Transport In Derbyshire And Beyond

Tranport policy is a fundamental failure of this and previous governments. We need a carefully planned and boldly implemented transport system if we are to build a future to cope with climate change.  Until the recession, CO2 emissions from transport had been rising inexorably. In the long term, only good public transport can reduce emissions.


Nationally, trains have been neglected for many years. Most money goes to London and the South East, now under the guise of catering for the Olympics – a party that will last for 3 weeks! You only have to compare with European continental trains to see how far behind we have fallen in this country. Important in an election? Yes to Greens. Trains (and trams) powered by renewable electricity will have to be the main source of long distance transport to reduce climate change and to overcome the lack and high price of oil supplies.

Nationally, one of the longest intercity train services is between Liverpool and Norwich, via Sheffield, Chesterfield and sometimes Long Eaton and Alfreton. Many of the trains are two coaches only. These have been overcrowded for years between Manchester and Nottingham. We were promised at a meeting in Chesterfield in March that the trains would be expanded to 4 coaches in May. We later heard they were talking about May 2012!

Derbyshire County Council (DCC) have been lamentable on this issue. The reopening of the Matlock to Buxton line was a “key” element in their Local Transport Plan 1 in 2000. They contracted Scott Wilson to produce a feasibility study which stated that it would be relatively easy to reopen the line as most infrastructure was still in place. DCC  (then Labour) got cold feet and refused to proceed with it. The Multi-Modal study on the East Midlands section of the M1 recommended that the East-West rails lines, some intact, should be reopened to passenger traffic. This report was supported by DCC and Chesterfield Borough Council (CBC).  Virtually nothing has been done to implement this recommendation. It was DCC that cut off Chesterfield Town Center from the rail station by building the so-called “bypass” between the two. There are no bus services of any use to the station, and only a few per day to Bolsover. DCC refuse to support anything to provide such a service.


In general DCC has been very supportive of bus services, and their support of Community transport has also been excellent. Unfortunately their information systems are awful. Take the journey by bus from Chesterfield to Wirksworth for example: we assume there must be reasonable services, but they do not give details in their timetable booklet that we all have to pay for. Information at bus stops is either non-existent or poor quality. Our case is that,  for a little more money, good information could persuade more people to use buses, thus reducing the necessity for so much subsidy.  The bus companies are equally guilty here, but they are let off the hook by bad management at DCC. The bus companies tell us that it is DCC’s job and not theirs to provide bus information, while DCC tell us the opposite! Nothing gets done except one playing off against the other. As the licensor and contract provider DCC should be in the driving seat.

The Need For Wind Power On Matlock Moor

The moral imperative:  We need all the energy we can get — it will be a mixture. Anyone who expects the lights to come on at the flick of a switch has a moral duty to accept renewable energy in all but the most exceptional circumstances. There’s a government planning policy statement that says as much (PPS1 CC supplement)

Green Party policy #1:  Renewable energy is the most beneficial to the planet and the human race. Wind power is one of the lowest carbon sources; its ultra safe and it’s our own energy resource. The more wind energy, the less need for carbon rich sources and unsafe import-dependent nuclear energy, which isn’t low carbon. Storage is an issue that we’ve been slow to address but there are several technical solutions. The Green Party is urging massive investment in renewable energy. Renewable energy is part of the Green Party’s drive for a million green jobs (go to selected quote:-

“A massive increase in the proportion of electricity that comes from renewable sources – raising wind energy production to the same level as Denmark by 2020 would alone create 200,000 jobs.”

Green Party policy #2: “Fair is worth fighting for”  It is essential that no-one in the local community suffers unfairly from these machines. Neighbours should be compensated appropriately within a fair and transparent system. The local community, whose local assets are being used, should benefit from a share in the venture, ideally through an opportunity to own or part own machines or by some other contribution.

Peak District National Park Authority: The Matlock turbines are not in specially protected countryside. I live in and used to work for the Peak National Park Authority. My LPA, the PDNPA, has now twice spent significant resources on objections to wind farms and even on a legal challenge. The basic case against wind farms inside the Park is that on entering and being in the Park, it should visibly be a special place. The converse surely applies. Once inside the Park and looking out, one should expect a difference. I believe it is inappropriate for the PDNPA to oppose wind farms outside the Park on the basis of distant views from a small area in the Park. It should learn from the Carsington decisions.

Local opinion: For the last 5 years I have worked for Sustainable Youlgrave (SY)*. The PDNPA urged SY to assess local support for SY’s proposals for a limited number of individual wind turbines. We agreed; and carried out opinion polls. A significant majority of those polled are in favour of wind turbines in our valley, even where seen from the interviewees’ homes. I’m aware of no such poll before resources were spent opposing the Carsington and Matlock installations.

by John Youatt, electoral agent for Cllr Josh Stockell, the Green Party parliamentary candidate for the Derbyshire Dales. (* SY is strictly apolitical. I resigned my chairmanship of SY on taking up a role for the Green Party)

Wind and Water Power in Derbyshire

It is right to draw attention to the possibilities of water power as a source of renewable energy. Both water and wind power have been used for millenia to take the manual labour out of simple tasks such as grinding. The suggestion that water power should be used before we resort to large windmills results from falling into the trap of failing to include figures in the argument.

If we take the example of Arkwright’s mill at Cromford: a visit there will show that the machines were powered with two water wheels that generated around 20 horse power. Arkwright soon ran out of power and moved round the corner to a weir on the Derwent where he built Masson Mill with a further two water wheels that generated around 30HP. Whilst these pioneers showed the way for the industrial revolution, it did not happen until steam engines where improved to the stage that they could generate substantially higher powers and for 150 years our energy came from coal, the start of the human cause of global warming.

The advent of electrical technology provided a more efficient way of converting energy and Masson Mills installed their first water turbine driven alternator of 100kW in the 1920s and added a further one of 160kW in the 1950s. They now have the ability to produce 260kW but are unable to do so on a continuous basis as there is not enough water in the Derwent. Nevertheless they continue to supply electricity to the grid as they have done for many years.

Let me put these power levels on a practical level: a modern car has an engine of 50 – 100 HP (37 – 75 kW) which is as much or more power than Arkwright had to run his two mills. A modern house will be wired to consume 25kW and if supplied with gas and a modest boiler to take another 20kW (a total of 60HP). Masson Mill’s alternators would perhaps be able to supply electricity for around 20 houses.

The generators proposed for Matlock Moor will be rated at 2,500kW each, a total of 12,500kW, eighty times the output of Masson Mill. An output that would be both difficult and very expensive to collect from all the rivers in Derbyshire. The choice is ours. We either accept the relatively benign modern wind generators (and other forms or renewable energy sources) or we will have to go without our cars and other high energy consuming devices that we have come to rely on in recent years.

Charles Brown
Derbyshire Green Party