Archive for January, 2010

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Anti-Nuclear Protestors Want Bristol Views Heard

January 19, 2010

Anti-nuclear protestors will demonstrate in Bristol demanding Bristolians be consulted about plans for two new nuclear reactors near the city.

The protest outside the council house on Tuesday afternoon has been organised by Lib Dem councillor Mark Wright, who has also asked the council to formally oppose the new reactors at Oldbury and Hinkley Point.

Hinkley Point, near Burnham, is about 25 miles from Bristol. Oldbury in Gloucestershire is only 8 miles outside the city boundaries.

Oldbury Power Station

Oldbury Power Station

Dr Wright, who is a long-term campaigner against nuclear power told Jones The News: “The government is pressing ahead with imposing a new wave of nuclear reactors on the country, because they haven’t pulled their finger out in time to get renewable energy up and running. We’re going to have two of them near Bristol.

“These power stations are being pushed through and there have been no consultations near Bristol. Consultations have been held for people living in the towns just north of Bristol, but none here.

“There are half a million people in greater Bristol and I’m sure many of them have views on these power stations.”

Dr Wright’s motion will be discussed at a full meeting of Bristol City council on Tuesday afternoon. It calls on the city to oppose the new reactors and to demand more consultation for people in the city.

Jim Duffy, Coordinator of the Stop Hinkley campaign group said: “People from Bristol were very involved in the previous Hinkley C inquiry in 1988-89. It will be an important message if the City Council votes to oppose the new development.

“Being downwind from Hinkley and so close to Oldbury, Bristolians should not be excluded from deciding on something that could profoundly affect them.”

The power companies involved in building the new reactors claim they have consulted Bristolians through discussions with the city council and the government.

EDF Energy, the firm that intends to build the new Hinkley Point reactor, told Jones The News in a statement that the first stage of a pre-application public consultation had just finished on January 18, and that they had been encouraged by the level of public response.

They said: “Over 1,000 local people have attended public consultation events and more than 400 stakeholders have participated at additional stakeholder meetings to date. Bristol City Council were formally consulted about our initial proposals and options in November 2009.

“We continue to welcome views on our proposals and will review all responses before we carry out the second stage of consultation in the spring. Details can be found online at http://www.edfconsultation.info

“The consultation’s focus has been the potential impact of the development of new nuclear power at Hinkley Point, and its associated infrastructure, on surrounding local communities particularly those in West Somerset and neighbouring Sedgemoor.

“Additional national consultations on wider questions beyond the immediate local impact, including the need case for new nuclear and where new power stations might be located have also been conducted by Government through which the residents of Bristol could also express their views.”

Horizon Nuclear Power, the joint venture of E-On and RWE behind Oldbury, said: “Bristol is a very important area to us and no decisions will be made before people and local authorities in and around the city have had a chance to have their say on our proposals.

“We’re still in the very early stages of the project and haven’t even begun the formal consultations we are required to do in the run up to a planning application.

“What we have been carrying out is early informal engagement and we thought it was most sensible to start with the communities nearest the power station. We’re looking forward to expanding this to Bristol as we enter the next stage.

“In the meantime the earliest we would apply for planning permission would be towards the end of 2011 with construction unlikely to begin before 2013, and there will be many opportunities during that time for people to have their say and influence the process.”

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Bristol A&E Cases Soar Because Of Ice

January 13, 2010

The BRI reports a spike in the number of people going to A&E because of falls on the ice in Bristol.

Hospital bosses say they normally see between 140-160 cases a day at the accident and emergency department at the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

But they saw between a third and half more in the three days following snowfall in Bristol last week.

Snow fell on Wednesday 6th Jan, and A&E saw 218 cases on the Thursday, 230 on the Friday and 201 on the Saturday. By Sunday the number of cases had returned to “the high end of average”.

A Broken Leg

A spokeswoman told Jones The News the increase could be put down to slips, falls and trips on the ice and snow. Most of the cases involved sprains and broken bones.

The city council has defended its policy on gritting the city’s pavements, saying it does not have enough grit to salt pavements as well as main roads. Bristol, along with all other local councils, was also told to ration its use of grit as the nation’s stocks ran low.

Nonetheless, the Lib Dem administration on the council has come under fire from Labour councillors Ron Stone and Mark Brain, who have demanded the Lib Dems provide figures on the relative costs of gritting pavements and treating broken bones.

Air ambulance paramedics have also reported attending a number of sledging accidents, as the helicopter is often the only way to reach some of the relatively remote places where sledging accidents happen.

Air paramedic Pete Sadler said many of the cases he had attended involved people who had hit trees or rocks hidden under the snow.

He said: “Are they lucky? Well, they are lucky not to have long-term effects from their injuries. I know of other cases where people have not fared so well.

“If ‘lucky’ is the way to describe a broken arm or a broken ankle, then I would say that compared to a life-threatening injury, that’s lucky.”

“And he urged sledgers to take care in the fresh snow. He said: “Do think about the obstacles in the way. Think about the fact that a sledge isn’t easily controllable.

