists for commercial groups who might benefit promote the project.

Now HS2 has only spent about £2 billion to date, without laying a single foot of track, but if it was cancelled now might save over £70 billion. As with the Garden Bridge, there are lots of other better uses to which the money could be put.

It’s not too late. Just time to make a tough decision.

Roger Lawson

Judicial Reviews invoked by Motoring Groups

T-Charge. The Sun has reported that FairFuelUK are planning to challenge the Mayor of London’s introduction of the “Toxicity Tax” (“T-Charge”) via a judicial review in the High Court. This is a tax of £10 on certain older vehicles that do not meet newer emission standards that is being imposed from October if they are driven into the central congestion charge area.

The challenge will be on the basis that it is unfair discrimination against a small minority of road users when other vehicles (e.g. TfL buses) and other sources (e.g. construction machinery and diggers) generate more pollution. In other words, it is an unreasonable attack on car users.

FairFuelUK may be looking for financial support to enable them to fight this case (judicial reviews are expensive), so anyone interested in this matter should keep an eye open for further news.

Croydon 20MPH. Another judicial review where the case has already been filed in court is that over the public consultation in Croydon on implementation of the blanket 20 MPH speed limit. The ABD supported an active local campaign against the proposals (see http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Croydon20.htm ) and we have also complained to the Council about the defective consultation process. The process was changed from one area to another, apparently with the objective of obtaining the desired result, the information provided to residents was biased, the results ignored, and objections not considered properly. There are established legal principles about how public consultation should be run to ensure they are fair and unbiased, which is no doubt the basis of the challenge.

Both cases are in essence about illogical and unreasonable attacks on car and van drivers in the name of environmental improvement when there will allegedly be negligible advantage but significant costs imposed on drivers.

Roger Lawson

 

H&F Air Quality Consultation and Surprising News

The London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham have produced an Air Quality Action Plan which is now open to public consultation. In summary, their proposals include:

  • Launching an electric vehicle hiring scheme – with a year’s free membership for local people,
  • Encouraging people to use electric vehicles by extending their network of charging bays,
  • Fining drivers who leave their engines running unnecessarily
  • Becoming the leading cycle-friendly borough in London with cycle quietways, cycle storage and cycle superhighways,
  • Encouraging more walking by tackling congestion, traffic speeds and by providing more greenery,
  • Reducing fossil-fuel boilers by replacing them with ultra-low nitrogen oxide boilers and ensuring energy plants are regulated through the planning process.

Not too many surprises there apart from the last one perhaps. But in the detail of the plan there is some surprising information. For example, it shows that as regards the impact of road transport on PM10, some 76% of them come from tyre and brake wear rather than engine tailpipe emissions.

Even more noteworthy is a statement on page 13 that they estimate that by 2020 emissions from road transport will reduce so much that it is projected that domestic and commercial gas sources will become the largest contributor of NOX in the borough, relegating transport to second place.

So will Mayor Sadiq Khan penalise inefficient and older heating boilers soon by forcing users to upgrade them, or imposing “emission charges” on them in the same way he has done for older car users?

It would be rational if he did, and clearly much more needs to be done to suppress dust on London’s streets. It was interesting watching an old film recently on television, the Blue Lamp, set in 1950, which showed water being sprayed from tankers to do just that. Perhaps we should reintroduce them. Other European cities use them. Or are they already being used in London but I don’t get up early enough to see them?

The H&F Draft Action Plan can be read here: https://www.lbhf.gov.uk/sites/default/files/section_attachments/hf_draft_air_quality_action_plan_2018-2023.pdf

Local residents should submit some comments.

Roger Lawson

 

The Social Costs of Air Pollution

A very good paper on the costs of air pollution in the UK, and the costs likely to be imposed on the public by the proposed measures nationwide, particularly in London, has been produced by Neil Lock. It is entitled “The Social Costs of Air Pollution from Cars in the UK” and is available here: http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Social-Cost-Cars.pdf

Mr Lock in his Conclusion to the note says the following: “If my figures are right, then on the specific issue of air pollution from cars in the UK, there may be a case for charging drivers of Euro 3 and perhaps Euro 4 diesel cars to enter certain very limited areas like central London. There is no social cost case for any such charges for Euro 5 or 6 diesels, or for any petrol cars. There is a case for charging drivers of diesels, and of petrol cars which do not meet the latest standard, an amount equivalent to the social cost of the pollution they cause (excluding the part of the pollution from diesels which is the manufacturer’s fault). There is no case for charging any more than this.”

