Thoughts from the Floods (&; Thoughts on the Earth Centre)

Toll Bar: summer 2007

Many of us from Doncaster and Sheffield had first hand experiences of the effects of flooding during the disastrous summer of 2007. Some of us are all too familiar with the problems that now face the people of Cumbria. We can send our sympathies and offers of support, but what we really need to do is wake up to the fact that more and more people are going to suffer as our planet warms up.

Paul Kingsnorth, co-founder of the Dark Mountain Project, has posted some important thoughts on the flooding in Cumbria on their blog. We think that his words bear repeating (as often as possible until the message gets through)…

I’ve seen the future, brother …

Recently, I moved to Cumbria. Just in time, it seems, to experience the highest level of rainfall ever recorded in the country. I’ve known and loved the lake district for a long time, but I have never seen it like this. For the past few days, every road has been a river, and the rivers themselves have become Himalayan in their rage and their reach. Every hill and mountain has had rills and torrents cascading from it and the fields have become meres. Five bar gates peer forlornly from the middle of wide and expanding lakes. The stream that comes down from the moor behind my house diverted itself at the weekend and chose a course that sunk below the building and welled up through the wall of our garage. Meanwhile, in the village on the other side of the common, an elderly man was lifted to safety with a Sea King helicopter; a common sight in the county over the last week.

And it’s not over yet. Roads are closed, bridges are down, trees have fallen, town centres are swamped and another 100mm of rain is on the way. It should reach us tomorrow. I am very aware of being one of the lucky ones. There are hundreds of people across the county who have literally lost everything, and a few who have lost their lives. I lost a few boxes of junk and my broadband connection.

In the same week this has happened, we have been treated to news about an argument between a gaggle of climate change deniers and some scientists, whose leaked emails they have stolen and published. To the deniers, this is the final proof of a giant global conspiracy by eco-socialists to tax and regulate them on the back of an invented scientific theory. To those of a calmer and more analytical frame of mind – such as my friend George Marshall, who analyses the situation here – it seems to be yet more evidence of the inability of a large swathe of the human race to look the future  in the face.

Here on the Dark Mountain we have been accused by some of hysteria, scaremongering and apocalyptic fantasies. This is par for the course for anyone who takes a realistic look at the future these days, but sometimes, sitting in a warm room in front of a computer, with a full stomach and a well-tended landscape outside, it can seem to be true. I have found myself, at times, wondering whether I am some sort of dilettante, paying games with darkness just for something to do. I have wondered whether I’m right; whether I’m getting carried away. Come on, I have said to myself. Calm down. That’s hardly going to happen, is it?

It’s easy to feel like this. Immediate comfort is a wonderful drug that can blind you to anything else, and especially the end of it. But it turns out to be wrong, and I can see some of the reasons why it is wrong from my window as I write. And I wonder how many pensioners will have to be rescued from their English country cottages with military helicopters, and how many A-roads will have to collapse into the white torrents beneath, and how many National Trust tea rooms will have to be submerged before it starts to sink in that it can happen here.

It can happen, and it is happening, and it will go on happening more and more. Because this is not a ‘one in a thousand year flood’ as the newsmen keep telling us. This is the present and the future; the descent has begun, and the electric cars and the conferences are not going to hold back the waters. The world we knew is not the world we have in store for us, and the future … well, the future is probably best left to Leonard Cohen:

Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
Won’t be nothing
Nothing you can measure anymore
The blizzard, the blizzard of the world
has crossed the threshold
and it’s overturned
the order of the soul

Visit the Dark Mountain site to offer your support.

Also Oxfam are hosting the Doncaster Climate Change Hearing at Bentley Pavilion, 5pm, Friday 27th November. We urge every concerned Doncaster resident to come along. We’d also like to draw people’s attention to a new proposal for the Earth Centre which attendants might like to support at the hearing…

The problem with Doncaster council is that it’s executive mayor since May is Peter Davies, a raving (but non-BNP) racist and facist (English Democrats) who never expected to win the election in a million years.  His principal ambience is the betting shop and he apparently still spends much of his time there.  When photographed in his office, the only documents visible on his desk or the shelving etc. were copies of the Racing Post.  Apart from his noxious racist and homophobic politics he is a complete incompetent and thicko who didn’t have a clue what the mayor’s powers were or what an elected mayor was supposed to do.  As the EDs got no councillors elected he couldn’t form a cabinet but eventually, after almost 2 months, a small group of very right-wing Tory councillors agreed to be his cabinet.  There’s so few of them that each holds 3 or 4 different cabinet posts.

He is opposed to “all green claptrap” and thinks Donny town centre needs a lot more traffic as this is “good for business”.  The so-called “policies” on which he was elected were just a series of slogans, most of which had nothing to do with any powers the mayor has, and all of which begged the question “how?”.  He told a delegation from Donny’s twin town in Germany (which couldn’t be cancelled after his election) to piss off and not come back again on the grounds that “this is England”.

I assume the unelected officers are just getting on running Donny.  Problem is that once an issue gets big enough for Davies to become aware of it, he’ll be in there denouncing “green claptrap”.  Under the elected mayor system he, effectively, IS the council.

Don’t have any answers.  He is a nightmre and actually a much more immediate threat than the BNP, in our view.  The BNP MEPs and councillors actually have no power at all, whereas this arsehole does.  What do people in Donny think?

Just so people who don’t know have the picture, Donny is not a small place.   It is a very large town with over a quarter of a million people.  It is about the same size as Nottingham or an inner London borough.  This is the mess in which it has been landed by decades of spectacular and blatant Labour Party corruption.

