23/07/2009

Eco town con for Bordon and Norwich

The ECO TOWN con...The financing of the DTR (defence training review) site has been rocked by the shaky economy. The Metrix led consortium had planned to fund the project through the sale of surplus MoD land but with the housing market hitting rock bottom, predicted revenues are now substantially less than first believed. Rising inflation has led to a ballooning of costs to £12bn.


The government hoped to make millions from selling Ministry of Defence land for eco-towns - The truth behind Gordon Brown's flagship eco-town policy to raise millions from the schemes while watering down their green credentials. The Treasury stands to make about £275million through land sales, because six out of the 15 shortlisted sites are on property either sold or earmarked for sale by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Critics claim the Government is forcing the unpopular eco-towns on the public to make more money from the land and say the process by which the final locations are to be selected is flawed, because ministers will have a vested interest in choosing the MoD sites. Full articles below...


The credit crunch scuppered that plan but still they struggle on and find more subsidies for Metrix ..

Now we have Camp and Airfield Among Named Eco-Town Sites

The locations of 4 new "eco-towns" have been announced as part of scaled-down Government plans. They are Rackheath, Norfolk; north west Bicester, Oxfordshire; Whitehill Bordon, East Hants; and the China Clay Community near St Austell, Cornwall.

RAF Rackheath was constructed in 1943 for the United States Army Air Force Eighth Air Force. It closed in 1945 and the airfield site was returned to farming. Bordon was first laid out in 1899 by the Highland Light Infantry. The first occupants of Quebec Barracks were the Somersetshire Light Infantry, returning from South Africa in April 1903, and the 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment arrived at St. Lucia Barracks from South Africa in June 1903. Bordon Camp was home to the Canadian Army during both world wars. Bordon is currently home to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, providing trade training. MoD has decided to relocate Armed Forces training from Whitehill Bordon to St Athan in 2011.

THE former RAF Newton site has been 'eliminated' from the Government's list of eco-towns, it has been confirmed. The four successful bids announced in the House of Commons this morning were for Whitehill-Bordon, in Hampshire; China Clay Community, in St Austell, Cornwall; North Bicester, in Oxfordshire; and Rackheath, in Norwich.

How Ben Fogle helped save his village from becoming an eco-town
Telegraph.co.uk - Ben Fogle - ‎Jul 18, 2009‎
Now that the soldiers had a captain, a campaign action group was formed, called Cafe (Communities against Ford Eco-town). To help cover costs,

Nothing will stop us now

CELEBRATION TIME: East Hampshire District Council leader Ferris Cowper following the Government’s announcement. Published Date:22 July 2009 By Mary Bishop
Supporters of the eco-town plans for Bordon and Whitehill have vowed to make sure the project pushes forward, despite fears that delays in the Army moving training facilities out of the town could cause a stumbling block in their progress.

East Hampshire District Council and other agencies and groups working on the plans were celebrating the Government's announcement last Thursday that the town would become one of the first eco-towns in the country, meaning their green dreams have taken a giant step closer to becoming reality...
However, one stumbling block still to be removed is when the Ministry of Defence will move training facilities from Bordon to South Wales under the Metrix Consortium plans to create a new technical training college....

Following last week's eco-town announcement, rumours started circulating that further delays to the Metrix project could cause problems for the Bordon and Whitehill plans, which rely on the release of the vacated MoD land.

But a government minister told the Bordon Post this week that the Metrix deal is on track and is expected to be signed next summer. The minister for the Armed Forces, Bill Rammell, told the Post: "The MoD remains committed to the Defence Training Review (DTR) and a great deal of progress has already been made."... no mention of the unafforability of the project..which has still to get planning permission.

Speaking about what will happen once the contracts have been signed he added: "After this point, the School of Electro-Mechanical Engineering (SEME) in Bordon will transfer to the MoD St Athan site in Wales.

"However, until the final contracts are signed, it would not be sensible to make the site available to become an eco-town." In his statement he also confirmed that training at Bordon would not move completely until after at least 2014....

The bid for eco-town status has been led by East Hampshire District Council and the Whitehill and Bordon Opportunity Executive Group.

Council leader Ferris Cowper welcomed last week's announcement by the Government and stressed that any delays to MoD training facilities moving out of the town would not slow down the development of the eco-town plans...............

What has Privatising military training got do with eco towns?


