Friday, 1 November 2013

November Newsletter

Greetings Transition Towners.

First off, may I invite you all to our monthly Green Drinks, held first Thursday of the month at The Oakwood Pub, High Street West, Glossop, which means the next one is next week on Thursday 7th November.

We will be joined by representatives of SPEED, the Charlesworth group that has been campaigning for 20mph speed limits. There are indications of support now from Derbyshire County Council so this is an exciting campaign. From a Transition perspective this is about more than just road safety, and could help us build communities based on people not cars. Dare I also say that as I’ve never heard a woman argue against reduced speed limits it could even be a feminist issue?

GTi is also getting back into showing films, and on 20th November at 8PM, upstairs at The Oakwood,A Convenient Truth. Al Gore does not appear, but instead we have the city of Curitiba in Brazil demonstrating sustainable solutions for cities. If we have time we will also show A Time Comes about the Greenpeace occupation of Kingsnorth Power station in 2008.
we will be showing

Then on Wednesday 27th November, 8PM at The Oakwood (where else?) the Glossopdale Time Coop is having an inter-generational quiz night. Answer questions on the last six decades and win Time Credits.

Our sister group in Transition Buxton is hosting an Alternative Economics Seminar on Saturday 9th November. If people want to go lifts may be on offer.

Finally, Glossop library is still open and not relocated, so why not go and use it. Amongst the books you will find there are the Transition Handbook and Feral by George Monbiot (or at least you will
find it once I’ve finished reading it). Both are worth a read and provide food for thought.

Meanwhile in the real world, the cost of not transitioning to alternatives to fossil fuels are coming closer to home. After mass protests against fracking for unconventional oil in Balcombe, the residents of Eccles are awaiting the imminent arrival of a rig on Barton Moss

There are alternatives. Let’s make them happen.

Sunday, 6 October 2013


Glossopdale Transition Initiative has learnt that rail companies have not been consulted on the fate of the Woodhead Tunnels.

The government recently wrote to local MPs about the fate of the old Victorian Woodhead Railway Tunnels now that the National Grid has finished transferring its high voltage cables to the newer 1953 tunnel. The letter from Simon Burns, Minister for Transport, indicated that the government did not consider it worthwhile spending the £25,000 a year it would cost to maintain the old tunnels in case they needed to be used again for cabling to allow trains through the 1953 tunnel.

Martin Porter, Transport Campaigner for GTi, contacted Arriva trains, who in 2000 submitted an unsuccessful £1.8 billion bid for the Trans-Pennine rail franchise which included plans to reopen the Woodhead Tunnel, to warn them the tunnel may soon not be available for use.

Ed Thomas, Head of Communications for their bid team replied “I’m afraid that we were not aware
of the plans for the tunnels prior to your email, although we did pick up press reports about the issue after you had got in touch.”

“I am, however, very grateful to you for bringing this matter to my attention. Representatives from Arriva have regular meetings with DfT Ministers and officials as part of the Government’s engagement with the Rail Industry, and our views are sought on future franchise specifications. I have disseminated your email throughout the Bid Team.”

Mr Thomas was not able to comment on any future plans Arriva may have as the government has not yet announced what form a future franchise to run trains across the Pennines would take.

Martin Porter said “It’s a real pity local campaign groups have not been invited to recent Route Based Strategy workshops to discuss the transport problems in the Longdendale valley, as we seem to be the only ones trying to consult all the relevant stakeholders.”

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

October Newsletter

October looks like being a quiet month for GTi, for a change.

It’s Green Drinks tomorrow night (Thursday) at the Oakwood, from 8PM, so come along if you want to meet the team the Committee.

The Time Coop still needs more people and is apparently awash with gardeners.  If anyone needs their garden tidied up for the winter, why not sign up?
You can sign up and meet a broker in person at the Glossop Volunteer Centre on Thursdays between 9AM and 1PM or at The Oakwood on Sundays between 2PM and 5PM.

The Glossop Community Group are having a get together at the Methodist Church at 7:30PM on Tuesday 15th October, in which local groups (including us hopefully) will get to speak. 

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Meanwhile on the other side of the Snake Pass, the Bamford Community Pub/Hub is a go. Having thwarted an eleventh hour attempt by the owners of the former Anglers Rest pub to sell to a developer, the old pub is now in the hands of the Bamford Community Society and will hopefully it will be opening again soon.

In the big bad world beyond the High Peak though, Greenpeace is in the middle of its biggest crisis since the French Secret Service bombed the Rainbow Warrior in 1985. 

Having been seized at gunpoint in international
waters, the international crew of the Arctic Sunrise, including the former captain of the old Warrior, are now being held by Russian authorities. Two of the crew have now been charged with piracy. Unless Greenpeace were secretly flogging bootleg DVDs off the back of the ship, this looks like a blatant attempt by the Russian state to remove opposition to Gazprom’s drilling for unnecessary oil in the pristine Arctic.


Saturday, 28 September 2013

The Last Road Protest in Britain?

Overhead fly planes from the two runways at Manchester Airport, producing seven and half thousand tons of carbon dioxide a day.

At one end the three lane motorway that is the M67 ends in the two street village in which L S Lowry was born, the resulting traffic jams made worse by the construction of a loss making Tesco superstore.

At the other end is Britain's oldest National Park, across which lorries crawl 365 days a year.

In between lie the three Woodhead tunnels. Two about to be allowed to become derelict whilst the third, one of the newest railway tunnels in Britain, has not seen a passenger train pass through in more than half its life.

