Monday, 19 December 2016

Merry Christmas



After those terrible HGV scenes in Ottery's fictional matters, another shocking revelation: this time on groundwater and the plan to quarry right down to the water table.

It has been brought to our attention that so-called seasonal working - the sort of scheme Aggregate Industries intends at Straitgate Farm, where giant excavators tear right down to the water table - has been tried before... with devastating results:


Apparently, the winter water table rebound caught this digger driver completely by surprise:
I was lucky to get out alive! Long-winded reports had been written - but no-one warned about this; the water came up so fast, all I could rescue was my lunch box.
Consultants had talked about 'ephemeral ponds of water', but they obviously didn't have a bloody clue. They didn't even know where the maximum water table was. How could they? They'd only recently put piezometers in the centre of the site!
If you ask me, it was amazing this place was in the Minerals Plan at all. People had been warning about the water for years, but no-one took any notice - not the council, not the company, not even the local airport. And look what we've got now - a f***ing lake. The birds will love it, but it was meant to go back to farmland. 
It's tragic; that was my best loader, I loved that machine.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all readers!



Friday, 16 December 2016

LafargeHolcim CEO to chair Cement Sustainability Initiative in 2017

'As one of the largest global sustainability programmes ever undertaken by a single industry sector, we have a real opportunity to drive change. Our plans are ambitious and we are conscious that we will only achieve them by working together.'
In 2017, the members of the CSI agreed to concentrate their efforts on the most material topics, among others: ... actions to further reduce CO2 emissions...


And Eric Olsen may have a real opportunity to drive change, but many will see this as no more than rearranging the deckchairs, a public relations façade, greenwash - because only last month there were reports of the Cement sector obstructing climate policy for windfall profits and of being second only to the oil and gas sector in lobbying against EU climate change policy. More specifically, that LafargeHolcim has "consistently sought to undermine the ETS and other EU climate policy".

But hey, who knows, maybe as chair of a sustainability initiative he now wants to make a difference. So perhaps people should write to eric.olsen@lafargeholcim.com and tell him just how unsustainable his company is planning to be in Devon. Copy his respective heads of sustainability in for good measure: bernard.mathieu@lafargeholcim.com and donna.hunt@aggregate.com, and any of the UK executive committee.

After all, and as UK construction industry leaders discussed last month regarding the benefits of reducing carbon emissions issues at the 'Climate Change Challenge seminar':
And that's language that even business people can understand.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

‘Environmental sustainability is a requirement, not an option’

That's what 13 of the world's leading economists concluded in the Stockholm Statement last month.
...climate change is a long-term threat to the viability of the planet and, equally, a short to medium term threat to livelihoods, agriculture and habitat in many countries.
But try telling that to the company that's about to launch an application for a wholly unsustainable 2.5 million CO2-polluting HGV miles in Devon - despite the evermore dramatic evidence:


AI's planning application delayed

At the recent Public Exhibition, Aggregate Industries was confident that it would be submitting a planning application for Straitgate Farm 'around the middle of December'. 

Today, however, AI confirmed that no application would be ready for submission before the New Year.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Hillhead truck numbers ‘don’t stack up’

There’s more trouble for Aggregate Industries' Hillhead ROMP application. After the Environment Agency objected last month, this week DCC Highways said that the truck numbers don’t stack up.

It’s all a bit embarrassing for AI really. Truck movements are a major part of any quarry operation. AI tasked a consultant to produce a Transport Statement for the ROMP application. This is the level of detail on truck movements from future quarrying:



What’s more, it looks as though the numbers were plucked out of thin air.

Remember, this report is to back an application which, although in September 2014 was looking for an extension to 2033, is now looking for an extension to 2042; some 25 years.

But at least someone at DCC has picked up on this.
I have looked through the Transport statement, previous application and would confirm that a breakdown of the 82 arrivals and departures is required to identify how they got to that figure with the amount of material available over the time frame
Because there are some 4.23 million tonnes at Houndaller. Twenty five years' worth of truck movements at 82 loads a day would equate to some 14.6 million tonnes, so plainly something’s not right.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

‘We all need to talk about climate change’

Not everyone has the luxury of ignoring climate change. People are already feeling it as droughts, wildfires and floods become more common. As temperatures creep ever higher, it’ll hit more and more of us, more and more obviously. Knock-on effects mean that, along with battling fire, water and mud, food will become more scarce. If you don’t spot climate change in the rising tides, you may well feel it in your stomach. This is already happening. Arguably, the way climate change affected crops was a contributing factor in the Arab spring.
We can choose to see climate change, and we can choose to do this before it’s too late. So how can we escape the quagmire of denial? As it turns out, the first step isn’t that hard: just talk about it. To your friends, family, colleagues – even to yourself. By talking about climate change, you’ll make it feel less scary. By talking about it, we’ll unlock solutions. And, crucially, it’s by talking about climate change that we’ll break the silence that allows it to go unnoticed and ignored.
So let's talk about it, Aggregate Industries. Let's talk about how your 2.5 million mile haulage plan for Devon is going to help fight climate change. Let's talk about why your CO2 emissions are not coming down. Because not everyone has the luxury of ignoring climate change. 

