20 June 2009

We're running - are you?

Cllr Ute Michel (Ladywell Ward) and myself have entered the Brockley Fun Run on 5th July.We're encouraging as many local people as possible to enter the run. The run is supported financially by money from the Brockley & Ladywell localities funds - which mean that entry costs are just £5 for adults (£10 on the day) and all children under 12 are free.

19 June 2009

Tree Works in Ladywell

Why is this particularly boring picture of tree roots in Ladywell here? Residents will be aware that tree works in Brockley, undertaken by the Brockley PFI have caused many problems - typically the problems are brutal works to mature trees. The PFI applied to fell 4 London plane trees - much like this one in the picture for causing very similar damage to a wall on Upper Brockley Road. The works look fairly straightforward and eminently doable - yet the pavement on Upper Brockley Road across from the Parade is still fenced off.

14 June 2009

More delays

This poster advises of delays to the station ramps works - and pointedly puts the blame on Lewisham Council.

We have heard that delays may have occurred due to unforeseen soil contamination - despite soil surveys; or is it poor project management. I have put a full question down for next full Council.

"Can the Deputy Mayor provide a comprehensive update on the progress of the Brockley Station ramp including what the original budget was for this scheme; what the expected final cost of the current scheme is; what explanations there are for any differences; where any additional money has allocated from; when or whether asbestos was detected on the site; what the implications of this was; whether the original soil surveys should have picked this up? Were diversions put in place for cyclists and fully signed?"

Many, many times we are told that money is tight - yet financial rabbits appear out of hats all the time. Given the important location of this site in terms of the numbers of people expected to use it, it is vital to make it as welcoming and attractive as possible. We need to make sure every last penny is put to effective use and that means continuing to work closely with the community backing these improvements.

Whilst there appears to have been good liaison through the 'Partnership Group' incorporating Network Rail, Lewisham, Transport for London and the Brockley Cross Action Group - this liaison when the project is actually being implemented appears to work less effectively.

Hopefully, by the time I get a full answer the station will have reopened - but I'm still waiting for my invitation to the opening ceremony!

11 June 2009

Little Cheyne Wind Farm

I went to an event organised by the British Wind Energy Association at new wind farm, Little Cheyne,
close to Rye in East Sussex.

The event was an opportunity to hear about planning rules, technical issues and other matters
relevant to the installation of wind energy schemes in the UK.

Of particular interest is the role played by local authorities in this process. Schemes over 50MW come within the realms of the 'Electricity Act' and are determined by the Secretary of State for Industry rather than the local planning authority.
For this relatively modest scheme of 59MW installed capacity the process was drawn out over many years - the installation was opposed by Shepway DC and Kent County Council against the technical advice of their officers - 'Councillors speaking up for local people'. However, given the siting of these turbines, right adjacent to Dungeness Power Station I find it difficult to understand how these machines can be in any way more offensive than an old-fashioned nuclear power station.

Here's Dungeness:

Here's the wind farm:

In addition we had an interesting presentation from a member of Swale Borough Council. Swale BC blocked the planning permission for a vital piece of the on-shore equipment for the London Array - adding years to its development and threatening its viability. Although I'm not clear whether this councillor opposed the London Array at that time, it seemed an unusual choice for the BWEA to make on this day. There was clearly a degree of sceptism from some of the other Councillors there today - but the staff from the BWEA and others there reassured me that this was falling.

One of the new things that I learnt today is that planning permission for these farms is for 25 years only - and that proper provision for the decommisioning of the farm is included in the plans - if only the same were true of our nuclear power stations!

Much of the land around the farm and possibly across is open - there are many paths - take the kids and have a picnic - the Marsh Line running from Ashford to Hastings is a lovely ride; Rye is delightful too.

10 June 2009

Hook Switches

This caught my eye - perhaps it says more about me than it does about the railways. It's taken from the 'Southern Stakeholders Brief May 2009'. At least the brochure that it came in was sent electronically rather than as a paper document. However when you see a headline of 'Infrastructure improvements' we tend to think of new lines, platforms and stations...

Infrastructure improvements
We continually strive to improve punctuality and are pleased to report a number of recent improvements to the network by Network Rail, which will help our train running performance. These include the installation of a number of motorised ‘hook switches’ in the South London Metro area.
A hook switch allows the electricity running through a section of conductor rail to be isolated when a failed train needs to be examined, when there has been a fatality or to repair track and infrastructure. Motorised hook switches allow the isolation to be done quickly from a central location and help deal with incidents more efficiently.