Welcome to the Integrated Transport disaster that is Longdendale.

Situated between Manchester and Sheffield, Longendale has a reputation as the 'Haunted Valley' with UFO hunters often camping out in search of the Longendale Lights. Cynics would say these are just aircraft coming in to land at Manchester Airport, but I do know someone who had an encounter with a 'ghost car' near the Devil's Elbow.

However there is nothing mysterious about the traffic congestion in the valley. Every day lorries rumble through the villages of Mottram, Tintwistle and Hollingworth a few feet from people's houses and a few inches from pedestrians.

A bypass was proposed, first in the seventies and then again in the noughties when it was killed off by campaigners and the Peak Park Authority, although this didn't stop the promised Tescos being built alongside the non-existant bypass.

But, like all the best villains, the road has risen from the grave. Not a bypass this time, but a possible Peak Park Motorway

Meetings are taking place across the Northwest of England to discuss a possible new road through Longdendale and that the public are not invited to participate. Department of Transport consultations on the a Route Based Strategy will be held in Warrington on 29/09/2013, Preston on 26/09/2013, Liverpool on 1/10/2013 and Manchester on 4/10/2013. ‘Local stakeholders’, as groups like GTi  are known, are not invited.

Meanwhile, as mentioned below, the Department for Transport appears minded to let the old Woodhead railway tunnels fall into disrepair, possibly preventing the newest tunnel ever being used again for trains. It seems not even Arriva, who had previously bid to reopen the line as part of the Trans-Pennine rail franchise, were consulted.
What is striking about the DfT's letter asking for opinions on the future of the tunnels is that there is
no mention of the traffic congestion in Longdendale. As far as the DfT is concerned, cars are from Venus and trains are from Mars. They are apples and cabbages, and can never be considered together in a strategy. Only more roads can end road congestion and only more railways can end train congestion. That the two are in any way related seems to be beyond their ken.

No doubt the Route Based Strategies will suggest a Peak Park Motorway. No doubt the new planning laws will see the Public Inquiry take place somewhere a long way from Longdendale. No doubt it will be a whitewash.
But equally, no doubt the campaigners will be back, lying in front of the bulldozers if necessary. 

We probably reached Peak Conventional Oil in 2007 and possibly Peak Car in the same year. Climate Change, as the IPCC reminded us today, is the big problem for twentifirst century.We do not need a Peak Motorway.

At some point sanity will kick in and we wills top building new roads. There will, one day, be the last road protest in Britain, and maybe this will be it.

So who's in then. The Last Road Protest In Britain?

Watch this space.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Urgent Action Needed To Save Woodhead Tunnels

The Woodhead Tunnels are in danger and immediate action is required to save them.

The three tunnels, which have not seen a train run through them for thirty two years, have up until now been maintained by the National Grid who used them for high voltage cables.

With now complete on installing cables in the new 1953 tunnel the National Grid has no more use for the older tunnels. The Department of Transport will therefore decide this month on whether to purchase the tunnels in order to maintain them for future use. If the 1953 tunnel were to be reopened for trains the Victorian tunnels could again be used for electricity - unless they have fallen down.

Simon Burns MP, the Minister of State for Transport, has written to Andrew Bingham MP asking for his views by the beginning of September.

Successful campaigning by the Save The Woodhead Tunnel group extracted from the
previous government a statement that they would consider the 'option' of preserving the tunnels, but the letter from the department appears to show how hollow those words were.

All this occurs at a time when the Highways Agency is consulting on Trans-Pennine Transport solutions. With the Woodhead Tunnels gone before the consultation has even started, the proposed Trans-Pennine Motorway could have the field to itself.

Keeping the tunnel open will cost £25,000 a year. By contrast the cost of the aborted inquiry into the Longendale Bypass alone was £16 million, or £39,000 a day.

Estimates of future traffic along any Trans-Pennine Motorway are unreliable - that's why the Public Inquiry ended - as are the potential saving of a rail alternative. However English Nature estimated that the road would add 15,840 tons of CO2 a year to the atmosphere, whilst the Translink proposal for reopening the tunnel estimated it could save 100,000 tons a year.

What To Do

If you want to see the tunnels saved for possible reuse, then you need to email or write to Andrew Bingham as soon as possible. Personal letters only please, he hates mass circulation emails and cards.

Andrew Bingham
Office of Andrew Bingham MP
20 Broad Walk
SK17 6JR

My own email to Andrew Bingham (please don't copy - use your own words)

Dear Andrew

I am writing as I believe the Department of Transport is currently considering whether to purchase the Victorian Woodhead Tunnels from the National Grid in order to preserve them for future use.

I note that they are making this decision at the same time that the Department is consulting with stakeholders over proposed Trans-Pennine transport solutions, in which road building in the Longendale Valley will be on the table.

I strongly believe that with car use in this country on a plateau or declining and with oil prices showing no sign of reducing, increasing Trans-Pennine rail capacity is the solution to the traffic problems of the valley and that, along with electrifying the Hope Valley line and improvements in the Leeds-Manchester line, reopening the Woodhead line would be a way of doing this.

I am therefore very strongly of the opinion that to allow the Victorian tunnels to fall into disrepair now, when we have no solutions at all agreed upon would be the wrong decision and that the Department of Transport must take the necessary steps to preserve them. There will be a cost, but it will be utterly trivial compared to the cost of even an inquiry into a road scheme.

Like so much of what is best about Glossop, these tunnels are the legacy of the forward thinking and sound engineering of our Victorian ancestors. They should not be discarded lightly.

Yours sincerely

Martin Porter