Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Vile Stench of Composting Over Howdenshire Villages

Many people will have noticed the vile stench that is drifting over some Howdenshire villages, and has done for a while now. It appears that a small section of the East Riding is being blighted by the cumulative impact of 'so called' composters operating in and around Holme on Spalding Moor, Spaldington, Wressle and Brind.

A number of farmers operating around this cluster of Howdenshire Villages are taking in commercial waste to turn into ‘so-called’ compost. This process is in my view dangerous in the fact that animal by-products are being brought into the area from ‘who knows where’. Since the 2001 foot and mouth epidemic, which was blamed on contaminated meat in unboiled pig-swill, and in view of recent incidences of Bird Flu, Mad Cow Disease, and again foot and mouth, this unchecked movement of animal by-products is very worrying.

The ingredients used include; salad waste, feathers, egg shells (or hatchery waste), and wood chippings which are composted in sheds to a temperature hot enough to supposedly kill off dangerous bugs. The composted materials are then stored out in the open on maturation heaps, before being spread on the land and ploughed in during the planting season. A recent planning application saw a request to increase the ingredients to include; starch products, beef burgers, fleece trimmings, pet food by-products, bakery products (including pizza), tannery scrapings, prawn shells and sewage sludge.

I feel the East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) has given planning permission for composting assuming that this is a positive step in reducing landfill - although some people are saying in reality this process is more or less the same as landfill but spread only 9" deep. I don't think the Council realised exactly what the impact on communities was going to be, with some of the vilest smells now being produced by composters, and endured by residents.

The question of inspection, regulation and enforcement of composting is very confusing to many. The approval of premises to process and handle animal by products is granted by Animal Health, an agency of DEFRA. Other aspects of the whole process are dealt with by the Environment Agency and yet further aspects are considered by the Council. This is disjointed and wholly inadequate and I think a much more united and robust policing system is required.

Meanwhile, I think we must start to make the farmers tell us more about what is supposed to happen, especially the range of material composted and particularly the geographic origin, the storage of this so-called compost, and the days of spreading - so a different regime of enforcement can be applied.

I have requested the 'regulation of the composting industry' be looked into by ERYC Environment and Transport Overview and Scrutiny Committee. This is to happen early in the New Year.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Are North Cave residents being let down by the Environment Agency?

Last night (Wednesday) I attended a meeting between the Environment Agency and residents and Parish Councillors of North Cave.

It was interesting to see the Agency's maps proudly displayed showing land levels, the route of the Beck, and the extent of recent flooding.... BUT it was more interesting observing the frustration of residents when told by the Environment Agency that only a minimum amount of work was soon to be carried out on the Beck to remove obstructions, overhanging braches and some reeds.

A feasibility study of the Beck between North Cave and the point where it runs under the M63 was then going to be sometime within the next 12 months, and the Beck then de-sludged at some time after that..... It was quite clear that residents have 'more than enough' anecdotal evidence that the Beck contains a large amount of Silt and sludge which is preventing flow, and work is required now.

Those at the meeting may have seen my reaction to the Environment Agency’s excuses and reasons for not getting on and doing the work. I feel one can make excuses for not doing something or find reasons to do something – unfortunately all we saw last night was excuses. It is totally unacceptable for the community of North Cave to live in fear of further flooding whilst the Environment Agency pontificates and procrastinates over what to do.

Eventually we did get a commitment from the Environment Agency Officer to come back to the community, with dates and a plan for moving forward. This is be be at the Village Hall at 7.30pm on 6th November 2007, I await this meeting with a degree of (hopefully not misplaced) optimism and encourage as many residents as possible to attend.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Fun Filled Morning at Bubwith Primary School

Last Tuesday I was invited by Oak Class at Bubwith Primary School to discuss the effects on the environment if the Howden weight limit had been approved. We had a really great morning and I would like to thank Miss Bailiss and Oak Class for giving me such a warm welcome and a fun filled morning. The following are some of things we discussed (I spent hours on the internet researching this!!!):

We looked at pollution from Trucks

How many lorries where on Britain’s roads in 1950? 480,000

How many cars where on Britain’s roads in 1950? 2 million

How many lorries are there on the road today? 450,000

How many cars are there on the roads today? 27 million

BUT more freight is carried by road now – Why? Lorries carried a maximum of 24 tonnes in 1950 but 44 tonnes now and are generally on the road longer.

How much CO2 do you think a lorry produces from using 1 lit of diesel? 2.63kg

How much CO2 do you think a diesel Ford Focus produces from using 1 lit of diesel? 2.63kg

Today’s 40 tonne trucks use 40% less fuel per tonne carried then 25 years ago.

It’s the km per lit that is important. A diesel Ford Focus is 5 times more economical than a 44 tonne truck BUT the truck can carry 300 times as much weight.

A truck does about 2 miles per lit whereas a Ford Focus does about 10 miles per lit.

Today’s trucks produce 80% less nitrous oxide and other nasty pollutants then 25 years ago.

Today’s large trucks have 6 axles where the large trucks of 25 years ago had 3; therefore each axle today carries 7.3 tonnes whereas 25 years ago this was 8 tonnes. Which truck would cause most damage to the road? The Older truck

One of today’s trucks carries the same as 12 x 7.5 tonne trucks – so would it be better to have one large truck or 12 smaller trucks?