The financing of the DTR (defence training review) site has been rocked by the shaky economy. The Metrix led consortium had planned to fund the project through the sale of surplus MoD land but with the housing market hitting rock bottom, predicted revenues are now substantially less than first believed. Rising inflation has led to a ballooning of costs to £12bn. (1)


There was an article in the telegraph in June Government in line to make millions from selling Ministry of Defence land for eco-towns By Vikki Miller and Patrick Hennessy, Political Editor 29/06/2008 “The truth behind Gordon Brown's flagship eco-town policy can be disclosed, with the Government set to raise millions from the schemes while watering down their green credentials. The Sunday Telegraph can report that the Treasury stands to make about £275million through land sales, because six out of the 15 shortlisted sites are on property either sold or earmarked for sale by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Critics claim the Government is forcing the unpopular eco-towns on the public to make more money from the land and say the process by which the final locations are to be selected is flawed, because ministers will have a vested interest in choosing the MoD sites.”


A similar story appeared in the Independent on the same day. Eco-towns could net Treasury £275m By Sadie Gray Sunday, 29 June 2008 (2) "Government plans for new eco-towns could make £275m fo the Treasury in land sales, as almost half the shortlisted sites are on MoD land marked for disposal. Five eco-towns are to be built by 2016 and a further five by 2020. Of 15 potential sites, six are on MoD land that is either for sale or has already been sold. Critics claim that ministers charged with deciding on the locations will have a vested interest in picking the MoD sites, according to The Sunday Telegraph.


In the case of the former Royal Engineers depot at Long Marston, the Government stands to make up to £84m from a clawback agreement giving it 50 per cent of the land's increased value if chosen for an eco-town. MoD clawback clauses typically demand between 30 and 50 per cent. A spokesman for the Communities and Local Government Department said: "If surplus public-sector land is available in the right area, then it is right to consider development on such brownfield sites in preference to the green belt."


SOUTH EAST ENGLAND DEVELOPMENT AGENCY BOARD MEETING ON 19th JUNE 2008 ITEM 8 Eco Town Proposals in the South East

SOUTH EAST ENGLAND DEVELOPMENT AGENCY tells us that the Green Town Vision proposals to expand the town onto the MoD site (which predate the eco town initiative), have been developed over a number of years ...(3)


....Whitehill / Bordon is a garrison town where the Ministry of Defence presence makes a large contribution to supporting the local economy and social fabric. The MoD have announced their departure as part of the Defence Training Review (estimated date 2012-2015, possibly phased). The town will be hugely sensitive to the withdrawal, which will exacerbate issues of economic activity rates, unemployment, housing mix and quality and social cohesion.

The Green Town Vision proposals to expand the town onto the MoD site (which predate the eco town initiative), have been developed over a number of years with full public consultation, and have strong community support. Up to 5500 homes and between 2800-5600 jobs are proposed.

Handy idea to use a bit of greenwash to try and sell some land that isn’t moving

But the government insist the eco towns and the proposed privatisation of military training will go ahead as planned. They didn’t factor in the credit crunch. Both projects are now almost certainly doomed.


(1) http://www.antimetrix.org/2008/09/leaked-mod-memo-bad-news-for-st-athan.html
(2) http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ecotowns-could-net-treasury-163275m-856667.html

(3) www.seeda.co.uk/About_SEEDA/Board_members/board_meetings/papers/June2008/Item8-EcoTownsBoardReport.doc


DCLG denies weekend eco-town reports
Regen.net (subscription), UK -
... that officials at the DCLG have concluded only 'one or two' of the 15 shortlisted projects are genuinely viable. It said the Eco-Towns Challenge. ...
CLG claims eco-towns are on track Inside Housing
Government vows to push on with eco-towns despite credit crunch Birmingham Post
Collapse of eco-towns plan denied Local Government Chronicle
Public Servant Online

...............................................

St Modwen and co-developers the Bird Group have already announced their intention to make Middle Quinton one of the most sustainable communities in the country, if they get Government approval to turn the 600-acre former MOD depot into an eco-town.

.................................
The majority of residents in the small village of Long Marston are thought to be against building an eco-town on disused MoD land nearby.

