Thanet and China, a union of pollution and economic disaster or a union of eco friendly prosperity?
Checking around the web this morning I noticed Commercial Group Properties, the firm behind the China Gateway development at Manston, seem top be having IT problems.
Their website has gone, see http://www.commercialgroupproperties.plc.uk/ or rather don’t see it.
As soon as I saw the initial plans for this development, I had great reservations about what these people are actually up to, because from an engineering point of view these plans just didn’t make any sense.
These plans were drawn up by the same firm of architects that drew the initial plans for the Pleasurama development, the ones that were for the building that was higher than the cliff behind it.
In the case of The China Gateway development it was the drainage plans that didn’t make any sense, one aspect of which was that the individual Chinese companies were to have their own septic tank system, processing their own sewage and industrial waste on site and poring the results into our drinking water reservoir.
Now I am all for a dialogue with China and the encouragement of an improvement in their human rites, attitude to pollution, a more balanced trade relationship etc, but with an element of caution.
When it comes to environmental projects, one that I view with suspicion is the offshore wind farm one, from an engineering point of view this seems to me much more about getting grant funding, than solving pollution and climate change problems.
The first question here is, what happens when the wind doesn’t blow? I am afraid the answer to this one is. There is some sort or polluting backup power station, after all if the backup power station was one that wasn’t polluting, why not use it all the time?
Of course here in Ramsgate we can only benefit from the windfarms putting money into out economy and I am please to have their business here.
That said I am suspicious about the windfarm operators attitude to the environment, because the whole business doesn’t seem to make sense to me, from an engineering point of view, so I tend to keep a bit of an eye on the situation there.
I have to say I wasn’t that surprised to read this morning about a pollution skeleton in their cupboard, see http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1350811/In-China-true-cost-Britains-clean-green-wind-power-experiment-Pollution-disastrous-scale.html
It is looking to me as though, if Thanet is going to develop a special relationship with China, we need to take some care.
Kent International Airport
I am afraid when one of the local councils starts talking about spending six figure amounts to regenerate the area, I now get very suspicious and spending £10,000,000 ish on in a station for the airport is just another occasion.
I really don’t believe that our local councils take an objective view of the airport, of course I am likely to be ill informed, so corrections in the comments please.
What we have is a huge runway, in a place where no one sensible would put a commercial airport, it faces the wrong way, has a town at the end of it and because of its geographical location can never be a transport hub, a couple of spokes of the wheel maybe, but a hub never.
With a truly massive amount of investment, modern guidance systems, hard standing for enough aircraft to park in, viable solutions to the drainage and other pollution problems, still it’s in the wrong place.
Talking to the engineers who have to solve the problems there is a bit of an education and the main problem at the moment that they are working on is the drainage one, here is an example of what I mean.
Now something you just wouldn’t do if you were planning a new airport from scratch is build it on top of an essential drinking water reservoir, solving the problems just don’t make economic sense, but as Manston is already in this situation and various contingency plans exist in case of a big fuel spillage.
At some time in the past some clever engineer decided to take up the turf covering a large part of the grass bit of the airfield and put a thick layer of clay underneath, so that if a plane crashes on the green bit and the fuel is spilt, then there will be time to contain the fuel and clean it up before it soaks into the ground.
Sound great doesn’t it, unfortunately the clay is only under some bits, no one seems too know which bits and putting clay under the rest of it wouldn’t be an allowable pollution solution with the regulations in place now.
Apart from when encouraging investors and government finance I don’t think anyone really sees Manston as a paying proposition, different firms have tried to make it pay, over the last fifty years or so, with no great amount of success, when it changes hands it tends to do so because it is very cheap.
On to the local blogs this week, the main thing to covered is the councillors handbags at dawn spat over Mark Nottingham’s deselection, the implications relating to the leadership of the Labour group and possibly even the future leadership of the council.
There are several rumours going around about a spat in the Conservative group over deselection too.
The whole business raises two important issues that I can see.
One being, is party politics in any way suited to district council level? I say this mainly because I think if you took the time the able councillors from all political persuasions are able to give to the very real problems in Thanet and got them all to work together, I am not so sure they would be up to the task.
The other being, having voted to chose the leader of them selves against the unanimous results of the public consultation, the bits of the way the leader of the council is chosen that have slipped into public view, look well just ludicrous.
Looking at the other blogs for something in terms of other news, I should draw your attention to one I put up on my other blog http://thanetpress.blogspot.com/2011/01/thanet-district-council-how-much-money.html
The national government has told local government that it now has to publish details of any individual spends over £100 and this post has links to the first lot of figures that Thanet District Council have published.
The whole thing is a bit only in Thanet, as all the information is there apart from what they actually spent the money on.
Thanet Press Releases is bit of a strange blog, I started it so that I wouldn’t spam this blog up with all of the bits of local information that receive by email.
Most of these were council press releases and now the council are getting much better at publishing them on their own website, in a timely manner I am considering stopping publishing them there.
Any one got any views on this one?
Simon Moores has a post about Margate Caves that doesn’t sound very encouraging see http://birchington.blogspot.com/2011/01/down-pan.html perhaps if the caves contained modern art they would have some chance of getting open again.
Perhaps the people bunkering fuel just off Margate could be asked to sponsor the caves.
The rest of Simon’s posts this week bring to mind people in glass houses and make one wonder which councillor will go nuclear, perhaps this enigmatic post by Ken Gregory is a portent http://villagevoices.blogspot.com/2011/01/so-whats-new.html
Bignews Tony Margate has had so much unsavoury comment about the councillors handbags at dawn that he has switched off comments for the weekend see http://bignewsmargate.blogspot.com/2011/01/handbags-at-dawn-and-less-than.html
I don’t think people realise the problems associated with potentially libellous comments about known local people, I had several from Retired which I have had to delete as I just don’t have the resources to check on their accuracy and frankly as this is my blog, it is me that carries the can if someone decides to take legal action.
I should reiterate that unsubstantiated comment naming real people and suggesting that local people have done something that may be construed as wrong will be deleted out of hand.
New kid on the block Readit, now revealed as our very own Ken Read has produced some excellent posts in the last week, I can recommend his whole weeks blogging, see http://in2thanet.blogspot.com/
Sacking the Senior Council Officers
As far as I can work out talking to various council officers about the council job cuts, most of the senior and quite a few junior council officers get made redundant, I am told that the redundancy payments are fairly modest.
The ones that want to then have to apply for the replacement posts in what is a new job structure.
Rather a peculiar aside to this seems to be the situation where some of the very senior officers have moved sideways over the years and so don’t have qualifications for the job they do.
I will explain this with a purely hypothetical example, that has no relationship with any one working in the council, I hope.
Joe Blogs is good at sums, gets a good maths GCSE and enough others to go on for A levels, he then gets a grade A in maths at A level so goes off to university and does economics, having got his maths degree he gets a job in the accounts department of the council and eventually gets near to the top of the councils finance department.
He then switches to the planning department where most of the other people have got degrees in architecture, over the years he eventually becomes the head of the planning department, but his professional qualifications are in economics.
Now the council has a great job reshuffle and there is no longer a head of the planning department, but a post called “head residential social and economic environmental development”
The question is will Joe be eligible even to apply for this post, based on his qualifications.
Anyone for tennis?
The children watched the tennis final today and I managed to find them some clips of John McEnroe’s spat with the rude words omitted, see below.
I will ramble on today as the mood takes me.