Saturday, 18 September 2010

Barrage scheme for the Wyre back on energy agenda?

The site of a proposed barrage on the River Wyre, which is a site of Special Scientific Interest.
Photographer: Peter Wakely
for Natural England
While the expansion of nuclear energy continues to dominate the headlines when it comes to new power generation in the UK, the Coalition Government continues to investigate alternative energy sources - and proposals for small tidal barrage schemes on rivers such as the Wyre might be put back on the agenda.

Speaking in a debate about renewable energies this week, Lancaster MP Eric Ollerenshaw challenged government minister Christopher Huhne on the future of the Severn barrage scheme - which may now be dropped - and asked if it might it be time to consider smaller tidal barrage schemes such as the one on the River Wyre, which has been on the table for 20 years.

TH Technology conducted a £200,000 study into the feasibility of a tidal energy barrage over the Wyre estuary in the early 1990s, commissioned by Lancashire County Council and the Department of Energy, which contributed a grant of £133,000 towards the investigation.

Construction News reported that the objective of the nine-month study was to establish the cost and design of the tidal energy barrage as well as its possible effects on the surrounding environment.

In 2007 Garstang Today reported that TH Technology's preliminary - and only report into the barrage study, which would be built on a Special Scientific Interest site - prompted huge controversy when it was published, with many farmers on both sides of the River Wyre fearing it would upset the tidal flow of the river and lead to flood fields on the low lying farm land.

The newspaper also reported that since the initial report suggesting a barrage was published in 1992 there have been major changes in Fleetwood's dockland which could mean a re-think for the exact location of the barrage on both sides of the river.

The study estimated that the cost of the barrage, which it was estimated would have  a generating capacity of 63.6MW, would be £90 million -- at 1991 prices. It included the construction of a nine metre wide promenade across the barrage, and considered the use of the barrage as a road crossing.

Parliamnet's official journal, Hansard noted that consideration of the protection of any barrage turbines from large objects would need to form part of a more detailed design study but it was felt that a "trash" screen would provide sufficient protection. Two fish passes were included in the outline design  to provide passage for migrating fish but the report also stated further work was required to more fully assess the impact of a barrage on migrating fish.

A report by the Lancaster University Renewable Energy Group last year (PDF link) suggested such a barrage had a potential output of 90MW and was economically viable.

Responding to Eric Ollerenshaw in the Commons, Christopher Huhne said he believed that there will be an important role for tidal energy in Britain's future energy provision. "It is too early for us to make a statement about the Severn barrage," he commented, "but we will do so when we have given full consideration to the findings of the study."

Despite the comprehensive Government Spending Review, which will be published on 20th October, some renewable energy projects are continuing, including four 'clean coal' schemes, which have escaped cancellation as they were funded directly by a levy passed by the House of Commons.

While modern plans for a barrage across the Wyre seem to have again re-surfaced, they are in fact, nothing new. An early proposal for such a scheme came from Captain John May Jameson in 1872, an civil engineer to Sir Peter Hesketh Fleetwood and later to a baronet’s son.

Catherine Rothwell, author of Fleetwood: A Pictorial History notes in a letter to the press in 2007 that he proposed “an iron way between both sides of the River Wyre, at the same time providing for the passage up-river of shipping”.

Her book includes a chapter on the Jameson family based on the actual correspondence of the founder of Fleetwood and upon the Fleetwood Estate papers, now at the Lancashire Record Office which she classified and catalogued while librarian at Fleetwood Library before her retirement.

Tidal Power in the UK - Case Studies
Report on the Sustainable Development Commission web site 

Friday, 17 September 2010

"Roads Bring Jobs" Claims debunked as Chamber of Commerce pushes for Bypass again

Campaigners against the proposed M6 Link Road have savaged claims made by Lancaster's Chamber of Commerce that the Bypass would bring new jobs to the area - or stop jobs being lost.

In a seven-page justification for the Link Road (PDF link), whose funding is currently on hold pending the Government Spending Review, the Chamber of Commerce argues it would benefit lorry traffic to Heysham port, supporting development of a Heysham 3 nuclear power station (thereby offsetting future job loses through de-commissioning), bring new private sector investment to reduce the area’s dependency on the public sector, support the regeneration of Morecambe and open up of employment sites.

Separately, Lancashire County Council claims that based on Department for Transport calculations, 900 new jobs would be created by 2020 on just a few industrial sites thanks to the new road.

Responding to environmental concerns and other criticisms of the road plan, Jon Price, president of Lancaster and District Chamber of Commerce told the Lancaster Guardian last week that “as residents and employees or employers, we must be prepared to look beyond the inconveniences that arise from such developments and consider the future for our economy.”

