GreenbuildEXPO and the Green Deal

On the 8th and 9th May 2013, Manchester Central hosted the GreenbuildEXPO, which was sponsored by Manchester City Council, which I attended on the 8th.  On initially walking around the various stands, the one thing that struck me was, that it was all geared up for the Green Deal.  I did overhear someone saying that Green Deal advisor’s must tell people that they receive a payment of £150, I wonder how many do?

The opening speech was by Ashley Crumbley, CEO of Wigan and Leigh Housing Company and on the board of Greater Manchester’s Low Carbon Economy Board.  He stated how great it was that the Government is going down the road of supporting Biomass (Why? Biomass is neither green or sustainable: Biomass myths).  Then he talked about Greater Manchester’s Carbon Hub of which he was a member and of the leadership of Sir Richard Leese (What leadership, he is taking part in a government initiative and it was Nottingham that led the way on Climate Change over a decade ago.  That is playing at ‘follow the leader’ not leadership).  He then went on to talk about Kevin Anderson, who keeps scaring us (as if what Kevin was saying was some sort of joke).  He mentioned that 2 degree C, is the limit between dangerous and very dangerous climate change!  And that Manchester is working to accelerate into reducing carbon emissions (where?).  He then went onto state the business case is still not clear.  Executives do not think there is clear guidance and also the finances are not there and of the cost of borrowing.  (What happened to Leese’s leadership?  If you save energy, you save money, simple and cost of borrowing when it is the lowest it has ever been, except those on the Green Deal, who is he kidding).  He than mentioned Greater Manchester is the second largest growing hub outside of London.  He lastly mentioned a Japanese organisation (what happened to Leese’s leadership, that a foreign organisation has to be brought in, to lead?  What about all the innovation that is supposed to be happening in Corridor Manchester and Manchester Science Park?) NEDO, who are setting up a eco-community trial, maybe in 2014?

I have thought for some time this ‘Green Deal’ only benefits large companies, especially the big 6. People are struggling to pay their energy bills and many in Manchester suffer from fuel poverty. Going to the GreenBuild Expo in Manchester only reinforced this impression. Then I read a letter in the Architects’ Journal’s Annual Green issue (28.02.13): Green Deal: costly…

‘Regarding your article about the Green Deal (AJ 31.01.13), I’ve felt like a little boy who told the Emperor he was in his underpants. I have worked as an architect on all types and sizes of projects, both public and private sector, I have recently attended many Green Deal-related workshops and seminars. I also sit on the Small Practice Committee at RIBA, where the Green Deal has been discussed at length. Here are my thoughts on the topic: The Green Deal seems to be a very expensive way to fund improvements, with the only beneficiaries being the City (via high-interest loans), the government (collecting VAT and meeting carbon reduction targets), assessors, suppliers and installers (making normal profit margins) and private energy firms, which will be almost encouraged by the government to increase rates to make the ‘Golden Rule’ work. The Green Deal appears to be aimed at people who do not have the money to pay for improvements up-front (which would be cheaper), but the government assumes these same people will have enough money to pay vastly higher energy bills. Property values could be adversely affected by Green Deal alterations and outstanding debt that will be attached to the property.  I would not want to buy a house with a charge on it, so assume no one else would, either.  My guess much of the equipment being promote now could be obsolete in less than 5 years – long before it is paid for.  I have not heard mention of Building Regs Approval of Green Deal improvements.  I have recently…’ Marianne Davys, Marianne Davys Architects.

I can only agree with Marianne’s comments but go further and say the emperor is absolutely stark naked and possibly stark raving mad.

Reducing the € 45 billion health cost of air pollution from lorries — European Environment Agency (EEA)

Another report from the European Environmental Agency highlighting the health costs of exhaust from diesel goods vehicles.  Manchester is one of the areas highlighted by the report, as having a serious problem with diesel exhausts.  This will be exasperated by Manchester City Council’s decision to expand Manchester Airports freight terminal.  In fact the Aviation white-paper did not mention expanding freight terminals but, of the need to improve port and rail terminals to handle freight.  The matter will be worsen for the people of South Manchester by the council’s plans to also build the Stockport to South Manchester by-pass.  This is to be built despite the fact there is already an existing motorway connection from the airport and Stockport.  Richard Leese, leader of Labour controlled Manchester City Council, was claimed he wanted to turn Manchester into another Barcelona.  It could get his wish, as Manchester is not far behind Barcelona on diesel exhaust pollution.

