Sunday, 13 April 2014

Road verges are important


Another quick post - preserve our road verges! Find out more and sign a petition here.

From the organisers:
"We aim to make councils and other highways authorities take better decisions when it comes to road verge management. Plantlife’s vision for our road network is to see good management for all verges, wherever possible, conserving good verges and allowing new flower-rich ones to develop over time. One estimate suggests that there might be as many as 600,000 acres of habitat along our road network, equivalent in area to the Public Forest Estate in England, or the counties of Northamptonshire or the East Riding of Yorkshire.  With good management, imagine the diversity of wild flowers and animals that such a resource could harbour. After all, road verges are the life-giving arteries across the countryside, linking habitats and acting as vital corridors allowing wildlife to thrive and spread. They also represent an ever-more irreplaceable remnant of our native grasslands in a countryside that has lost so much in our quest for cost-effective modern farming and cheap food.

Friday, 11 April 2014

The Wales We Want


We interrupt our usual programme to mention the "Wales We Want" survey, a Welsh Government initiative. Click on the image above to access it and have your say. What do you want? A more natural environment? Wildlife? More forests? Better public transport? Better cycling provision (and for it to be easier to take bikes on buses and trains)? All planning applications requiring some form of re-greening component? Towns full of independent shops, not generic chain stores and supermarkets? A greener environment generates tourism, health, wellbeing, and has intrinsic value too. Is population the issue politicians avoid mentioning, even though it aggravates every other problem we face in terms of the natural environment? So much to think about!

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Litter in Ceredigion - 3


There is an amazing coastal path across West Wales. This week we were sent photos of the section just as you leave Clarach, heading north along the path towards Borth. We followed this up by visiting the site ourselves.

Yes. Farmers really do care about the environment.

Soon you come across an agricultural field on your right, which has been turned into a tip. As well as the rubbish being an eyesore, it is just dumped loose on the edge of a cliff path where high winds prevail. Guess what happens next?

Friday, 4 April 2014

Litter in Ceredigion - 2

We said it was Ceredigion Litter Awareness Time!

There is an illegal fly tipping site by the side of the cycle path/road in the woods on the route between Glanyrafon Industrial Estate and Rhiwarthen Isaf B&B (running alongside the steam train line). Irresponsible people park in the layby and dump items down the bank.

Ceredigion County Council are well aware of this, having known of it for more than 20 years. However, they have never cleaned it up, or put up a fence to stop vans being able to tip heavy stuff like fridges down the bank, or taken any other positive action. So the problem has been worsened by Council inaction.
  • They have justified their inaction by saying they will apply for money to do something about it - but shouldn't they be acting on these issues anyway? Isn't that what Council Tax goes towards?
  • They point out it is private land. Imagine if you owned land and people used a council-maintained layby to dump things onto it, and the council told you they weren't willing to act because it wasn't public land? The point is that it was public land that caused the problem. It's like when litter is dropped on public paths, and you report it to the Council - by the time their staff visit the site (if ever) it has already blown onto the verges of the bordering land, and they claim it is no longer their responsibility because it is now on "private land". It only got there because the Council were so tardy in cleaning it up in the first place!
  • They also say it will be expensive to clear it up, claiming that they need thousands of pounds extra (£10,000 is one estimate we have seen).
It seems strange that they claim to need extra money to do this. Don't they already have employees in the council? Don't they already have equipment?

Oh, look what CIN found!

A County Council depot at Glanyrafon - fewer
than five minutes from the known fly-tipping site!
 

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Litter in Ceredigion - 1

There has been lots of talk about the increase in litter in Ceredigion recently, presumably due to the Council cutting back on litter-collecting services (and in some cases contracting workers who add to the litter problem). Even when you do report problems the Council generally does nothing if it can get away with it (e.g. here and here). So we are going to do a few posts about this topic in the next month. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, here's a reminder of how Council decisions make the litter problem worse.

A recent example of the litter left after
Ceredigion County Council cuts the grass

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Aberystwyth train station alterations

An artist's impression/a study in grey

Apparently millions of pounds is going to be spent on altering Aberystwyth train station. Information is thin on the ground about the exact details.

There are six things that would make the station, or rail transport in general, better. How many of these will be improved by all that money? We're guessing only 1-2 of them, but we would love to be proved wrong.

Our list of the things to improve the train experience (feel free to add to this):
  1. A waiting room that is warm and is not part of a cafe: when it is part of a cafe it is not clear if you are allowed to wait in it without buying things.
  2. A clean station. (Note - this does not require millions of pounds and should not depend on special one-off pots of money).
  3. Toilets that are always open and free. (The Aberystwyth train station toilets are closed around 50% of the time; Ceredigion County Council has closed a number of useful public toilets over the last ten years).
  4. Cheaper and more regular trains with simple pricing.
  5. Make it easier to take bicycles on the train with guaranteed places for them. Currently you can be refused, leaving you stranded, which puts people off using this option. (It is relevant that despite all the money spent on replacing paving stones as part of the "Aberystwyth Transport Project" there has been no improvement in connecting cycle routes to the "gateway"; secure bike storage; the ability to take bicycles on the Aberystwyth trains and buses; and so on...)
  6. Some trees and plants would be nice.
We've fixed that for you - let a visitor's first view
of Aberystwyth be a green one

Friday, 21 March 2014

Aberystwyth University - environmental credentials

Aberystwyth University plans to build a new campus on Mauritius. It's an island that has suffered environmental degradation at the hands of Europe in the past (indigenous lifeforms like the dodo were made extinct by sailors) and you can safely assume that the campus will be built on, and therefore destroy, a greenfield site. If that wasn't the case you can be assured it would have been mentioned as a positive feature in the university's press release.

This isn't a new thing. See previous posts that cover developments at Aberystwyth University. Only this July the university announced a new "Aberystwyth Innovation and Diffusion Campus" at Gogerddan, funded by biotechnology interests (you know, the nasty industries responsible for GM foods, patenting life forms, terminator crops and so on). And the construction of their massive new halls on a greenfield site continues (which wouldn't have been necessary if they hadn't knocked down and closed other halls, where students would have been nearer to their lecture locations - the new greenfield site will irresponsibly encourage car use).

Aberystwyth University building on a greenfield site


Massive scale of the barn-like halls