Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Thought of the day...

Why does it seem all the world's problems (GM food, Irak+Terrorism, financial unregulation, etc...) come from USA but no solution does?

For too long, lobbies have done their best to obliterate indirect costs, either related to health (e.g. GMO, tobacco), ecology (e.g. CO2, endengered species) and what we see is just the need to take those costs into account, via oil prices or litigation.

We would not be there if the US Government had regulated earlier with sustainability as a principle.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Some Heathrow news...

A collection of interesting news items over the last couple of weeks...

Firstly, it seems politicians are starting to get their head about the anger caused by the unabated Heathrow expansion pushed by BAA and the DfT:

Government body calls for Heathrow review (RTT, 19/09/08)
Wandsworth Council leader Edward Lister said: “First the environment
agency now the SDC, how many more of the Government’s own advisers have
to tell Gordon Brown that he has got it wrong on Heathrow expansion?
“The economic case for expanding Heathrow seems to hinge on a
future of cheaper flights and ever-growing demand. But none of these
assumptions seem to take account of rising oil costs, the economic
downturn or the government’s own CO2 targets.
“No serious attempt has been made to compare the benefits of a
third runway with other transport solutions such as high speed rail for
which there is great demand on Scotland and the North.

“It’s five years since the airports white paper was published and
it is looking increasingly irrelevant to the nation’s transport needs.

“Brown should order an independent study that looks at the full
impact of expanding Heathrow on all sectors of the economy – and
compares it to the alternatives. There must be more to UK transport
policy than what is good for BAA.”

Did he read my previous posts on the subject???  The Sustainable Development Commission report is here.

Tories promise to shelve plans for third runway (RTT, 29/09/08)

"shadow transport secretary Theresa Villers said a Tory Government would
spend £20billion on a high-speed rail line between London’s St Pancras,
where the Eurostar is based, and Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds."

I couldn't agree more!

Boris Johnson has smelt the opportunity and resurrected the plans for a new airport in the estuary:
Boris Johnson airs plan for Heathrow-on-Sea (Times Online 10/02/08).  Makes total sense to me, as it's not that much more expensive than a third runway and a much better location. Unfortunately, short-sighted politicians have stalled it so far:

"Since the 1960s, 13 major cities including Paris, Milan and New York have
moved their airports further out. In Hong Kong, the government spent six
years and $20 billion building an airport on an artificial island and
linking it by bullet train to the city.In Britain, however, similar proposals have repeatedly been blocked. In the
1970s a scheme to build an airport on Maplin Sands near Southend-on-Sea in
Essex was abandoned because of a shortage of public funds."

(Image from "Scrap Heathrow and build a £30bn airport on an island, says Boris Johnson", Daily Mail 22/09/08)

PS: just to confirm that the company running Heathrow isn't up to the job:
Bacteria leaks and lost passengers among Heathrow breaches (RTT, 28/09/08)
CAA supports forced sell off of BAA airports

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What do you think of low cost carriers?

Saw this post today and commented on my own experience:
bmi baby: cheap but not cheerful AccMan

I've never been found of low cost carriers: yes, they're cheap. Except that you find out after that you need to pay for food, luggage, make your way to remote airports, etc...

And the service is poor. That's actually not true: there's no service.

Furthermore, they're quite bad for the economy and the environment: I don't believe we should have stag parties in Estonia or elsewhere just because it's cheap.

Without low cost carriers, would BAA scream to expand Heathrow? Do we actually need another runway or would it be better to improve the rail links to allow people to spend time in the UK???

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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Waterloo plans mean no end of misery for commuters

Read today on ThisIsLondon.co.uk: Rail bosses reveal radical revamp plan for Waterloo. I guess this means the former Eurostar terminal won't be useable by commuters trains before long: what a disgrace! (read Londonist: What Next For Waterloo? for more).

It's about time someone sorts out Waterloo: one of the businest station, the passenger flows are chaotic and platforms are too short for longer trains.

Also, the partition erected some 30 years ago (?) removes the perspective (see photo) and makes the station really ugly.

An underground concourse and the removal of the partition would be good news indeed, let's just hope we'll get it sooner than later. I would not bet on this though....

Tags: london, waterloo, trains, railways, UK, transportation, richmondtransits.blog

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Richmond on the crime map

The Beeb reports that a new crime map has been launched.

From the Met web site, it looks really good (see picture).

However, upmystreet.com reports more burglaries than the national average -so all is not rosy:

London Borough of Richmond upon ThamesEnglish average
Crime statistics are per 1,000 of the population within the local authority area. Learn more


Violence against the person11.416.7
Robbery offences2.21.2
Theft of a motor vehicle offences2.32.9
Sexual offences0.70.9
Burglary dwelling offences5.74.3
Theft from a vehicle offences8.57.6

Airplanes noise common sense?

Why can't simple measures like they're implementing in Paris help with noise:
  • Increase the altitude by 300 m and come down quicker: this would reduce the noise by 50% within 10-25 km!
  • Tax aircraft movements between 1800 and 2200 (there's a strict curfew for Paris airport) between 2200 and 0600) and allocate this tax income to neighbouring residents for sound-proofing their homes.
Answer? Because the Department of Transport has aligned itsefl very closely with BAA and BA and has absolutely no interest for local residents' welfare.

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Free range children?

Are we too protective of our kids?
Are we living in an overly clean environment?

I've been wondering awhile about those questions, so when I read those, they certainly added fuel to my thoughts:

Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone
This post on the blog Free Range Kids discusses about how much independence to give children: it's something I often discuss and sometimes argue about with my wife.
  • Should my 4 year old go to the post box on the corner of our street, just one house away, on her own -with us watching from the window? We think so.
  • Should my 7 year old be allowed to open the oven unsupervised to prick a cake with a sharp cooking knife and check if the clafoutis is ready? I think so, my wife disagrees.
  • From what age can they walk about a mile to school -unsupervised? 8? 10? 15???

Apparently unrelated are allergies. They seemed no provisions for allergic kids when I was at school and now everyone's going nuts about it. Nuts and a growing list of things are banned from kids parties.
As I've written here, we're exposed to more pollutants like diesel and many chemicals and many suspect there are links to cancers, asthma, allergies, etc...

As I've written here, I think we shold eat more un-pasteurised foods. This article from the Beeb seems to confirm this: Farm pregnancy 'cuts asthma risk'

My conclusions? Should we be less protective of our children, while reducing the chemicals ingestion and exposure and eating more natural stuff? I think so.

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