“England’s seaside towns where young people might disappear”

Does our Local Enterprise Partnership – which could but does not invest in coastal regeneration – care? Not one jot.

“Analysis by BBC News of population projections has found seaside towns in northern England could see the biggest decline in under-30s.

The Parliamentary Group for Coastal Communities said funding cuts meant seaside towns were “being left behind”.

The government said it had invested more than £200m in coastal communities.
The coastline in England is home to some of the most beautiful but also poorest places in England. …

BBC News has analysed the population projections made by the ONS for 75 local authorities in England with a coastline.

More than half of the local authorities could see a fall in the number of residents under the age of 30 by the year 2039.

The biggest decline in the number of under-30s could be in the north of England, where every local authority with a coastline, except Liverpool, might see a fall in the number of young people.

Collectively northern seaside communities might see a reduction of 200,000 under-30s over the next two decades.

In contrast, coastal authorities in the south, such as Bristol (+13%), Canterbury (+6.4%) and Southampton (+4.7%) could see substantial rises in the number of young people …”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-48995925

Hinkley C may kill 250,000 fish per DAY

“It has been described as a giant plughole under the sea, sucking in 130,000 litres of water a second along with vast numbers of fish.

The twin inlet tunnels stretching two miles out into the Severn estuary are so big that a double-decker bus could drive through them. The system will cool a new nuclear power station being built at Hinkley Point in Somerset but conservation groups say it will kill up to 250,000 fish a day and must be altered or scrapped.

They say that EDF, the French state-owned energy group, has grossly underestimated the system’s impact on marine life in the estuary, a special conservation area.

A 5mm mesh will be installed to prevent larger fish being swallowed but the groups, including the Blue Marine Foundation, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and Somerset Wildlife Trust, say many fish will be fatally injured when pressed against it. Small fish, eels and the fry of many species, such as salmon, whiting and cod, will be sucked through the mesh and into the cooling system. The groups say it could damage the population of twaite shad in the UK, a small herring-like fish that used to spawn in the estuary by the millions but has dwindled to tens of thousands.

EDF says the system will kill about 650,000 fish a year. It has asked to vary its original permits and planning permission for the power station to allow it to remove an “acoustic fish deterrent” from the cooling system. It argues that, even without it, the impact of the system on fish populations will still be “negligible”. EDF says fish will be adequately protected by other measures, one which will slow the water entering the system and another which will return to the sea the fish sucked in.

Conservation groups argue that scientific analysis they obtained of the cooling system shows far greater harm to marine life. This analysis is partly based on measurements of fish swallowed by the cooling system of Hinkley Point B, a nearby nuclear power station which consumes a quarter of the sea water that will be extracted to cool Hinkley C. They want the government to reject EDF’s application and, if the company cannot mitigate the damage, force it to use other ways to cool the station, such as cooling towers or ponds.

James Robinson, of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, said: “The authorities must decide if it’s worth building a giant plughole to suck millions of sea animals to their deaths, in one of our most important protected marine areas, in order to produce electricity.”

Charles Clover, director of Blue Marine Foundation, said the groups would also challenge plans by EDF for a similar system at its proposed new nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk.

Michele Bowe, Somerset Wildlife Trust director of conservation, said: “It is of grave concern that EDF is seeking to cancel one third of the measures originally imposed to protect fish numbers when construction work of the tunnel systems is well under way.”

Chris Fayers, head of environment at Hinkley Point C, said: “Studies have shown the power station would have a negligible impact on local fish stocks with the proposed fish protection measures in place. These are a fish return system and water intakes specially designed to slow the water coming into the cooling pipes. Hinkley Point C will be the first power station in the Bristol Channel with fish protection measures.”

Source: Times (pay wall)

“Heatwaves test limits of nuclear power”

Not true, as the article implies, that because Hinkley C uses seawater, which is cooler, it is not at risk. There are many examples of coastal nuclear reactors having to close down because seawater has become too warm in heatwaves – including in places such as Finland, Sweden and Germany. Here’s the evidence:

https://www.npr.org/2018/07/27/632988813/hot-weather-spells-trouble-for-nuclear-power-plants?t=1562937536321

“Enthusiasts describe nuclear power as an essential tool to combat the climate emergency because, unlike renewables, it is a reliable source of base load power.

This is a spurious claim because power stations are uniquely vulnerable to global heating. They need large quantities of cooling water to function, however the increasing number of heatwaves are threatening this supply.

The French energy company EDF is curbing its output from four reactors in Bugey, on the Rhône River near the Swiss border, because the water is too warm and the flow is low.

Some reactors in the US are also frequently affected. This matters in both countries because the increasing use of air conditioning means electricity demand is high during summer heatwaves and intermittent nuclear power is not much help.

This does not affect nuclear power stations in the UK because they draw their water supplies from the sea, which stays relatively cool. However, it may affect plans to build small reactors on a lake in Trawsfynydd, Wales. And it may also reduce some of the UK’s power supplies during the summer.

As heatwaves intensify, the flow of electricity from French reactors through the growing number of cross-Channel interconnector cables cannot be relied on.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/08/weatherwatch-heatwaves-nuclear-power?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Regional imbalances to be examined by MPs

Bet our Local Enterprise Partnership has some “bigly beautiful” figures to support much more housing – fuelled by nuclear energy probably (bacause, as their hero Trump says – wind turbines cause cancer!).

“A parliamentary inquiry has been launched to examine the impact of regional imbalances in the UK economy.

The treasury committee is to examine the nature and impact of regional imbalances in economic growth across the country and the extent to which these explain poor productivity growth across the UK.

It will establish what regional data is currently available in the UK, how it could be used more effectively in policy development, and whether official regional economic forecasts should be produced.

MPs will seek to learn lessons from other countries on the use of regional economic data and forecasts, and understand how devolution has changed the need for regional data.