Government paid charity to produce eco-town 'fact' leaflets

07/09/2008 00:32AM BST | By Vikki Miller | News | Relevance: 92.69%

Government paid charity to produce eco-town 'fact' leaflets. Gordon Brown's eco-towns scheme was embroiled in new controversy last night as a housing charity admitted it had been paid to produce information leaflets setting out the Government's case.. ..
Bordon Area Action Group http://baaga.co.uk/othersites.aspx

Middle Quinton www.bardcampaign.org
Curborough www.factinfo.co.uk
Weston Otmoor www.westonfront.com




21/07/2009

Huge interchange at Weycocks Cross

Following his rejection of the Airport Access Road (great!) Ieuan Wyn could be persuaded to tell his St Athan team to scrap the crazy extravagant spending on roads (the huge interchange at Weycocks Cross, scaled to fit a new Airport Highway) and substitute a new rail halt at West Camp/Boverton, in the
planning application submitted to the Vale Council.

20/07/2009

troops inferior training witn new Metrix PFI


Army top brass say so!

Private Eye points out that privatising defence training could turn out to be one of labours more toxic legacies, so does MoD. “Documents produced following a recent meeting of the “defence training review executive board” reveal that the project, under which training will be handed to the Metrix PFI poses catastrophic risks on the front line.”

A confidential “post meeting readout” of deliberations led by deputy chief of defence staff Vice Admiral Peter Wilkinson .. 15 significant risks with the project, including some that will fill the military on engagements around the world with dread. “trained output fails to meet requirement of operational commands” is one of them, on the grounds that “there is a risk that Metrix will not be able to ... deliver the numbers of suitably trained personnel that are required and/or that the training output is not to a sufficiently high standard.
http://www.antimetrix.org/2008/07/military-academy-phoney-consultation.html

17/07/2009

Airport Road bad news for Metrix

MP criticises airport road decision
WalesOnline - United Kingdom
Vale of Glamorgan MP John Smith said a new road is needed to serve not just the airport, but also the £12bn Defence Technical College planned for St Athan. ...


Dropping our defences? « David Jones, MP
By David Jones
This is what the local MP, John Smith, had to say at last May's Welsh Grand Committee: We must ensure that the infrastructure is right for the people of west Wales and mid-Wales, so that we have easy access to and from the site. ...


Welsh Ramblings: Tory Hypocrites
By Welsh Ramblings
Similarly, the Vale of Glamorgan Labour AM Jane Hutt campaigned against the link road, while Labour MP John Smith was calling for one. Mixed messages from the British parties as usual. A shift of emphasis away from building new roads ...
Welsh Ramblings - http://welshramblings.blogspot.com/

Syniadau
...
David Jones seems to want it both ways at the same time. For example he quotes Vale of Glamorgan MP John Smith as saying, "If that road is not built, the college will still open ... " but then goes on to say, "The announcement [about the link road] will undoubtedly cause uncertainty over the future of the St Athan project."

16/07/2009

WAG to pay £12.5 m pound for NEWT clearance

First part of Defence College gets go-ahead even though it is unaffordable...the government is still pouring money in to this project or money pit. Peter Collins fails to mention this or how much subsidy the war profiteers are getting. The Government has offered Metrix an additional £44m of state guarantees – in effect promising to pay for preparatory work even if it scraps the deal. There is also a requirement for MOD to deliver a clear site at St Athan before construction work can begin.
The Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) have agreed to fund clearance of the site, with a pre-Financial Close maximum expenditure of £12.5M. WAG is, however, unwilling to
start work prior to Financial Close unless this work is underwritten by MOD lest the Defence Training College fails to reach Financial Close.

http://www.antimetrix.org/2009/07/x-money-pit-qinetiq-consortium-denies.html


Note this weeks private Eye article DEBT Knell

As experts draw up lists of defence projects to scrap in order to fill the multi-million-pound black hole that is the Ministry of Defence, officials are quietly pressing on with the planned £12bn privatisation of military training even though they know it is unaffordable.

More than 2 years ago the then armed forces minister Des Browne admitted he was privatising
defence training because the up-front investment needed could only be met if it was kept
off-balance sheet by using the private finance initative (even though PFI costs more in the long run - see Eye 1177) . This meant that companies had to buy the buildings and rent them back to the MoD, complete with the training of soldiers, sailors and air crew.

A read out from an MoD meeting seen by the Eye now reveals that the project is looking unaffordable precisely because it is a PFI deal. "Currently there is a £1.3bn affordability issue in the programme," an offical reports. "The problem is borrowing at a reasonable rate for PFI".
The amount needed can not be met from the £2bn "infrastructure fund" the government has already agreed to lend to struggling PFI deals, as this is largely earmarked for schools and hospitals .