“If there is a possibility that the sledge might hit a tree or rock, then it’s best to choose another sledge run.”

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Firefighters ‘Proactive’ In Preventing Gas Danger

January 11, 2010

Bristol’s firefighters say they are doing enough to educate firms and prevent gas cylinder explosions like the one in St Philip’s.

A cylinder of the compressed gas — used in welding — exploded at the BOC plant in St Philip’s on Thursday afternoon, and a large area currently remains cordoned off.

But Avon Fire and Rescue claim the gas is safe if stored correctly, and that they are educating firms about its dangers.

They also say it is too early to say exactly what caused the explosion and whether the correct safety procedures were followed.

London Acetylene Safety Leaflet

Acetylene is a popular choice for welding because, when mixed with oxygen, it burns at a very high temperature. This means it can be used to weld a higher number of metals than some other gases. It has been used for over 100 years.

However, firefighters say acetylene is at particular risk of exploding because it can ‘self-heat’ without a flame, for example if knocked.

When an incident occurs, safety regulations demand an area 200 metres around it be cordoned off. There have been calls for the gas to be banned in the past, and it is a regular concern in fires.

In the current Bristol incident, this meant a railway line, commuter routes along Whitby Rd and Feeder Rd and business parks such as Avon Meads being closed over the last four days. An incident involving acetylene occurred at the same BOC depot in St Philip’s in 2006.

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) has run a huge acetylene education programme over the past three years, which has succeeded in reducing the number of incidents in the capital.

One leaflet produced in London even suggests firms reconsider their use of acetylene and switch to other gases.

There is no similar programme in the Avon area, but city firefighters are adamant they are doing enough to minimise the risks.

Station manager Rob Davis told Jones The News: “London have taken the lead on acetylene safety but we have been involved with them.

“We’ve been actively involved in the national arena as part of the Chief Fire Officers Association. Acetylene is high on our priority list and we have been proactive to increase awareness of safety issues around acetylene.

“We provide advice across the spectrum, including to businesses. We do suggest that anything that makes the workplace safer is a better choice.

“Acetylene is safe – it is a safe gas if used in the correct hands. But that’s true of a lot of things. A lot of things that are used in industry are potentially dangerous, but safe if used in a safe way.”

The umbrella organisation for the compressed gas industry, the BCGA, also insists acetylene is safe.

BCGA Chief Executive Doug Thornton said: “Acetylene cylinders are perfectly safe unless they are exposed to a raging fire. In 70% of the incidents involving acetylene, the cylinder itself is not the cause of the fire, but is the innocent bystander that gets involved in a fire that relates to something else.

“There are other methods of welding and other gas alternatives, but nothing can really replace acetylene. It can weld metals that others can’t. If you want to weld metals you need oxy-acetylene.”

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Council Will Not Be Stadium Shareholders

January 8, 2010

The claims, made on Tony D’s Aurea Mediocritas Blog, have been dismissed as “inaccurate and unsubstantiated” by Bristol City, and have also been denied by a senior Lib Dem source on the city council.

The article claimed Bristol City Council had approached Bristol City FC with an offer to become minority shareholders in the stadium, which City refused.

Such a plan would effectively mean the stadium being partly funded by council taxpayers’ money and partly owned by the city of Bristol.

But Bristol City spokesman Adam Baker strenuously denied the suggestions, saying: “”No such offer has been made. This blog is inaccurate and unsubstantiated.

“We have worked very closely with the City Council from the very outset and that process continues to involve detailed discussion and negotiation on a range of issues.

“We are confident that we will complete the remaining details of the planning process on the stadium in the next few weeks.

“Our plan to open a new 30,000 seater regional stadium and move into a new home for the 2012/13 season remains on track.”

A senior source on the city’s ruling Lib Dem group also forcefully denied the claims.

However, the row has reopened the debate on whether there should be public funding available for the new stadium.

Bristol City Chief Executive Colin Sexstone has previously said one of the strengths of the stadium plan was that it was funded completely by private investment and that this was something Bristol should be proud of. He has also said there is currently no public money available for the stadium.

However, as exclusively reported by Jones The News, regional quango the South West RDA have been in talks with the club about a possible public investment for the stadium.

The RDA is currently in talks with the city council about swapping the former arena site at Temple Meads with a plot adjacent to the site of the new stadium, in order to make building an arena at Ashton Vale easier.

The question of public investment may become more urgent if the club’s current plan to fund the stadium by selling Ashton Gate to Sainsbury’s runs into trouble.

The club hopes to raise £20m towards its new ground by selling its ground to the supermarket giant.

However, the planning report into the Tesco proposal was highly critical, leading many to speculate it would have been turned down by the city council.

Sources at the now-disbanded anti-Tesco campaign group Berate claimed to Jones The News they interpreted the report as being critical of any supermarket on the Ashton Gate site, and believe the Sainsbury’s plan will receive a similarly hostile reception from planners.