Manchester’s emissions

Manchester City Council recently published their latest State of the City 2013 – 14 report.  Nowadays, the council does not show comparisons between the different wards.  Except for a vague consultation of people’s satisfaction with life and how people from different ethnic backgrounds, from 2010.  Is this because the comparison between different wards, shows that the worst performing wards, are those of the senior councillors, Richard Leese (Crumpsall), Pat Karney (Harpurhey) and Rosa Battle (Bradford) for example.  I have heard a story, that Donna Ludford, the replacement for Jim Battle (ex-Deputy Leader (Ancoats) and now deputy Police Commissioner), has had her friends telling people she is no longer a councillor.  It would appear, she is feeling the pressure from the people of Ancoats who are totally dissatisfied with the performance of Manchester City Council.

My initial interest in the council’s report was in their section on the Environment and Climate Change, pages 148 to 155.  They do admit that the annual objective for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) have been exceeded.  They try to give the impression that Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions have fallen in Manchester since 2005 by 16.1%.  They have in reality fallen by only 10%, having risen from 2,745.2 in  2011, to 2,944.8 in 2012: Manchester’s emissions.  They do not put a link to the Department of Environment and Climate Change’s (DECC), Local Authority Carbon Dioxide emissions which was published 26th June 2014.  Instead, they used outdated information, stating 2012 data would be available in the summer of 2014.  Why did they not delay publication of the more update data was available?  And of course, these emissions are only estimation, and could an under-estimation of the real emissions, especially as emissions due to aviation are not included.

Manchester City Council seem unable to properly account for their on energy usage, therefore are unable to accurately estimate their own emissions.  From what I constantly observe walking around Manchester, is the amount of wasted energy on the part of Manchester City Council.

2013-12-30 23.24.34
Manchester Central Library, at 23:34hrs, when it was shut to the public and no work was being carried out on it.
Manchester Town Hall annexe at 00:55hrs, whilst no work being carried out.
Manchester Town Hall annexe at 00:55hrs, whilst no work being carried out.
Manchester Central Conference Centre at 01:00hrs.
Manchester Central Conference Centre at 01:00hrs.

Manchester suffers from some of the worst health outcomes with residents having a low ‘good’ general health expectation and a low life expectancy.   These are indications that Manchester City Council has failed totally, in addressing major issues that negatively impact on Mancuians.  Despite all their hype, they have failed time and again and Manchester has not been resilient to climate change.

Manchester: A Certain Future AGM 16:00 hrs. 10th June 2014.