The deal, due to kick off next autumn, isn't helped by trouble with one area of military training that is to be brought in but is already privatised: naval training at HMS Sultan. Essential information from there can't be obtained "due to their ongoing political issue with [private consortium] VT Flagship" Not surprisingly the official reports gloomily: "Currently planned programme will be hard to achieve"

But the MoD is determined to press ahead, going back to parliament for approval for a further £44m in "pre-contract allocation" to cover the escalating costs of the Metrix consortium (Qinetiq, Sodexo, Raytheon, EDS, and others), without which "Mx [Metrix] could walk away, although it is anticipated that they will not". Very encouraging.

First part of Defence College gets go-ahead
July 15 2009 by Peter Collins, South Wales Echo

THE first major development which will make way for the £12bn Defence
Technical College (DTC) at St Athan has been approved.

Sodexo, one of the partners in the Metrix Consortium behind the college
scheme, has been granted planning permission to move the School of Technical
Training from its site at the former RAF base’s East Camp. The school will
be moved to another part of the camp, paving the way for the training
college.

Great crested newts which currently occupy the site will also have to be
moved, with a mass capture likely next spring.

Planning permission for the college development has yet to be granted. A
decision is expected in November and the fact that Vale of Glamorgan
councillors have agreed to the school’s relocation is seen as a vote of
confidence in the project.

The school, which provides military technically training for new recruits,
will also be extended. This will allow training to continue on the site
while the proposed new DTC is built.

The proposals are for the temporary relocation for a period of five years,
after which the proposed DTC development will have taken over the school’s
training role.

St Athan Community Council had no objections to the development. Environment
Agency Wales also had no objections, provided close contact is maintained
with the Countryside Council for Wales to ensure the newts were protected.

Rob Thomas, the Vale council’s chief planner, said: “The need for such
development is accepted, in principle, in response to the proposed new
Defence Technical College proposals.

“The re-use of the buildings for the school will have no material impact on
the local area.”

In general, the buildings to be relocated and constructed will be sited
centrally within the enclave, forming part of a grouping of buildings well
away from the site boundary and largely out of view.

Sodexo said: “A licence will be sought for the translocation of all the
great crested newts from the East Camp area into the ponds to the south of
the runway, following the granting of a planning permission for the main DTC
development.

“The programme will be to capture and move the newts, including those in the
water tank adjacent to the school planning application site, in the spring
of 2010 when the majority of the population is likely to be present in their
breeding habitat.

“All newts captured on East Camp would be translocated to St John’s Valley,
to the south of the runway, where nine new mitigation ponds were constructed
in 2007 for this purpose.”

John Smith, MP for the Vale of Glamorgan, said: “The St Athan project is
making good progress.

“This planning decision is a positive step forward in the development and
delivery of the Defence Technical College.”

15/07/2009

Road to METRIX PFI military camp scrapped

Greens' joy as relief road is scrapped

South Wales Argus - ‎43 minutes ago‎
However, the Conservatives attacked the decision not to go ahead with the M4 relief road or a new road to Cardiff Airport. Shadow economy minister David ...

Newport M4 diversion plan abandoned

WalesOnline - ‎2 hours ago‎
Business leaders are expected to be unhappy about the decision to scrap the Gwent Levels motorway, which has been seen as a solution to traffic congestion....

History DEC 07

Can the Vale Cope with Defence Academy project without funds for new roads?

‘Act now on airport road’ – call by the Vale MP

Vale MP, John Smith, is calling for action to ease congestion at Culverhouse Cross and improve roads to Cardiff International Airport and the planned Defence Training Academy at St Athan. Mr Smith said: “While I recognise the need for a long-term solution in the form of a direct link from the M4 to the airport and the Defence Academy, there is need for immediate action. I shall be writing to the Welsh Assembly Government as part of its consultation on improving access to Cardiff International Airport, urging them to examine the possibility of improvements to the present airport access route from junction 33 of the M4 via Culverhouse Cross through north Barry and to the Airport and St Athan. “I believe there is an urgent need for a dedicated route to Barry skirting the western side of Culverhouse Cross. “This would provide vital breathing space while a new long-term solution is built from the M4 to the airport and the Defence Academy,” the MP insisted.

