Friday, 27 April 2012

One cheer for Peel and Covanta

'I come not to bury 'Peel' but to praise them.'  OK I'm no Mark Anthony and I'm not Peel's greatest fan - but there are some aspects of the Ince Resource Recovery Park that we should all, as locals, admire and respect.

OK none of us really wanted this development.  It was foisted on us by a Planning Inspector and the last Labour Government.  It is almost certainly going to be built - and it will bring around 2,300 permanent jobs to the area.

We know our transport links are not the greatest - and the prospect of 2,300 cars moving in and out of the site every day on to our local roads and even the M56 doesn't fill me with great glee. 

Peel and Covanta are shaping a 'green travel plan.' They want to encourage more of their workers to car share or arrive on foot, by train, cycle or walk.  This has got to be good news - especially if we all work together to secure some crucial changes.

I think I caused some surprise at the Ince park community forum meeting last Wednesday when I praised the scheme - although I did point out it wasn't sufficiently ambitious.

They suggested that people may not cycle to the site if they lived further away than Ince or Elton.  However if National Cycle route 5 was resurfaced and the previously thought of cycle route through Oil Sites Road was resurrected you suddenly open up cycling to residents of Ellsemere Port, Helsby and Frodsham to name but a few.

Then there is the question of rail travel.  Rail would work - that is providing we actually had a sensible rail service on the Ellesmere Port - Helsby line that serves Ince and Elton.  Then there is the related question of the Halton Curve.  If we got more people willing to travel by train Peel and Covanta's investment and job opportunities could greatly improve our rail services.  Peel are talking to Network Rail and others about a light rail solution to the Halton curve...

I also raised the question of electrical cars and bikes.  Installing charging points at work would remove 'range anxiety issues' - and encourage more sustainable transport use.

And the benefit of all this means that the jobs are likely to remain more local!!!

So Peel and Covanta - good start - a 'one cheer' for what you propose.  Please be more ambitious and join with the local communities in lobbying for better public transport infrastructure.  With your positive help we may get the change we want and need.