The AGM (annual general meeting) was held at Manchester Town Hall, in the Great Hall. Tea or coffee was laid on, and there were some hand-outs available at the sign-in desk, including the Manchester: A Certain Future (MACF), Annual Report 2014. The attendees were predominately, affluent white middle-class, as usual. The AGM was late staring, being close to 17:00 hrs.
The Chair was Victoria Gill, a science reporter for the BBC. She mentioned she came from Wigan, and that somehow connected her to Manchester? She also stated she was in Manchester shopping when the 1996 bomb went off (an incident, I do not believe was properly investigated and there are many unanswered questions about it?)! Then went on to say how Manchester had improved since the bomb. Something you hear mostly from non-Mancunians, and not from Mancunians, who have not seen any real improvements, but did want the Arndale, to go completely. She firstly introduced Richard Leese, leader of the totally Labour controlled, Manchester City Council. Who stated there was an urgency, of the need to act? So  why has he not acted in a determined way to tackle climate change? Joked that it had taken 5 years for the first MACF, AGM (brushing off his abject failure as a joke, is quite childish) and then went on to claim Manchester’s climate literacy programme was the first in the World (I believe Cornwall had one before Manchester). He admitted not enough had been done but the Council will be renewing the City Strategy.
The Key note address was from Tony Juniper, who emphasised that climate change was not a distant peril, it is happening right now. Talked about some weather related incidents in the UK, including the dry spell in 2011. When Thames Water were on the verge on declaring a water emergency, with regards to London’s water supply. That we need to limit Global warming to 2OC, so we needed to be making the cuts to CO2 emissions now. There was a need to peak emissions by 2020, but they had actually risen 50% since 1992. Mentioned the Palaeocene Era, where emissions were at 415 ppm and sea levels were 40 metres higher than they are now. This is the future we are looking at, with most Cities in the UK being under water. That our carbon budget for the 21st has nearly been used up already. That the World Bank, a renowned environmentally aware group, publishing the HEAT report. And Christine Lagarde (International Monetary Fund) on the negative economic impacts of climate change. And yet the UK Government down playing renewables, whilst pushing for and subsidising unconventional fossil fuels, for short-term economic growth (will it even bring any economic benefits?).
He then went on to say that Cities had a role to play. And some had shown real leadership, like London with their congestion charge and policies on local government buildings. Spoke about Oslo’s initiative to reduce their street light energy use by 70%. San Francisco’s zero emissions vehicles and increased cycling, with similar schemes operating in Boston, despite State and Federal legislations. Bristol with their organic waste recycling. Some cities which have improved their green infrastructures (unlike Manchester, which has decimated some of its green infrastructure), have seen a 5OC reduction within the cities (reduced the heat island effect). That green infrastructure improved house prices, reduced crime (some of the issues Manchester campaigners (Friends of Birley Fields and Alexandra Park) have used in support of the campaigns against the council actions) and sustainable drainage.  Mentioned many other Cities but no mention of Manchester. Pointing out that Cities were doing it and proving it works, that other people would follow their example, “Leading by Example”.  If we cannot get it done at city level, it will not happen at all. He stated, ‘Manchester should show leadership, he was sure it can’.
Gavin Elliot, chair of MACF, was up next to speak. He stated MACF 2010, stated what was needed but was absent of actions. Admitted, he was an architect but was also an environmentalist. That MACF needed an annual report, but lacked funds, especially to employ full-time staff. Mentioned the difficulty of collecting data (something I have experience, when asking the Council for figures for their electricity, gas, water and fuel bills), from the different agencies. That only 1,000 people were classed as carbon literate, it should be more. No data on adaptation, 221,000 households, little take up of green deals. Lack of facilities for cyclists, but gave a figure of 1,500 cycling into the City? Green:Blue infrastructure may not affect carbon emissions, but there are mental health benefits.
Manchester will not meet the 41% CO2 emissions reduction, blamed it on part on Central Government? There was a need to scale-up activity, (I would ask, what activity?). The new MACF Steering Group was making some headway, compared to the previously. The need to develop a SMART (Specific; Measurable; Attainable; Realistic; Timely.) MACF plan for 2015 – 2020.
Question and Answer session.
I missed the introduction of the panel (a name plate in front of each panellist would have been a help) and maybe the first question, which I believe was on biodiversity.
An admission air quality was impacted on by transport, which had a detrimental effect on health. Car use and the use of air quality indicators.
Mark Burton –‘How can we change our economy to reduce CO2 emissions, de-coupling CO2 emissions difficult – we need employment and prosperity.
Tony Juniper, mentioned Tim Jackson and ‘Prosperity without Growth’. (A must read for Manchester City Councillors and officials). Someone mentioned, getting beyond those in the room.
Coleman stated, ‘we are in the early stages’???
A member of the audience, mentioned that work should be closer to where people live, reduce the need to travel.
Kate Chappell, replied that the council was reviewing policy with regards to district centres (I suggest she tries living in Wythenshawe, for example, where the district centre is the forum, miles away for most).
A member of Calder Energy Future – ‘should we work together, how can we achieve anything’? To which Sadler, a council official, boasted, Manchester was a City of Firsts. (Yes, in poverty, deprivation and early mortality rates).
A Rusholme resident, stated how they were planting trees, how we had some good councillors (this was a Q&A session, not a Council jamboree?).
Tony Juniper, ‘we need a reconnection with nature, there was a need to restore natural green spaces in Cities’. (Manchester City Council have destroyed green spaces in the City, Piccadilly Gardens, Sackville Street Gardens, Birley Fields, Platt Fields, Heaton Park and especially Alexandra Park).
A councillor from Charleston mentioned heat pumps and that it was a new technology (It is not a new technology, but I believe the use of heat pumps using air source, inappropriate for the UK. Ground-source heat pumps using deeply laid pipework more appropriate). And was quick to point out, that Gavin was wrong and that, Northward Homes had 1,036 homes fitted with solar panels. To which Gavin apologised (was not the publication the councillor referred to, using data supplied by the council?), and said there were examples from other cities and countries. That MACF was a growing network.
Kate Moss, from the Community Energy Group asked how they were planning to work with these other groups and why are they not in the plan?
Cycling – funding for cycling?
Vicky (Sustrains) mentioned, they had not got the community engagement right. There is a bad attitude towards cyclists by motorists (I would say, towards pedestrians, as well), which needs to change.
At the end, wine and juice was laid on, which I gave a miss. I did want to speak to the person from Calder Energy Future, to tell him if he wanted any practical advice. He might be better off talking to Woking Council, Nottingham City Council or Bristol City Council. But he had made a bee-line to Richard Leese, so I left him to it.
My Conclusions
I felt we had some straight talking from Tony Juniper and some real honesty from Gavin Elliot. I felt that the Council, once again, were trying ‘big themselves up’, and towards the end, it started become more a council love-in. This is despite the fact, the council has failed dismally to live up to their boasts. Despite Richard Leese boasts, the only economic growth in Manchester, are drugs and prostitution. As long as the council leadership, Richard Leese and Howard Bernstein, fail to admit there is a problem, take ownership of the problem, the problem will not be resolved. In other words, if they continue with their failed policies and blame everyone else, for their failures, things in Manchester will only get worse. When will the other councillors not realise, they are Sheep being led to their slaughter by a Judas Goat? When will any of them, show true leadership?
The report itself, needs further study, as it appears to be economical with the truth. I am not sure the emissions attributed to Transport, also include emissions from aviation, which will be considerable. Someone showed it too (she is not a green), scoffed at the 50%+ given for the area of Manchester covered in green infrastructure. She also mentioned that they must have wasted a fortune in printing out the report and the other literature available at the event.

