“Luxembourg to become first country to make all public transport free”

“Luxembourg is set to become the first country in the world to make all its public transport free.

Fares on trains, trams and buses will be lifted next summer under the plans of the re-elected coalition government led by Xavier Bettel, who was sworn in for a second term as prime minister on Wednesday.

Bettel, whose Democratic party will form a government with the leftwing Socialist Workers’ party and the Greens, had vowed to prioritise the environment during the recent election campaign.

On top of the transport pledge, the new government is also considering legalising cannabis, and introducing two new public holidays.

Luxembourg City, the capital of the small Grand Duchy, suffers from some of the worst traffic congestion in the world.

It is home to about 110,000 people, but a further 400,000 commute into the city to work. A study suggested that drivers in the capital spent an average of 33 hours in traffic jams in 2016.

While the country as a whole has 600,000 inhabitants, nearly 200,000 people living in France, Belgium and Germany cross the border every day to work in Luxembourg.

Luxembourg has increasingly shown a progressive attitude to transport. This summer, the government brought in free transport for every child and young person under the age of 20. Secondary school students can use free shuttles between their institution and their home. Commuters need only pay €2 (£1.78) for up to two hours of travel, which in a country of just 999 sq miles (2,590 sq km) covers almost all journeys.

Now, from the start of 2020 all tickets will be abolished, saving on the collection of fares and the policing of ticket purchases. …”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/05/luxembourg-to-become-first-country-to-make-all-public-transport-free

“Developers to be forced to plant more trees amid fears barren developments are being constructed by builders”

Developer definition of trees – two trees which residents have to pay high maintenance charges on
Developer definition of open space – pocket handkerchief, which belongs to them but which residents have to pay for high upkeep costs

“Developers will be forced to demonstrate to planners that they are improving wildlife habitats whenever they build new homes, Michael Gove will say on Sunday.

Under plans that will go out for consultation next week, builders will be required to deliver a ‘biodiversity net gain’ when building new housing or commercial development.

This means that wildlife habitats must be enhanced and left in a measurably better state than they were before development started.

It could also see developers planting more green spaces around new developments. …”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/12/02/developers-forced-plant-trees-amid-fears-barren-developments/

Sidmouth flood defences delayed so PegasusLife can gobble up car parks and meadows to store building materials!

“A £750,000 scheme to protect hundreds of town-centre homes and businesses from flooding looks set to be delayed until the building of a controversial 113-home retirement community at Knowle is completed.

The news comes after the district council agreed with developers PegasusLife to allow the use of the lower car park and nearby flower meadow for storage space during construction. It is not yet clear on what basis the council’s car park is being used.

The use of the lower car park would mean phase two of the £759,000 Sidmouth Surface Water Improvement Scheme will have to be redrawn as the proposed lagoon feature and above ground storage area are located adjacent to the car park.

Devon county councillor Stuart Hughes said officers will meet the district council on Thursday (November 29) to discuss options at the site.

Cllr Hughes said: “After all the work that’s gone into getting the funding for the scheme, it will be delayed.

“East Devon District Council [EDDC] has agreed to the storage equipment of PegasusLife for their construction and will not allow county to use this area until after construction is complete.

“Hopefully the officers will find out at the meeting which option they prefer and whether we can achieve the level of flood improvements we desire.

“I do hope that we can find an alternative for the lagoon SUDS system so that the 300 properties and businesses in the town will be protected from future flood events.”

An EDDC spokeswoman said the authority is in discussion with the partners involved.

In January, PegasusLife won an appeal to turn EDDC’s headquarters at Knowle into a large scale 113-home retirement community after its application was rejected in December 2016.

Campaigner Ed Dolphin has slammed the use of the car park as a ‘slap in the face’ and claims it is likely to be a blow to Sidmouth’s economy as it might affect the park and walk service into town.

Mr Dolphin said: “Many people objected to the Knowle development as a blight on the green corridor as visitors entered the town. This move will bring it to the forefront, right down to the roadside.

“Even worse, it seems that the developers need even more space and so they are to be given the flower meadow next to the car park as well, the one that was mown by mistake in the summer and which EDDC promised to care for in the future. The meadow is already waterlogged for the winter and storing building materials and machinery on it will probably ruin it for years.

“I do not see why PegasusLife need this extra space, their site has three large car park areas that could be used for storage at various times in the development.”

He called the park and walk car park in Station Road a ‘valuable asset’ as it reduced the strain on the town centre, was popular in the winter and boosted the town’s independent traders.

PegasusLife has been approached for a comment.”

https://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/eddc-pegasuslife-throw-flood-scheme-at-knowle-into-question-1-5798537

CEO of Clinton Devon Estates shows how to be a gamekeeper and poacher at the same time!

It seems that, to CDE CEO Varley it’s a case of “Don’t do as we do, do as we say”:
https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/11/04/east-budleigh-rare-bats-or-bulldozers-special-council-meeting-7-november-2018/

and the fact that they are happy to cut down vegetation wilky-nilly at Blackhill Quarry to expand the engineering company!

https://eastdevonwatch.org/2018/09/06/gove-wasting-his-time-wild-woodbury-responds-to-blackhill-quarry-incursion-further-into-aonb/

When it comes to Network Rail it seems things are totally different!

“Twigged: rail chiefs behind the misery of leaves on the line”

Leaves on the line have been causing misery for rail commuters for decades. Far from Network Rail solving it, however, the problem has become worse under the public company that runs the tracks.