And finally….. 20 of today’s modern trucks makes the same amount of noise as one truck of 25 years ago……

So if the proposed weight limit were to prevent HGVs from travelling through Howden’s Flatgate, which instead had to travel, an extra 16 miles to reach their destination how much extra fuel would be used? Answer - 8 lit of diesel, which equates to 21.04kg of CO2. So if this was to apply to 100 truck movements in a day that would be 800 lits or 2.104 tonnes of CO2 PER DAY.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Network Rail Cleans key dyke in Gilberdyke for first time in 30 years

Network Rail have this week proceeded dig out the key dyke at the side of the railway, this will at least allow surface water to drain out of the West side of Gilberdyke to the main Lower Ouse Drainage Internal Board dyke down to Blacktoft. I am led to believe this is the first time in 30 years that this dyke has been cleared.

The Gilberdyke Flood Action Group is to hand deliver a specific flooding questionnaire to every Gilberdyke household over the next week, in order to determine the true extent of the flooding as well as inviting residents to put forward their experiences, thoughts and suggestions. This information will then be collated and used as evidence to support the MTP application, provide feedback to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s flood working group, and determine what can be done to actually remove the water from the village during times of heavy rainfall. The completed forms can be dropped off in boxes provided at the supermarket in Gilberdyke as well as the Post Office.

The Group is also requesting if anyone in the village could provide any old maps, plans or photographs showing the original dykes or water courses. Also for long standing residents to come forward if they have local knowledge of these original dykes or water courses. This will enable a forward plan to be created with a view to reopening dykes and watercourses as required to solve future flooding problems.

The Flood Action Group should be given the credit for what they have achieved so far, working with the LOIDB and other groups and organisations to get things moving. The tasks ahead include research and the identification of original dykes in the village that have been potted and filled or just filled in, acknowledgment of ownership, and the funding for getting these dykes reopened and/or re-potted as required.

Date of next meeting: Wednesday 10th October 7.30pm in the Common Room, Scalby Lane, Gilberdyke

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Tidal Power Breakthrough deserves support

The Proteus NP500 Tidal Power Pontoon (artists impression shown above) has achieved an efficiency that is greater than any other tidal power device. Manufacturing costs of the device are minimal, which means that for the first time ever, tidal electricity can be generated at commercially competitive prices.

Experts at the University of Hull have achieved a tidal power breakthrough that could revolutionise renewable energy generation, and is something I wholeheartedly welcome.

The East Riding, with its long length of coastline and tidal rivers could, and perhaps should be at the pioneering edge of tidal power development and this is why I fully support this work being done on Tidal Power by Hull University, but ultimately this concept will need support of Central Government.

Broadly speaking I welcomed the decision by ERYC to sign up to the Nottingham Declaration some months ago. By signing the declaration it showed the Council accepting that climate change is occurring now, and its effects will be far reaching.

The signing of the Declaration may be the first step in the ERYC developing a holistic energy policy, which must include both energy generation and energy conservation as they are now accepted as being inextricably linked. This policy could be innovative and forward looking, and may well ultimately have the consent of the masses.

The declaration includes a commitment to reduce emissions in line with Government targets, to help local residents and businesses reduce energy costs, and encourage all sectors in the local community to take the opportunity to assess, and adapt to reduce their own greenhouse gases.

It is important that there are incentives to actually save energy and as a council we must continue to do this through encouraging energy savings in buildings both new and old, as well as educating people in the simple measures that can save power, such as reducing the amount of appliances left on standby mode and the use of low energy light bulbs.

The issue of renewable energy is about more than just Wind Energy, and that larger picture is what the ERYC signed up to with the Nottingham Declaration. Wind Energy is not a problem free solution and care should be taken in the siting of windfarms, the general opinion seems to be “site wind turbines where the wind is consistent and where the impact on communities is minimal, with offshore windfarms being the favoured option”. There are those who would like to see the county blighted with windfarm after windfarm, whatever the prevailing conditions and the effect on neighbouring communities, all I would say is that there has to be a balance between the benefits and the detrimental impact on the countryside.

For more information on the Hull University Project and/or the Nottingham Declaration visit:

Monday, September 03, 2007

£1.4million Application Submitted for Gilberdyke, Blacktoft, Laxton & Eastrington flood prevention scheme

An application has been submitted to the Environment Agency by the Lower Ouse Internal Drainage Board (LOIDB) for two separate schemes worth some £1.4million to relieve the future potential flooding for households and businesses in the villages of Gilberdyke, Blacktoft, Eastrington and Laxton.

The schemes are part of a ‘Medium Term Plan’ and are to include broadening and deepening of existing dykes, and the installation of new pumping facilities at Blacktoft and Laxton to lift the water into the river during times of flooding.

The timing of the application was crucial as the deadline was very tight. I would like to thank Local consultants AF Consulting of Newport, the LOIDB officers, and clerk Eddie Allen and his staff.... We all worked together to ensure the August 31st deadline was met.

Credit should also be given to Gilberdyke’s recently formed Flood Action Group who organised the community into sending many letters, as well as residents from other villages who also sent letters and messages to the LOIDB demanding that action be taken.

A decision on the application is expected by Christmas, when the LOIDB will know if the money has been made available from Central Government, this money will be then ring fenced for the project and hopefully specific design work can start in early 2008.

This is a positive step for residents of Gilberdyke, Blacktoft, Eastrington and Laxton, and if approved by Central Government will offer a permanent solution to removing floodwater rapidly from these communities. The effect on Gilberdyke should be to reduce the level of the water table, allowing rainfall without flooding, but this is only part of the solution and there will still be much to do in order to re-open or re-pot dykes filled in by developers and householders.

The next meeting of the Gilberdyke Flood Action Group is to be held at 7.30pm on 12th Sept 2007 at the Common Room, Scalby Lane, Gilberdyke.

"I offer my full support to this application, it is vital that the Environment Agency approves these schemes in order to prevent a repeat of the tragic flooding seen recently across the East Riding" David Davis MP