Sunday, October 20, 2013

Energising Redbridge Councillors

We will excuse Redbridge Council for wasting the natural resource (Methane Gas, see previous post) that emanates from our land fill sites as most of them were closed some time ago when energy prices were relatively cheap, due to North Sea Gas and Oil, and we didn’t have Global Warming or Climate Change to worry about.

However, that was then and this is now. A week or two ago on 9th October we went along to the Redbridge Council Evironment Service committee. This is a new committee, along with other service committees, that have been brought in to replace scrutiny committees as part of the new governance arrangements. Unfortunately the Public Transport Liaison Group and the Cycling Liaison Group were overlooked as part of these new arrangements but it was resolved to re-introduce them. No such luck for the Sustainability Forum, which is no longer supported by the council, but then it was very rare that any councillor took any interest or attended. Had they done so, I suspect the debate and questions on 9th October would have been quite different and a lot more informed.

None more so than on the agenda item about the council’s Carbon Reduction Programme. The issue here is not just about carbon and climate, it’s also about costs and budget savings. Energy prices are rising fast and in order to save expenditure in the future we need to invest now – invest to save. And to be fair there was some support (from unexpected sources) for the council taking advantage of various schemes for renewable and clean energy production such as solar panels, particulalrly in its new build schools, but there was some opposition, mainly from Cllr Paul Canal (deputising for Cllr Mrs Huggett), over whether the council could afford or commit to the expenditure required up to 2030. So the 40% target is now an "aspiration" only despite a solid rearguard action from Cllr Jim O'Shea.

However, it appeared that councillors were not aware that our recently built new schools (if 2007 can be described as recent) have been fitted with solar panels and rainwater harvesting and that some existing schools have been retro-fitted with energy saving features. I am also assured by the cabinet member for Education, Cllr Alan Weinberg, that the new schools in the pipline are all being built with energy efficiency, renewables and sustainability in mind. Perhaps Cllr Robert Cole might like to talk to his ward colleague from time to time?

It was also apparent that councillors were unaware of the energy that has been saved by Redbridge council over recent years insisting that they wanted to see the number of £s saved. That’s not the point – you don’t measure spend you measure energy used – because the unit price and the baseline changes. I have reduced my home energy consumption by about a third but my bills continue to rise, but not nearly by as much as they otherwise would have done. And if I had doubled the size of my home like Redbridge Council is doubling the size of some schools then it would be hardly surprising if bills go up. These numbers have to be viewed in context.

Other actions, but by no means the only ones, were to use Nitrogen to pump up the tyres of the council vehicle fleet and also those of Shanks refuse lorries. This saves fuel and prolongs the life of the tyres, see here. And at about the same time the refuse collection rounds were re-planned to optimise mileage.

Meanwhile here’s some more reading to counteract your daily dose of the DfM.

For those DfM readers who argue that Wind Turbines are ruining our countryside, but don’t seem to notice electricity pylons, this is, apparently, what Fracking looks like.

There is a campaign by Friends of the Earth here in Redbridge to make us a Frack Free Zone.

And here is a deconstruction of the myth perpetuated by the Mordoc Media that green energy is expensive and adds 41% to your bills. There are lies, damn lies and the press.

And although not strictly a piece on energy here’s Professor Molly Scott-Cato on the austerity myth which we dedicate to Cllr Paul Canal.


  1. Pleased to report that Cabinet adopted the target and disregarded Cllr Canal's poorly disguised attempt to water it down...

    1. When you make such a snide comment why do you not have the guts to identify yourself?

  2. There are two or three Dedbridge councillors who need energising - they've lain dormant for years.