DON VALLEY RAILWAY PRESENTATION TO CLIMATE ACTION ZOOM CONFERENCE

Chris Bell did a presentation to the Penistone and Stocksbridge Climate Action event on Sunday 28 April 2021.

In a short presentation and a break out session he went through the history of their start up in 2004 and current needs for better freight and passenger service on this and the surrounding rail network. This included the difficulties of funding, various feasibility studies including how that might fit with the tram network, different energy sources such as brown, blue or green hydrogen powered trains, electrification, creating connections along the line and beyond as well as the necessary bus links. Current Northern Powerhouse rail plans miss our area, bypassing a lot of South Yorkshire.

In addition there were three other presentations considering aspects of community action on Climate Change.

Fran Postlethwaite from the Better Buses Campaign, updated us since her last talk about the report on the National Bus Strategy which states that deregulation has been a complete failure, fares are rising, routes falling and there is a need for an ‘enhanced partnership’ strategy to turn this round. This doesn’t address public control of public transport, unlike the example this week of buses being taken into Manchester City’s control. She gave us details about the recent report on rural bus services “Every Village, Every Hour”. This has been done by the Campaign to Protect Rural England and other groups with a fully costed appraisal that shows bus services can be provided just like the title – for every village a bus every hour from 6am to midnight every day of the week. She pointed out the need to join campaigning groups to create the political pressure for for better bus services. This is surely the only way previously isolated communities as well as the rest of the country outside London are going to be able to survive without using cars. The world does not have enough resources for everyone to have a car, nor is it sustainable.

Chris Bell from Don Valley Railway went through the history of their start up in 2004 and current needs for better freight and passenger service on this and the surrounding rail network. This included the difficulties of funding, various feasibility studies including how that might fit with the tram network, different energy sources such as brown, blue or green hydrogen powered trains, electrification, creating connections along the line and beyond as well as the necessary bus links. Current Northern Powerhouse rail plans miss our area, bypassing a lot of South Yorkshire.

Barry Tylee from Upper Don Renewable Energy explained that their group came out of a project from Sheffield University, looking at the possibilities of wind turbines and photovoltaic panels in Stocksbridge. His group objectives are to promote the need for improved energy efficiency and renewable energy generation, awareness of environmental and related issues, supporting educational initiatives related to renewable energy, and to install and maintain community owned renewable energy where possible. He told us that he Green Home Grant Voucher Scheme stops in a few days time having only run for six months and has not met its targets, with poor administration and people still waiting for payment. Fossil fuel for home heating should change to using renewable energy with examples of heat pumps, photovoltaic panels, wind turbines, hydro schemes such as Archimedes screws, battery storage, anaerobic digestors and biomass systems. So many homes still need insulating and new homes are best built to Passivhaus standards which is rarely done. The flooded galleries under Stocksbridge would be a huge source of energy for heat pumps with a survey showing overwhelming support for these green sources of energy, except wind turbines where opinion is evenly split. More charging points are clearly needed for electric vehicles and the electricity grid needs updating to supply the three times extra demand for electricity that will be needed in the future but who will pay?

Faye Tomson, Tomson Consulting, told us about a community anaerobic digester, a big sealed tank so no oxygen can get in, filled with a variety of organic matter where bacteria produce heat and methane which is then used as fuel to make electricity. The waste matter at the end of the digester process is used as fertiliser. Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham use their collected organic waste like this. Using these digesters  means the organic material from farmer’s field or green bin collection that would normally rot down and release CO2, can be used to produce electricity.  Over the last 10 years, the government has had incentives as part of the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme which stops at the end of this month but there is another scheme that will be there for the next 15 years. These digesters could also feed electricity into the National Grid but this is uneconomic at the current 3 or 4 pence per kilowatt hour.

A link to the event

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLuxnczcxrIwFA3DrZinKbosgvY51bAib2

A copy of the presentation

A presentation to Community Action Penistone & Stocksbridge

 

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