The effectiveness of regional bodies, such as combined authorities, in promoting growth will also be considered, as well as the extent to which the devolution of funding can help reduce regional disparities.

Treasury committee chair Nicky Morgan said that disparities between the areas represented by committee members had become “abundantly clear” in her time as chair.

“Whether it be a divide between north and south, towns and cities, or urban and rural, people experience the chasm which exists between various parts of the UK through their day to day lives,” said Ms Morgan.

That included differences not just in economic growth and income, but also in health and educational outcomes and the quality of infrastructure, she said.

“As part of this inquiry, we’ll examine why this is the case, what the effects are in terms of imbalances, such as wages and employment, and how successful regional programmes have been in promoting regional economic growth.

“The treasury committee will seek to identify the disparities and explore how better data can inform policy makers on how best to level the playing field.”

Committee member Alison McGovern said the inquiry would help build an accurate picture of how the economy affected people in different parts of the UK.

“We must understand how regional economic performance shapes people’s lives and their perceptions of where they live and work,” she said.

“It is not sufficient for the government to only offer figures on economic success in aggregate terms. I hope this inquiry can show how the government can get a full picture of the whole of the UK economy in the future.”

Written evidence will be accepted on the treasury committee website until 2 August.”

https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2019/06/mps-investigate-economic-disparities-uk

Is our Local Enterprise Partnership attempting to hi-jack housing and infrastructure funding and control?

Yet another attempt by this unelected bunch of conflicted business people to suck up funding meant for local councils:

“…
Recommendations
2.1. 1.
That the Joint Committee pursue an area-based package to accelerate housing delivery which, at headline level, should include:

a. Resourcing of a strategic delivery team (capacity funding)
b. A major infrastructure delivery fund to unlock growth
c. A small schemes liquidity fund to bring forward stalled sites

2. That the proposed package as set out in appendix 1 is agreed as an
appropriate package to accelerate housing delivery across the HotSW
geography.

3. That the proposed package as set out in appendix 1 is used by officers as
the basis for future engagement with central government and its agencies in seeking to secure a bespoke deal for the HotSW area to structurally embed collaboration with central government on housing delivery.

4. That the Task Force seeks to now engage with senior figures within both Homes England and the MHCLG Growth and Delivery Unit to understand their appetite for driving growth and willingness to work with the Joint Committee on some kind of housing deal.

5. That the Task Force brings back any updates or progress to the Joint Committee to consider in due course.”

https://democracy.devon.gov.uk/documents/s26163/HotSW%20JC%20-%20Housing%20Task%20Force%20report.pdf

The appendix on pages 5 and 6 is particularly worrying.

And where does this leave the (stalled due to political changes) Greater Exeter Strategic Plan?

Why is the south-west (particularly our LEPs and press) backwards at coming forward on our behalf?

We are reading an awful lot in the press about how the north of England is being discriminated against compared to the south-east and London.

For example:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/jun/10/northern-newspapers-demand-revolution-in-regions-treatment?

Why does our local press and LEPs in the West Country appear to lack the ambition and drive to do something equally bold for our region?

Aren’t we in danger of being left behind (again). Owl thought LEPs were supposed to be leading us somewhere …not just spending our money on vanity projects.

“Nuclear: Energy bills ‘used to subsidise submarines’ “

Not just energy bills in Devon … a large tranche of our money is being used to subsidise Hinkley C via our Local Enterprise Partnership.

“Energy bills in the UK are inflated partly because households are subsidising nuclear submarines, MPs have been told.

Experts think one government motive for backing civilian nuclear power is to cross-subsidise the defence industry.

They say nuclear power is so expensive that it should be scrapped in favour of much cheaper renewable energy.

Others argue that nuclear still plays a key role in keeping on the lights, so the military aspect is not significant.

But in evidence to MPs on the Business Select Committee, researchers from the University of Sussex said the government should be frank about the inter-dependence of the civilian nuclear programme and the nuclear defence industry.

Supply chain

Prof Andy Stirling from Sussex argues that one reason the government is willing to burden householders with the expense of nuclear energy is because it underpins the supply chain and skills base for firms such as Rolls Royce and Babcock that work on nuclear submarines.

He said: “It is clear that the costs of maintaining nuclear submarine capabilities are insupportable without parallel consumer-funded civil nuclear infrastructures. …

The government has declined to comment on the research, but a committee source told BBC News the researchers’ evidence appeared persuasive and well-researched.

The committee is expected to release the evidence in coming days as it prepares to discuss whether the UK really needs nuclear power for energy security.

The debate has taken on greater significance as the true costs of nuclear power have been revealed.

It was once forecast that nuclear energy would be too cheap to meter. But it’s clear now that bill-payers will give price support to the Hinkley Point C nuclear station at a cost of £92.50 per megawatt hour, compared with £55 for offshore wind.

Ministers expect that, before long, wind energy will operate without support.

Prof Stirling says the issue of nuclear inter-dependence is addressed openly in the US.

In 2017, the former US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz (a nuclear scientist) said: “A strong domestic (nuclear) supply chain is needed to provide for Navy requirements. This has a very strong overlap with commercial nuclear energy.”

Prof Stirling told BBC News: “We need this sort of transparency in the UK.”

Catch-22

But the government faces a Catch-22 situation on this issue.

If it continues to decline to admit the inter-dependence of civil and military nuclear, it will stand accused of hiding a self-evident truth.
But if it accepts that decisions on nuclear power are influenced with half an eye on manufacturing jobs and nuclear deterrent, it will face resistance from consumer groups unwilling to cross-subsidise submarines.

The MPs’ hearing is timely, as the government will shortly publish an energy white paper outlining how the UK will supply electricity in a zero carbon economy.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-48509942