AI's haulage plans for Straitgate would generate around 4,000 tonnes of CO2 alone; before extraction, before processing, before the additional mileage incurred to transport materials to their end market - as its previous application stated:


Let's see what one tonne of CO2 looks like:


It has about the same volume as five double decker buses. So if 4,000 tonnes of CO2 doesn't sound that much, think of it as about 20,000 double decker buses; about 140 miles lined up bumper-to-bumper.

Could AI make its haulage plans CO2 neutral? It could if it had the land to plant 103,665 trees.

But what about all AI's sustainability claims:


Claims such as this for 2015:


As with many of AI's claims, this can't be taken at face value either. Because the majority of those 400,000 lorry movements are accounted for by Glensanda - one of Europe's largest quarries.


And the thing with this quarry is that "There is no land access to Glensanda. Workforce, equipment and stores come and go by sea".

So don't think that AI has suddenly gone all green and removed 400,000 trucks from our roads. It hasn't. It had no choice.

AI's haulage plan for Straitgate, on the other hand, equates to 52,632 loads or 105,264 truck movements. To put that into context again, CEMEX recently announced that it had hit the 2 millionth tonne of material transported by rail, "equivalent to 65,000 truck movements taken off our congested road network".

‘Cement sector obstructing climate policy for windfall profits’

That's the conclusion of European Cement and Climate, a new report by InfluenceMap an "independent UK-based non-profit whose remit is to map, analyse and score the extent to which corporations are influencing climate change policy".


One of those giants is LafargeHolcim, owner of Aggregate Industries, owner of Straitgate Farm, owner of the plan to put 2.5 million HGV miles on Devon roads, owner of limitless greenwash:


InfluenceMap's report says:
Market leader LafargeHolcim, a signatory of a commitment to a UN guide on responsible climate policy engagement, has made public statements supporting carbon pricing but has opposed ambitious EU ETS reform. It also holds many key positions in trade associations that have consistently sought to undermine the ETS and other EU climate policy.
InfluenceMap’s executive director Dylan Tanner said:
It is not surprising the cement sector is choosing to weaken the climate policies that pose an existential threat to its existence. However, they end up undermining the ambition of the whole regulatory process and we think investors should be concerned about the correlation between negative lobbying and companies’ unwillingness to transition.
Cement production accounts for about 5-10% of human CO2 emissions.
...evidence suggests that even with a low price on carbon effectively implemented the profits of the sector would collapse. The sector appears to have responded to this threat by shaping the EU ETS to suit its existing GHG intensive industrial practices through intense policy lobbying in Brussels.
And whilst there's intense policy lobbying in Brussels, this is what LafargeHolcim tells the wider world:


The reality in the UK, as we have posted before, is somewhat different. And whilst AI continues to think that it's acceptable to haul sand and gravel over 23 miles away for processing, nothing will change.

* Figures taken from 2015 report, 2012 report (for 2012-2008), 2010 report (for 2007-2006), 2007 report (for earlier)


Aggregate Industries would have us believe that:


But as InfluenceMap reports - behind the scenes, behind the cement industries' flimsy green façade:

Friday, 2 December 2016

Truck numbers - Don’t believe everything you are told

As we said below, working through Aggregate Industries' forthcoming planning application will be about separating fact from fiction. However, it looks like the misinformation has already started.

AI's leaflet told us that:
It is proposed to extract around 1.5 million tonnes of ‘as-dug’ sand and gravel over a period of about 10 to 12 years...
The material would be extracted at a rate between 120,000 tonnes and 180,000 tonnes per annum on a campaign basis which means that extraction would be limited typically to 2 or 3 times per year with each campaign lasting between five and seven weeks at a time.
People came away from the exhibition having been told that AI is planning 86 HGV movements a day (43 out 43 back).



Today's Ottery Herald:


reported that the proposal would "see up to 86 lorries a day using one of Ottery’s busiest roads" or "a ‘maximum’ of 86 deliveries a day during a campaign that would take place between March and November"; 86 deliveries would be 172 movements.

So, let's look at the numbers more closely:

Each truck employed would manage no more than 6 return trips per day, if each return trip took say 1.5 hours; 42 loads a day would therefore need 7 trucks; 84 movements over a 10 hour day would be one every 7 minutes. However, to clear the 1.5 million tonnes, 42 loads a day would require the absolute maximum duration that AI has proposed, i.e.:

28.5 tonnes per load × 42 loads a day × 5 days per week × 7 weeks per campaign × 3 campaigns per year × 12 years = 1.5 million tonnes

In other words, AI's '86 movements per day' would be at the minimum rate of extraction.