Germany’s aggressive push for a clean-energy future (+video)

Manchester City’s council leader Richard Leese,  went to Copenhagen in 2009, waving a piece of paper, ‘Manchester – A Certain Future‘.  Supposedly outlining how Manchester would become a green city and reduce its carbon emissions.  It has become a worthless piece of paper, just as Neville Chamberlain’s, ‘Peace in our Time‘, was mocked by Hitler.  All the while, he has ignored good examples of how this can be achieved, such as in Freiburg, Germany.  Who have managed to embrace renewable energy and energy efficiency, without destroying its historic architecture.  Is it because the Greens are the largest party in their town council?  Unlike Leese in Manchester, who has cleared acres of social/council housing and historic buildings, to build his energy inefficient ivory towers.  Woking, Surrey, is about the only UK town or City, that comes anywhere to Freiburg, in renewable energy and efficiencies.  But Richard Leese has delusions of grandeur, which are fuelled by his sycophantic colleagues and business people.  And instead of looking towards best practice, just blames other councils for not get their act together.

Germany’s aggressive push for a clean-energy future (+video).

Bristol and Wessex Water

As an investor in Triodos Renewables Fund, I decided to go to Bristol to attend the AGM (Annual General Meeting) of the fund.  The meeting took place on Saturday, 15th June and had decide to spend the weekend in Bristol.  This was my second AGM, I had attended, my first being two years ago when it was held at Ness Point, Lowestoft, site of one of the funds wind-turbines.

That weekend was also the start of Bristol’s Big Green Week, which leaves Manchester’s green events in the shade.  The Friday I arrived, it was announced that evening, that Bristol had been elected to be European Green Capital for 2015.  I did noticed their City Centre did seem cleaner and greener than Manchester City Centre, with plenty of mature trees still standing.

View along St. Augustine’s Way, towards the Cenotaph.

On the Saturday morning I made my way down to the Triodos Bank offices.  I found the walk pleasant, not just because of the views but also of the pedestrian and cyclist friendly attitude of the motorists.  And the scene outside Bristol’s Council’s offices beats Manchester’s any time in my view.

Bristol City Council offices

At Triodos’s offices we were informed they had solar PV in place on the roof and rainwater was harvested.  Unfortunately, the EA (Environment Agency) had occupied the offices next door first and they were the beneficiaries of the harvested rainwater.  After the main business of the AGM, we had a question and answer session.  One of the questions was about opposition to wind-turbines.  A member of the board, stated only one site had received any complaints, which was Kessingland, a site a visited two years ago.  The complainant wrote, they could not see or hear the turbines, in fact knew nothing about them till they had read about them in the local paper.  The board member did stress, that they still took this complaint seriously and took steps to mitigate any adverse impact.  The Governments real intentions towards renewables, especially Eric Pickles stated support for those opposed to onshore wind.

After lunch, we took a coach to Avonmouth and Wessex Water waste water treatment plant (sewage farm).  After donning hard hats and high-vis, we assembled in a training room to be given a presentation by Mohammed Saddiq of GENeco.  He explained the board of Wessex Water wanted to reduce their energy consumption and reduce their carbon footprint.  Mohammed, stated GENeco was set up to explore the options, looking into energy efficiencies and into trying to be energy self-sufficient.  You need to do both, to achieve the aim of reducing greenhouse gases and moving away from a fossil fuel economy.