He also says: “It is high time, I think, for the good people of the UK and of the world to wake up. To see the deep green agenda for what it is. To reject it and its proponents. And to seek to set up in its place just measures based on good science, honesty and common sense.”

The paper is well worth reading, particularly by those who live in London and who will be affected by Sadiq Khan’s plans. More technical data is available to support his case if you need it. Mr Lock can be contacted at e-mail: neillock@aol.com.  Mr Lock is a software consultant, with a degree in mathematics. He lives in Surrey and drives a diesel car, which he says he would not have bought if he could have found a petrol one of the model he wanted at the time.

Roger Lawson

New ABD London Web Site

The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) has a dedicated web site to cover news and issues in the London area. It is present at www.freedomfordrivers.org (the name simply indicating that drivers in London are corralled and penalised in a total unreasonable manner by unnecessary restrictions, reductions in road space, and excessive charges – they definitely need liberating).

We have just launched a new version of the web site which is more modern in appearance and easier to use. The old one was developed many years ago in Microsoft Frontpage which is a totally obsolescent item of software and no longer supported so that alone indicated a rewrite was overdue. The new site still links to many of the old pages which will take some time to update but most of the key pages are already revamped.

Please let us have any comments you may have on the new web site or additional coverage you would like included. The web site is a valuable archive of information and resources for anyone interested in traffic and transport issues in London.

Roger Lawson

Wallets on Wheels, and Electric Cars

A couple of interesting articles in the Daily Telegraph today (13/7/2017). Firstly there was a report on the comments on parking revenues from AA President Edmund King. He said that local authorities are reducing their expenditure on road maintenance and street lights while increasing parking charges that normally help to finance them. Specifically, he said “Far too often drivers are viewed by every level of government as wallets on wheels”. How true that is. The Greater London Authority made the largest reduction in expenditure at £59.5 million, way ahead of the next largest of £6.2 million in North Yorkshire.

Another article was on the potential demand for electric power if the number of electric vehicles grows as expected. Certainly in London the Mayor’s recent Transport Strategy document (see https://abdlondon.wordpress.com/2017/07/07/mayors-transport-strategy-an-attack-on-private-transport-with-dubious-economics/ ) suggests that by 2050 most cars will be electric – at least they will be if the Mayor has his way. The Telegraph article suggested that this might add 30% to peak electric power demand, thus requiring the equivalent of five Hinkley Point C nuclear plants according to National Grid. See publication entitled “Future Energy Scenarios” issued by National Grid. Even if people only charge their electric cars in off-peak periods, the additional demand could be very substantial. As I plan to attend the National Grid Annual General Meeting later this month, I may ask some questions on how they plan to cover this.

But readers may be interested to know that I am planning ahead on this issue and recently had a test drive of a Tesla Model S. A very impressive vehicle altogether and obviously getting near the point where electric vehicles are practical for most car drivers. Somewhat expensive at present as it’s really aimed at the luxury car market, but Tesla announced the first production deliveries of the new Model 3 this week which will be substantially cheaper (not yet available in the UK). One can see that in two or three years time, all electric cars will be a viable proposition for most drivers, particularly if the costs come down as expected. Volvo announced this week that all their new models after 2019 will be electric or hybrid so you can see the way the wind is blowing.

But that still leaves the problem of generating all the extra electricity, particularly when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not out. To meet the demand in the timescale required might simply result in more cheap gas power stations, not nuclear. I am yet to be convinced that this migration to electric vehicles makes much environmental sense because of the inefficient energy conversion involved in comparison with a modern petrol engine. We might end up with more air pollution rather than less, although the Mayor of London will no doubt ensure its not on his patch.

Roger Lawson

Follow Us On Twitter

You can now follow the ABD in London as we now have a dedicated Twitter account. Topical news will be issued there including links to new blog post as they appear. To follow us, go to:

https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

Or of course, look for @Drivers_London

This is one small step to move us more into the modern era in terms of communications to and from our supporters and anyone who wishes to be informed on transport issues in London. The next step will be a rebuild of our web site (www.freedomfordrivers.org) which is looking a bit dated even if it is very functional.

Roger Lawson