If Donny was in Sussex or Hertfordshire, you’d be reading about the scandals there in the national papers every week and someone like Davies would either never have got elected or been quickly hoyed out.  But it’s in South Yorkshire so the insular metropolitan elite don’t know and don’tgive a toss.

Last weekend, I visited with two intrepid yurt-makers and The Land is ours  who are taking forward a campaign to raise public awareness about the neglect and imminent fire-sale of the Earth Centre, a multimillion pound project funded at huge cost by the public with clear aims to be used as an educational facility for the community, which has been squandered and left to rot in the outskirts of Doncaster – home of Energy Secretary Ed Milliband’s parliamentary constituency in North Doncaster.

The centre has become a white elephant which exhibited all the hallmarks of being a temple to elitist middle-class pretensions of trendy environmentalism – and stands as a monument to a collosal waste of public (lottery) money (so much so that everyone who was involved in the project
has run a mile from it ever since). Nevertheless, it is home to an outsanding array of cutting-edge reneweable energy technology, which criminally, now currently stands idle.

Last Saturday, along with othere local activists, we walked round the site in the rain I might add, exploring all around it.

This is loosely a landrights issue, in that it’s a campaign against the potential public disposal of land. More of interest is the fact that it is a potentially explosive issue, of interest no doubt to climate change activists because Ed Milliband is a local MP, and the site is home to some of the most advanced sustainable technology currently available (near silent wind turbines, an advanced ‘living machine’ sanitation system, solar canopy, extensive allotments & forest gardens, etc.), yet remains
derelict, while it is currently being used by a corporate ‘war-games’  company. Despite being a project which became a collosal failure, the site remains a huge opportunity as a educational resource, not least for the local community. The public waste of the Earth Centre in it’s misconceived attempt at being purely a tourist centre which displayed the latest in renewable power solutions without working with the local community is analogous to the government’s half-hearted commitment to renewable energy, as it puts it’s stock in the nuclear option.

The local campaign wish to pressurise the local council to not ditch the  agreement that the site be used for educational purposes, as well asr unning a project which emphasises the decentralised solutions to power generation, with local people having more of a stake in the running of the

If the Millenium Dome in London can be sold for a pound, then why can’t the local community have a stake in the running of this centre, instead of simply flogging it off to the highest bidder!

Cadeby Quarry, Doncaster, South Yorkshire Cadeby is a village and civil parish in the Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster in South Yorkshire, England. It is about five miles west of Doncaster, and four miles east of Mexborough. The manor of Cadeby was held in medieval times by the Norman baronial Fitzwilliam family, and later by their descendants, the Copley baronets. Later, it was inherited by barrister Thomas Levett, a native of High Melton, who sold to his brother, York barrister John Levett, who in turn sold it to Edmund Hastings, Esq., of Plumtree, Nottinghamshire

It is right next door to the Earth Centre under here is 40 years of coal and more limstone, yes Cadeby Quarry has been rapeing the earth for over 40 years and has been given in quite another 40 years to expand there is, a site of special scientific interest which was notified in 1977 for its geological interest. The site covers 97 hectares (240 acres) of the old quarry.It is one of 35 sites of special scientific interest in South Yorkshire.

The Conisbrough Viaduct – built with 15 million bricks in 1906-7 this massive structure carried passenger trains across the Don Gorge until 1951. With 21 arches, 14 to the north side of its iron girder section and seven to the south, Conisbrough Viaduct formed part of a connection between the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway and those of the Great Northern and Great Eastern. At 1,584 feet in length, it is truly a Goliath structure built of 15million bricks – each one put in place by contractors Henry Lovat Ltd, who used an aerial cradle – called a ‘blondin’ – to carry men and materials across the river during its construction.

Could it be that the Quarry has been given the nod to expand into the land around the earth center, there is remember 40 years of  coal ready for an opan cast, once done why not take the limestone as well? The middle class talk about climate change here is one issue that is of real concern

As a site in Thurnscoe is top of the list of potential sites for a giant incinerator, it has emerged.The Thurnscoe Business Park was one of 13 sites in the South Yorkshire Times distribution area identified by regional waste management bosses looking to build a huge incinerator to deal with waste from Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham.

A total of 54 sites across the three boroughs were considered, but the Thurnscoe site has emerged as the front runner in a Development Plan Document jointly commissioned by the three councils. The former Corus site at Parkgate ranks third on the list of suitable sites.

The region faces the challenge of managing 611,000 tonnes of municipal, commercial and industrial waste per year by 2020, according to figures set out in the Yorkshire and Humber Plan.

A total of 231,000 tonnes per year will need to be recycled or composted to meet government targets. New waste management sites, needed to plug a shortfall of facilities across the region and reduce the amount of rubbish sent to landfill, will provide the latest equipment for recycling and either the physical, chemical or biological treatment of waste. Other sites will concentrate on composting or generating energy from waste products – including incineration, a process which relies on elaborate systems to clean up a wide range of harmful gases before they are released into the atmosphere.

Other sites in our area that were considered include:

・    Denaby Lane, Denaby Riverside at the rear of the Earth Centre
・    Pastures Road Mexborough, Mexborough Power Station,
・    Station Road Manvers, New Stubbin Colliery Rawmarsh,
・    Waddingtons Parkgate, Yorkshire Water sewage works Parkgate
・    Corus Parkgate, Bolton Road, Manvers, Yorkshire Water Wombwell and
・    Cadeby Quarry

All shortlisted sites will be subject to strict planning procedures before any schemes are given the go-ahead. Where have we herd this befor.

We need to act fast on this as Doncaster’s Climate Change denying Mayor has been holding planning meetings that were held in secret despite calls for them to be public meetings. Visit We Love the Earth Centre for more details.


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