The document provides little supporting evidence for its claims that the road would bring new jobs and campaign group Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe, which is working on affordable transport plans with other groups to combat in town congestion, has dismissed it as "speculative wishful thinking."

"The claim that a new road creates jobs or 'saves' jobs is often made, but has never been proven," notes David Gate, chair of TSLM. "The government's own advisers on these matters (the Standing Advisory Committee on Trunk Road Assessment) said that evidence of this kind is 'weak and disputed'. They refer to the 'two-way road effect', which explains that a new road could lead to a decline in jobs and economic activity as the city or region becomes more accessible to competition from other areas.

"Locally, the promoters of the High-Low Newton bypass claimed that 2,000 jobs would be created," David also points out, "but they haven’t appeared.

"At the Inquiry in 2007, claims for new jobs the Link Road would bring started out at 6,000 but, as mistakes in the calculations were revealed, were whittled down to 600," notes David Gate, chair of the TSLM. "As the County Council’s expert said: 'not worth building a road for'.

"Let’s be clear," he added. "600 new jobs would be great, but if you spend £140 million, you’d expect a lot more – nine times more, according to the government benchmark.

"The County Council's own survey for the 2007 Inquiry found that local businesses were not worried by the lack of a link road," he notes. "85 per cent had been at their current location for over 10 years, 85 per cent had no intention of moving, and only 15 per cent regarded accessibility to their premises as a problem."

Would tourism benefit from a the proposed new road? "Visitors are attracted by what’s on offer when they arrive, not by a journey that might be ten minutes quicker," David argues. "Look at all the visitors to Britain's South West, with all its tourist bottlenecks."

TSLM also points out that the Chamber of Commerce wants “the government to provide the right infrastructure.

"So they’ll take a road if it’s given to them for free, but won’t contribute to it themselves," David surmises.

"You can see why. Peel Holdings, owners of Heysham Port, also own the Port of Liverpool, where they’re planning to develop a 'SuperPort'. That would bring vastly increased capacity to North West ports, and leave Heysham dwarfed.

"Lancaster Chamber of Commerce is trying to elbow its way to the front of the queue for government handouts," David feels, "in front of schools, hospitals, community services for an old-fashioned, big-spending scheme that won’t solve congestion, the district’s biggest problem.

"The Chamber of Commerce should be aware that integrated transport plans exist which would address congestion problems at a much more realistic price, and we would encourage them to be more realistic and look to the interests of local business rather than pursue a pie in the sky political agenda."

Despite the support for the road plan from the Chamber of Commerce and both local MPs, it does look as though the County Council is giving up on the plan. Earlier this month they decided to make cuts of £22 million, including £1.3m by deferring the Heysham bypass project. These are preparatory costs (for staff and consultants) up to March 2011 but it does appear they are assuming that the scheme in unlikely to get the go ahead in the Government's Spending Review, due to be announced on 20th October.

However the Review is "defer", not "cancel" the Bypass plan, so TSLM fully intend to continue the fight against it, arguing there are cheaper and more effective alternatives.

Whether you are pro or anti the Bypass you can make your views known by:

• Writing to Norman Baker MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, Department for Transport, Great Minster House, 76 Marsham St., London, SW1 4DR.Email,

• David Morris MP (Morecambe & Lunesdale), House of Commons, London, SW1A OAA.
email, (don't expect a reply, he's obviously far too busy to talk to constituents - and his web site correspondence form doesn't work)

• Eric Ollerenshaw MP (Lancaster & Fleetwood), House of Commons, London, SW1A OAA.

Lancaster Chamber of Commerce

Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Photospot: Cormorant on the River Lune

Spotted this morning on the River Lune: a young-looking cormorant watching for fish, just by the Millennium Bridge, Lancaster. It dived into the water soon after this was taken. They don't usually fish from here.

P-p-pick up an Edwardian postcard!

The Edwardian Postcard Project at the Literacy Research Centre at Lancaster University, and the Red Rose Postcard Club of Preston are jointly holding a Postcard Fair on Saturday 13th November 2010 featuring many dealers selling postcards, an art exhibit and a programme of illustrated lectures including "The History of the Early Postcard" - what Edwardian postcards have to tell us about everyday writing at the beginning of the twentieth century - "Postcard messages in the Great War" and another talk illustrating the parallels between the Edwardian postcard and today's digital revolution.

In the heyday of the postcard during the Edwardian age (1901-1910), the cards offered an opportunity for rapid vernacular writing at very low cost that was not to be available again until the contemporary digital revolution. Up to six deliveries a day were being made in major cities and an incredible  six billion cards were sent in the period.