Reducing the € 45 billion health cost of air pollution from lorries — European Environment Agency (EEA).

Alexandra Park lakeside vigil

On Sunday 17th February 2013, a number of people came to the lakeside between 17:30 and 19:00 hrs to attend a vigil for the Ecocide taking place at Alexandra Park.  There were some members of Save Ancoats Dispensary vigil in attendance as well, having walked from Ancoats.  Most people there understood the irreparable damage being done to the local environment and biodiversity.  One young female had spotted a bat that very night.  Manchester City Council had never carried out an Environmental Impact Assessment and had only carried out a cursory ecological assessment.  If they had done so, they would of realised that their plans contravened their own policies and national policies towards the environment and biodiversity.   And it is mind-boggling that the Heritage Lottery Fund, decided to fund this project, even though it is destroying what the Victorians had set out to do.  They have proved themselves to be another ‘not-fit-for-purpose’ quango.  And  councillor Nigel Murphy had told me that the tree removal was necessary because the Park was unsafe at night.  Not long ago, I emailed with residents living on the boundary of Barrack Street Park, were concerned about the lack of lighting at night.  They felt unsafe crossing the park at night to visit neighbours.  Nigel Murphy, replied saying there was no money for lighting on the park.  And yet millions are being wasted on this ecocide on Alexandra Park.  Image



On Tuesday (12/02/13) a protester was dragged from a tree by Group 4 staff, causing him to fall against those who had pulled him down. The police then arrested him for assault and detained him.   Also, felling continued within 10 metres of people, another breach of Health and Safety at Work Act. It has also been mentioned that all the timber has been sold to Westfields for £10,000. Some of the large mature hardwood trees would fetch more than that alone. So who is profiting from this destruction to a vital part of the City’s lungs?

Save Alexandra Parks Trees

heron1There will will be a friendly candle-lit vigil around the pond on Sunday 17th 5.00pm – 6.30pm. For anyone who wants to quietly reflect on the trees that have been felled and who want to be surrounded by other understanding folk. This is a chance for like minded members of the community to unite in a peaceful way. Bring your candles, lanterns, and tea lights (small torches will come in handy too).

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A discussion with Nigel Murphy (Labour councillor for Hulme and the Environment)

I was walking home (16:40, 6/2/13) from the 8th Day along Stretford Road, when I bumped into Nigel Murphy (Labour councillor for Hulme and the Environment).  He told me he was waiting for a bus into town because he had been walking all day, then asked how were things with me.  I mentioned they were not very good, (there are lots of things like Birley Fields and the lack of action by the council on climate change), especially with things like Alexandria Park.  He mentioned people should read what it is really about and not listen to the protesters who are exaggerating the number of trees being felled.  I said I had read the aborculturist’s report and that mature (maybe originally planted by the Victorians) were being felled when they were in good condition.  I asked about the old green houses, they were not be restored, so how is this restoring the park to it former glory.  Nigel replied that he remembered the greenhouses from a kid and walking in the park.  And that the park was unsafe to walk in at night, and that this work was to make it safe.  It was to make this park fit for today.  If that is the case, then surely they have obtained funds falsely from the National Heritage Fund?  The National Heritage Fund is about support the restoration of heritage assets and clearly this is not the council’s intention.  Those who agreed to the council’s proposals seemed to of forgotten previous projects by the council, such as Piccadilly Gardens.  Is that fit for today, what was done to Piccadilly Gardens?  Alexandra Park Trees

Why Climate Scientists Have Consistently UNDERestimated Key Global Warming Impacts | ThinkProgress

Some of have suggested things will be worse than that suggested, such as the total breakdown of the Gulf Stream, plunging the UK into another Ice Age.  Kevin Anderson of the University of Manchester’s Tyndall Centre, spoke at a breakfast at the Rylands Library and spoke at Manchester’s Town Hall on the urgency of reducing our carbon emissions to prevent catastrophic climate change.  Which I mention in an earlier post and that to me, the councillors, especially Richard Leese, the leader, did not appear that interested in.