Conversely, the maximum rate of extraction would be over the minimum duration AI has proposed, i.e.:

1.5 million tones ÷ (28.5 tonnes per load × 5 days per week × 5 weeks per campaign × 2 campaigns per year × 10 years) = 105 loads per day

At the maximum rate of extraction there would therefore be 210 movements a day. This would require 18 trucks; 210 movements over a 10 hour day would be one every 3 minutes.

Say we look at something in between: 150,000 tonnes per year, extracted over 16 weeks, would need:

150,000 tonnes ÷ (28.5 tonnes per load × 6 loads per day × 5 days per week × 16 weeks) = 11 trucks

11 trucks would generate 11 × 6 × 2 = 132 movements per day, or one movement every 4.5 minutes.

Obviously, AI doesn’t yet know at what rate the material would need to be extracted. What is clear is that local people at the exhibition have already been misled by only being told the lowest number of movements per day that could be expected.

If the proposal for Straitgate Farm is so brilliant, so "strategically important and sustainable", why can’t AI have the decency to be straight with people?

Let's put AI's proposal in context:
Tarmac’s Aberthaw Cement Plant has opened a rail facility that will remove some 2,500 road truck movements each year as the company delivers on its pledge to support the sustainable delivery of materials and cut transport CO2
AI's plans for Straitgate, on the other hand, would result in:

1.5 million tones ÷ 28.5 tonnes per load = 52,632 loads × 2 = 105,264 movements ÷ 10-12 years = 8,772-10,526 movements per year

AI should be ashamed.

European Protected Species - Don't believe everything you read

For anyone minded to wade through Aggregate Industries' forthcoming planning application, it will be all about separating fact from fiction. For example, remember all that hoo-ha about AI not being able to process Straitgate material at Rockbeare?
It has been demonstrated that processing at Rockbeare is not physically possible due to a lack of silt space and clean water storage, insufficient stocking and processing area and the presence of great crested newts in existing ponds. 8.37
Most of those arguments didn’t stand up to scrutiny, but what about the newts?


AI’s ecologist had said:
It is the opinion of JG Ecological Surveys Ltd that alternative opportunities to achieve the operational objectives for the company while avoiding disturbance to the local populations of GCN at Rockbeare Quarry should be sought.
We wrote a bit about the subject in You couldn’t make this up! Likewise, Natural England also saw through AI’s ruse:
The presence of Great Crested Newts at Rockbeare Quarry is cited as a constraint to the consideration of using Rockbeare Quarry as an alternative location for the processing of quarry materials from Straitgate Farm. Natural England advises that the potential exists for this to be addressed through European Protected Species licencing and that this avenue could be explored through consultation with our licensing team.
But if "processing at Rockbeare is not physically possible due to… the presence of great crested newts", why was Midland Quarry Products granted a licence to relocate great crested newts to allow quarry expansion? Or does AI only care about wildlife when its suits them?

Dormice are also a European Protected Species, but of course AI doesn't say quarrying at Straitgate is not physically possible due to... the presence of dormice.

So it will be interesting to learn in AI's new application how dormice in Straitgate's ancient hedgerows would be protected; interesting to learn how many kilometres of hedgerow would be destroyed; interesting to learn how much mitigation planting would still need to be done; interesting to learn how much habitat connectivity would be lost.

"At LafargeHolcim, we want to lead in sustainability and set new standards"

Once upon a time there was a Big Polluting Cement Giant.

It realised it needed to do something about the millions of people across the world who were suffering from the effects of climate change, from crop failures, from extreme weather, from rising sea levels. 

The Big Polluting Cement Giant was, after all, one of the largest CO2-emitting giants in the world.

It decided to make itself look greener. It prepared a leaflet for the Paris climate talks:
An ambitious international agreement on climate change is key to limiting global warming to below 2 degrees. We need action, now.


At another climate conference in Switzerland, its leader announced:


The Big Polluting Cement Giant even went to the Marrakech climate talks:
As a world leader and advocate of the decarbonization of the construction value chain, LafargeHolcim welcomed the COP 21 Paris Agreement. We have since elaborated a set of commitments to cut our net CO2 emissions and reduce our dependency on natural resources. 
Our presence at the COP 22 conference will be an opportunity to showcase how the Group is contributing to the global climate and circular agenda...
And it produced a Plan:
Since the Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015, LafargeHolcim has rolled out an ambitious sustainability strategy: the 2030 Plan. With this plan, we are turning our core value of sustainability into a set of actionable goals. One of its four pillars focuses on climate.
But it was obvious to the little people - the little people who can see what the Big Polluting Cement Giant wants to do in Devon - that phrases like "ambitious sustainability strategy" and "we want to lead in sustainability and set new standards" and "We need action, now" were no more than words.

And what use are words, when other, not so little, people warn that climate change is set to cause a refugee crisis of "unimaginable scale"What use are words, when the impacts of releasing CO2 into the atmosphere "will last longer than Stonehenge"?