The Edwardian Postcard Project has collected over 1200 cards from the period to examine the creative responses of the population to this new technology. Apart from the light shed on writing practices of the Edwardians, their studies are revealing much about the travel patterns, social networks and concerns of the age.

The project is also investigating the mobilities of the postcard today, through collecting cards, interviewing and photographing at postcard fairs, and reviews of secondary sources.

Dr Julia Gillen, who is Senior Lecturer in Digital Literacies, tells us it's her hope that the archive will eventually go online. We look forward to seeing it.

• The Fair will place at the Lancaster University Management School between 9.30am - 3.30pm, entry will be £1.  Free car parking will be available.

• For more details see: 

Link to Lancaster University campus map showing the location of the venue marked in a red oval within the Management School (building number 35 on the map).

• The Red Rose Postcard Club meets on the third Wednesday of each month except December the Parish Centre of Our Lady & St. Edward Church, Marlborough Drive, Fulwood, Preston. Doors open at 7.00 p.m. Web:

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Get yourself dolled up for the Edwardian Market

After the success of last year’s event, which attracted hundreds of visitors to the city, Lancaster will once again host an Edwardian festival and market later this month.

This year's event will be held over the weekend of Saturday and Sunday 25th-26th September and promises to be fun for all the family.

Lancaster's Market traders (both indoor and outdoor) will be wearing clothes in the Edwardian style and it is hoped that members of the public will also come dressed up for the occasion, as they did last year.

“What impressed me last year was the number of members of the general public who’d taken the trouble to join in the spirit," notes Jerry North, Centre Manager for St Nicholas Arcades, "and were wearing some very authentic looking outfits."

It was indeed, great fun - so nip along, perhaps, to Lancaster's Assembly Rooms on King Street - also part of Lancaster Market - where, we're sure, vintage clothes stall holder Lynne Austin get yourself kitted out for the occasion!

Monday, 13 September 2010

The World on the Street: Urban Games from Lancaster's Global Link

Global Link and The Dukes DT3 are looking for volunteers and participants to be part of two days of games, theatricals and creative learning, engaging people in global issues and raising awareness of the UN's 2015 Millennium Development Goals.

Bustling through streets and into wide open spaces. Searching for clues and invitations to learn more. Escape unknown pursuers and find new ways to interact and share your creativity with the people around you.

For one day, forget about your routine, pastimes and usual networks and wander into the World on the Street. Encounter lives beyond your own; run, chase, perform, and let yourself be driven by a new set of goals.

The World on the Street is a performance in two parts. Part game, part street theatre, our arenas are the parks, spaces and thoroughfares of Lancaster and Morecambe. You need bring nothing but a sense of excitement and imagination.

The project takes place throughout September and includes training and information, culminating in two street games in Lancaster and Morecambe.
Lancaster - Sat 25 Sept - Game starts at 3pm from the Friends Meeting House
Morecambe - Sat 2 Oct - Game starts at 3pm from Winter Gardens.
Registration from 2.30 p.m.

Working with DT3 at the Dukes Theatre, Global Link would especially like to encourage young people who want to help organise part of the event. This could be with music, street theatre, games, role play or something completely different, it's up to you!

They also need volunteers of all ages to help out on the day or with preparation in any way they can.
If you would like to play the game or support the event, please email or call 01524 36201 for more information.

Morecambe arson attacks terrify car owners

Police are appealing for information after two cars in Morecambe were targeted in separate arson attacks just two days apart.

A brick was hurled through the window of a couple’s Melling Court home at around 4.15pm on Thursday 9th September. Later that evening, at around 9.25pm, a fire was started underneath the couple’s Citroen car, causing £2,000 worth of damage.

A second car was set alight at around 9.30pm in Aldcliffe Court, causing £500 worth of damage to a Honda Civic.

A tall, thin man, with straggly hair and a beige jacket was seen in the area shortly before the first fire broke out and police would now like to speak to him.

DI Glen Oldham, Lancaster and Morecambe CID, said: “These were both very frightening incidents for the owners of the cars, who were in their homes at the times of the attacks. The two incidents may not be connected, but did take place in close proximity to each other.”

• Anyone with information is asked to contact CID on 01524 63333.

Whale, We do Like to Be Beside the Seaside!

An electronic polar bear, inflatable whale, vintage cars and a Battle of Britain memorial flyover combined to provide a two day feast of seaside fun in Morecambe this weekend.