Originally the treated sludge waste from the sewage treatment plant, would be taken by local farmers, for a price.  GENeco, decided to put this sewage sludge through a two-stage bio-digester to produce biogas.  This left a rich compost which the company now sold to local farmers.  In fact, the company employs a team soil biologists to advice farmers on exactly how much of this bio-fertiliser they need, to improve their soil.  220,000 tonnes a year are supplied by GENeco to farmers, as an alternative to fossil-fuel derived fertilisers.

He did go on to mention a post-graduate working for them, who had suggested he could use the grits, rags and plastic instead of it going to landfill.  The screenings as they are called are composted and used of remedial landscaping and the plastics separated out and sent to an energy-from-waste plant (I do not know which one and what process it uses).  Their claim is they are zero waste, as no waste is sent to landfill.
As well as sewage sludge being processed in the bio-digester plant, they now collect food waste and use this as well.  The biogas is used in CHP plants to produce energy and heat.  The heat is used to improve the efficiency of the plant and enough electricity is produced to be able to export some to the national grid.  The even produce excess biogas, and have converted some of their vehicles to run on it,not just their promotional vehicle.

The Big Bug, biogas powered vehicle.

They are producing 42 GWhr/year of electricity, exporting biogas, produce fertiliser and compost and even send treated waste water to a power station for use as cooling water.  And all this was accomplished in 31/2 years.  What has Manchester City Council accomplished since announcing it’s Manchester – A Certain Future, in December 2009?

So why was Triodos Renewables investors here at Wessex Water waste water plant?  During GENeco‘s review of options, they had applied for planning permission for 4 wind-turbines, that was approved.  As, they were already energy sufficient, they had offered Triodos Renewables to chance to build and operate the wind-turbines.  And that was the primary reason we were there, to look at the locations for our 4 new turbines.

Pilings in place for Turbine 3 at Wessex Water, Avonmouth plant.

These four turbines will give Triodos Renewables an additional 8.2MW of capacity to the already 43.25MW of installed capacity.  A very ethical outcome for all involved.:-)

Can Wind, Water and Sunlight Power New York by 2050? –

An interesting article in the New York Times about a report into the possibility of New York being energy efficient without fossil fuels and nuclear energy “Examining the Feasibility of Converting New York State’s All-Purpose Energy Infrastructure to One Using Wind, Water and Sunlight,”: .  The author of the article did call into question

– Does New York State need — for its own sake or the environment’s — to be an energy island? A lot of economists, and environmental analysts, would say no.

Yes it does need to be an energy island, on economic and environmental grounds, something environmentalists have been calling for.  A move away from large centralised power stations, fossil fuelled or nuclear, and to more smaller, localised power sources: Sustainable_community_energy_system.  Case studies of Sustainable Woking can be found at: Sustainable Woking case studies.  It took just one council official to drive this initiative through back in 1991 and yet Manchester – A Certain Future since its fanfare launch in 2009, has achieved exactly, nothing!  It is amazing what can be achieved with some effort and enthusiasm.

Can Wind, Water and Sunlight Power New York by 2050? –

Workplace Parking Levy : Nottingham City Council

Nottingham is introducing a work place parking levy, which to me makes more sense than the rejected Manchester’s congestion charge: Workplace Parking Levy : Nottingham City Council.

When I worked in Bolton I had work mates who were incensed over Manchester’s congestion charge proposals.  As they would have had to pay it, to get to and from work in Bolton, even though they were not going any where  near Manchester City: What Manchester City Council has done is introduce residents parking schemes.  And the way they are implemented, only act as a tool to tax local residents.  Whilst, not preventing the the ever increasing congestion in Manchester City Centre.  When I raised this issue with Nigel Murphy (Manchester Councillor for the Environment) during the Manchester- A Certain Future, workshop at the MMU (Manchester Metropolitan University).  He informed me, that people who decided to live in the City Centre, did so because they do not need a car, and that as I am a member of the Green Party, I should be in supportive of residents parking schemes.  I did agree with him, that I did not see why people needed to drive, as I have never owned a car, motorbike, scooter or moped.  At the end of the day, the resident’s parking schemes, do not stop congestion.

Good public transport, which people can rely on, is integrated and feel safe to travel, on is what is needed.  Which is the case with Nottingham, especially there far superior tram system.  Which did not displace the train and uses British built trams:  Nottingham City also led the way with travel plans, with Nottingham City Hospital introducing a travel plan in 1997:  Nottingham paid for this partly from revenue from car parking charges.  I do not know were the revenue from car parking in Manchester goes to.  As I have pointed out in a previous blog: Nottingham was the first City to introduce a plan for climate change, 9 years before Leese and his ‘Manchester – A Certain Future’.  You might of thought, as he comes from the area, he might of learnt how things should be done.

In an earlier