It is also mentioned in this months Manchester Climate Monthly.  There is a new research paper recently published that suggests scientist have consistently under-estimated the effects of climate change.  And that things are a lot worse than it was ever thought.  Though I feel, it is doubtful our politicians will change their attitudes and policies.  No doubt, believing they will be okay because they are rich.  They may soon find out, they ARE in it with US, and that they cannot eat or drink money:  Why Climate Scientists Have Consistently UNDERestimated Key Global Warming Impacts | ThinkProgress.

Democratic Manchester City Council!

Manchester City Council continue to show, that they are overwhelmingly not acting in the residents best interests, once again ignoring it’s electorate. It has almost total control of the council and acts as a dictatorship. This is to ensure that Bernstein and Leese build their ivory towers, ensuring the City of Manchester, is all fur-coat and no knickers:  Mersey Valley warden service facing the axe.

manchester climate monthly

Two must-read articles about Alexandra Park, where the chainsaws are moving in… (See our previous editorial on the subject here).

From the Hulme Green Party, “Alex Park protesters take to trees to stop “Felling Vandalism”

Manchester Green Party Chair Deyika Nzeribe commented “The campaign group has done everything right. They got over 2000 signatures asking for the plans to be reconsidered, they got local experts to show how the councils plans to be altered to preserve trees and they have been in dialogue with both the Council and funders the Lottery every step of the way. They have been completely ignored.

To draw a parallel, last week Manchester City Council made a great show of how unfair the cuts to local budgets were and how the government were ignoring them. The council are acting in exactly the same way as the government to this local issue.”

From Nadine…

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Amid stiff opposition, Israel occupation profiteer Veolia abandons big London waste bid in final stage

Student at Manchester Metropolitan University should continue there fight to have MMU cancel their contract with Veolia.  Failing that, it is time students started boycotting Manchester Metropolitan University.  Not only for their employment of Veolia but also because of the way they have treated the people of Hulme.  John Brooks the vice-chancellor, conducted secret deals with Manchester City Council, to build a campus on Birley Fields.  This is totally unacceptable behaviour from a Higher Education establishment which boast it serves the community.  It does not, it even tells it’s students, even those live in hall of residence in Hulme, not to go into Hulme.  They claim to be building a green campus when they have felled scores of trees and want to fell another 50.  And their energy plant is to be powered by natural gas, a finite resource, imported and emits CO2.  How is this green?

Amid stiff opposition, Israel occupation profiteer Veolia abandons big London waste bid in final stage.

Mad Cycle Lanes of Manchester: Love Cycling Go Dutch – Manchester

This is a nice blog about a workshop on cycling, promoted by the Dutch that took place in Manchester.  The writer is optimistic that something positive may come from this.  Unfortunately, I believe the writer is naive and does not understand Manchester City Council and especially the Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).  The TfGM only employs motorists, so does not understand the needs of Public Transport users or cycles, their real priority is the motorist, like themselves.

Mad Cycle Lanes of Manchester: Love Cycling Go Dutch – Manchester.

Is the really any need for more student halls of residence.

A report from the Mancunion reported a large drop in students numbers and one article mention 3 student halls of residences in Fallowfield were empty: They even had an article about the rise of Asian Universities, another reason student numbers in Manchester will go down.  The Daily Telegraph also had an article about the large number of course vacancies and especially mentioned Manchester Metropolitan University:
And with the planning department and committee refused planning permission for a student block on Coupland Street; 095082/FO/2010/S1 and another on Boundary Lane: 099782/FO/2012/S1 until the need for further student commendation was proven.
Both Manchester Metropolitan University and Manchester University both opposed these developments with a statement;
‘The statement essentially indicates that there is a real danger of overprovision within Manchester resulting in a high level of vacancy. This is influenced by the introduction of the full £9000 tuition fee for undergraduates, an 8% reduction in applications to higher education and the trend for more local students to live at home.  MMU has seen  27% reduction in application from first year students to live in halls’.
So where is the requirement to build student accommodation on Birley Fields?  And I thought it totally hypocritical of our councillors who were against these applications whilst still supporting the Birley Fields proposals.