A government review that is published today has revealed that delays caused by falling branches and leaves on the line have increased by two thirds since the start of the decade.

Network Rail’s failure to manage vegetation by the side of the 20,000-mile network had the “potential to impact as much on safety and performance as on biodiversity”, the review concluded.

There are about six million trees on Network Rail land, typically a boundary of 10 metres either side of the line, but the review, commissioned by the Department for Transport, said they were often viewed as an “afterthought”.
In 2009-10, there were 11,500 incidents of trees and branches falling on to lines, rising to almost 19,000 in 2017-18. Last year more than 1,750 trains were cancelled by falling trees. Separate figures showed that leaves on the line, which can cause train wheels to slip, caused 3,261 hours of delays last year, a 70 per cent rise in a decade.

John Varley, the chief executive of Clinton Devon Estates who led the review, said that management of vegetation had been “under-resourced for decades”. His team found that “overstretched resource and no dedicated budget results in the maintenance of line-side vegetation being squeezed by other priorities”. Network Rail has spent £40 million a year over the past four years on vegetation management, up from £15 million, but the company still has a huge backlog.

The company’s bosses also face losing their bonuses for over-running engineering work under new plans. The Office of Rail and Road said that senior staff could be required to surrender a proportion of performance-related pay, which totalled more than £52 million last year, to fund improvements.

Network Rail said that it welcomed the review’s findings and that it would provide a plan to implement its recommendations in the next six months.”

Source: The Times (pay wall)

France reducing its dependence on nuclear energy, upping renewables …

….. while building Hinkley Cin the UK!

“… In a long-awaited speech on energy strategy, President Emmanuel Macron said France would reduce the share of nuclear in the power mix to 50 percent by 2035, down from 75 percent today, rather than the total phasing out planned by neighbour Germany.

The fate of EDF, long a symbol of French industrial might and a world leader in nuclear technology, is a politically sensitive issue in France. It has already led to the resignation of Macron’s former ecology minister, Nicolas Hulot, who accused the president of dragging his feet on nuclear power.

“I was not elected on a promise to exit nuclear power but to reduce the share of nuclear in our energy mix to 50 percent,” Macron said in an hour-long address, adding that 14 of EDF’s 58 nuclear reactors would be closed by 2035.

EDF shares fell up to 4 percent on news of the plans, which a source close to the president’s office said could involve the state increasing its stake in the company. By 1630 GMT the shares were down 0.25 percent.

Macron’s action plan is broadly in line with EDF’s desire not to close any reactors before 2029, besides the previously scheduled closure of Fessenheim’s two reactors near the German border. No further closures are planned before the end of Macron’s term in 2022

Another two will be shut down over 2027-28 and a further two could face closure as early as 2025-26 if there is no risk of jeopardising France’s power supply.

In his election campaign, Macron promised to stick to the former Socialist government’s target of reducing the share of nuclear to 50 percent by 2025. But he rowed back on the pledge a few months after taking office, angering environmentalists.”

In a long-awaited speech on energy strategy, President Emmanuel Macron said France would reduce the share of nuclear in the power mix to 50 percent by 2035, down from 75 percent today, rather than the total phasing out planned by neighbour Germany.

The fate of EDF, long a symbol of French industrial might and a world leader in nuclear technology, is a politically sensitive issue in France. It has already led to the resignation of Macron’s former ecology minister, Nicolas Hulot, who accused the president of dragging his feet on nuclear power.

“I was not elected on a promise to exit nuclear power but to reduce the share of nuclear in our energy mix to 50 percent,” Macron said in an hour-long address, adding that 14 of EDF’s 58 nuclear reactors would be closed by 2035.

EDF shares fell up to 4 percent on news of the plans, which a source close to the president’s office said could involve the state increasing its stake in the company. By 1630 GMT the shares were down 0.25 percent.

Macron’s action plan is broadly in line with EDF’s desire not to close any reactors before 2029, besides the previously scheduled closure of Fessenheim’s two reactors near the German border. No further closures are planned before the end of Macron’s term in 2022

Another two will be shut down over 2027-28 and a further two could face closure as early as 2025-26 if there is no risk of jeopardising France’s power supply.

In his election campaign, Macron promised to stick to the former Socialist government’s target of reducing the share of nuclear to 50 percent by 2025. But he rowed back on the pledge a few months after taking office, angering environmentalists.”

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-france-energy/edf-restructuring-expected-as-france-reduces-reliance-on-nuclear-idUKKCN1NW14A

Sidford Business Park: Traffic action group to reveal survey results at public meetings on 21 November 2018

Sidbury Traffic Action Group (STAG) is hosting a meeting in which the results of a traffic survey will be announced.

The survey focused on electronic speed and traffic movement and was part of ongoing concerns over drivers not sticking to the enforced speed limits.

Also at the meeting, the group will discuss the establishment of a speed watch group that will work in conjunction with the police.

There will be information about the group’s recent discussions with Devon County Council.

Finally, the group will reveal where it will go next in their pursuit for 20mph flashing signs.

The group launched a campaign in April urging people to ‘kill their speed and not villagers’.

Members of the group have concerns with cars breaking the speed limits in the town.

The meeting will take place in Sidbury Village Hall on November 21 at 2 and 7pm.”

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/sidbury-traffic-action-group-to-reveal-survey-results-at-public-meeting-1-5781477