Organised by Lancaster City Council, the We Do Like to be Beside the Sea attracted thousands of people, offering a packed programme of traditional seaside fun and frolics that included Bjorn the polar bear, a Battle of Britain flyover, music, street dancing, Hodman and Sally the walkabout puppet act and the Bradford to Morecambe historic vehicle run.

"The festival is one of the highlights in our events programme and this year was no exception," notes Coun June Ashworth, Cabinet member with responsibility for tourism at the city council.

“It was a real family weekend packed with fun and it was great to see so many families enjoying themselves.

“I’m sure that those people who attended the festival who are not regular visitors to Morecambe will have seen what we have to offer and come back on a more regular basis.”

The festival is kindly sponsored by Southlakeland Parks which own Regent Leisure Park and Ocean Edge Leisure Park in Morecambe, The Midland Hotel and the Uniform and Leisure Company.

The Council's events organisers' focus now turns to the Fireworks Spectacular in Lancaster, which is due to launch this year on Saturday 6th November.

During the day there will be a host of city centre events including themed walks, lantern making, storytelling and street entertainment.

For the first time, Ryelands Park will act as one of the official viewing areas for the fireworks, which will be launched from the castle and priory at 8pm. The ‘party in the park’ includes a fairground, refreshments and entertainment

Other official viewing areas are Williamson Park, Giant Axe field and Salt Ayre Sports Centre.

To ensure everyone’s safety the police and city council have decided the castle and priory precinct will be closed as a viewing area and the public are asked to choose a venue in advance and allow plenty of time to attend.

• More details will be available nearer the time on the city council’s website

• Photos courtesy Lancaster City Council

Bogus police magazine scammers come 'cold calling'

A new telephone scam to fleece the unwary of their money by asking for money for a new police magazine is being used by criminals calling people in our local area.

Local police were alerted to the scam after a woman received a call at her Carnforth home on last Friday. The person on the telephone claimed to be a member of the woman’s neighbourhood policing team and asked for a donation to fund a magazine about local policing issues.

The woman was immediately suspicious and contacted police, who verified it was not a legitimate publication and they are now warning residents not to make financial donations to a bogus police magazine.

“There are many legitimate and reputable businesses selling advertising over the telephone in sponsored publications," notes crime prevention officer Jan Brown. "Unfortunately, there are also those less scrupulous, willing to take advantage of businesses wishing to support a ‘good cause’.

"Police officers or staff would never make cold calls to residents to ask for sponsorship, advertising fees or any other kind of financial donation.

“If you are contacted in such a manner by someone claiming to work for or with the police, always check it out before agreeing to take part. If you have any doubt at all, take the caller’s details and then contact the police.”

If you are approached to subscribe to sponsored crime prevention or associated publications, make sure you:

1. Ask for the full name of the person authorising the publication, their position in the organisation or in what capacity they act e.g. if it is stated that Lancashire Constabulary gives authority, ask if there is a ‘letter of authority’. If there is a letter of authority, ask to see a copy before committing yourself to the venture.

2. Ask for full details of the publishing firm:

  • If the firm operates as a ‘Sole Trader’ ask for the name of the proprietor,

  • If a partnership, the names of the partners,

  • If a limited company, the registered name, address and registered number of the company and the name and position of the person contracting on behalf of the company.

3. Check out the exact form of the publication in respect of size, materials, colour, number of pages.

4. Is the publication an event programme? If so, ask for the name, date and venue of the event.

5. Check out the number of pages of advertising to appear in the publication and the number of pages of editorial.

6. Ask who will be providing editorial material.

7. Check out how many copies of the publication the firm is authorised to produce.

8. Ask for the date when the publication will be completed and distributed and how, where and who will distribute the publication.

9. Ask what proportion of the advertising revenue will pass to the authoriser.

10. Ask if there is a ‘cooling off’ period after receipt of the invoice. Is there any provision for cancellation if you change your mind?

14-year-old girl hospitalized after traffic accident

Local police are appealing for information after a 14 –year-old girl was hospitalised following a road traffic collision.

The girl had been stood preparing her horse for a show in a yard at Rye Close Farm, off the A683 Caton Green Road, Caton, at around 4.30 pm on Saturday 11th September, when the animal bolted into the nearby road.

The horse, which the girl had tried to keep hold of, then collided with a silver Range Rover on the A683 travelling towards Lancaster. The animal fell on to the girl, causing her internal injuries.

The girl is currently being treated at Manchester Royal Infirmary, where her condition is described as stable.

The horse was badly injured and had to be destroyed at the scene.

PC Craig Irvine, road policing, said: “I would urge anyone who may have information about this incident to get in touch with us.”

• Contact police on 01524 63333 quoting log ref LC-20100911-1280.