Copyright Tindle Newspapers Ltd 07 December 07



STATEMENT BY THE WELSH ASSEMBLY GOVERNMENT

Title:
National Transport Plan
Date:

15 July 2009
By:

Ieuan Wyn Jones, Deputy First Minister & Minister for the Economy and Transport

I am pleased to present for consultation the National Transport Plan, the Welsh Assembly Government’s first comprehensive plan for delivering an integrated transport system.
Assembly Members will recall that last year I published the Welsh Assembly Government’s first ever Wales Transport Strategy: Connecting the Nation.
The plan which is presented to you today details the action we intend to take in line with that strategy – and it is based on three key principles:
- to meet the demand for enhanced mobility to enable economic growth and to improve the quality of life we seek for the people of Wales.
- to put transport onto a more sustainable and less carbon-intensive path
- and to use transport funding more effectively in light of increasing pressures on public finances
I am very grateful to the Ministerial Advisory Group, led by Richard Parry-Jones, for their advice on the transport network and I have accepted the vast majority of their recommendations.
Transport is a consistent thread that contributes to the success of many Welsh Assembly Government strategies. Newly acquired powers have given us the opportunity to use that thread to weave together the patchwork of transport provision across the nation, from roads to railways, and buses to bicycles.
But there is more we must do. We must work towards a decarbonised transport system, where people are able to choose healthier and more sustainable modes of travel. That is why we are aiming to increase the number of people walking or cycling. In our programme for Sustainable Travel Towns we will invest in new, and link existing, walking and cycling routes. Across the wider network we have plans to increase the provision of bicycle facilities on trains, at stations and in towns and cities.

We must develop our transport system to ensure that it continues to support economic prosperity, especially when we are faced with the global challenges of an economic downturn, like we are now.
This means a transport system that allows people to access services and removes barriers for people seeking jobs, particularly in less prosperous areas.
The Eddington Report stressed the importance of a long-term strategic outlook, which we have in Connecting the nation.
It also points out that investment should concentrate where economic success has concentrated demand, notably around urban areas, at international gateways and on busy inter-urban corridors where congestion, delay and reliability are already real issues.
In addition, we must also add to this our goal of spreading access to economic prosperity across Wales – particularly to the Convergence areas from the North West to the South Wales Valleys. We must ensure that areas and communities which lag behind because they have been hit by the decline of traditional industries can benefit from a resurgent economy.
The National Transport Plan sets out what we will be doing to firmly put us on the path to delivering the Welsh Assembly Government’s vision, over the next five years.
It is set out in a way that reflects the four main movement corridors in Wales – east-west in the north, mid and south, and north-south. As well as proposals that are relevant across Wales.
The proposals for the main corridors share two aims - to improve the reliability, quality and speed of rail and to improve journey times and safety on the main trunk roads
In the North West the plan outlines how we wish to address network and capacity issues on the A55 which will ensure more reliable journey times and help support the Môn a Menai regeneration programme. The work will include capacity for walkers and cyclists.
In the North East we will identify the most appropriate and sustainable transport solutions to deal with the pressures in the area between Wrexham Chester and Deeside.
Our programme of continued improvements to the North/South rail services will also improve east/west rail journeys in this region. We are committed to develop plans to enhance the capacity of the section of rail between Shrewsbury and Chester via Wrexham – enabling all north-South services to be routed through Wrexham.
Our aim in terms of North/South links is to increase dramatically the proportion of journeys that are made by public transport through improving rail travel and the TrawsCambria bus network. Over time we will see a better service, covering more communities in greater comfort.
Across Wales we have plans that will bring to an end the need for different tickets for different bus and rail journeys in Wales. A Welsh Transport Entitlement Card will offer people the ability to have one ticket for their journey.
In terms of North/South road links I have outlined my priorities in the trunk road programme – with improvements being made to the A470, the A487 and the A483 and the completion of the Ceredigion link road.
We are also examining opportunities for using “2 plus 1” lanes and passing lanes to improve North/South journey times, reliability and safety for cars, public transport, walkers and cyclists.
Improving connectivity in Mid Wales, including east/west links, is an important factor if we are to enhance the vibrancy of towns and villages in these rural areas.
Work will be complete next year to enhance the Cambrian Lines by providing additional passing loops. This will allow us to introduce hourly services between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury. We will also develop plans to introduce additional services on the Heart of Wales line.
Many of the improvements to the main road arteries in Mid Wales were outlined in the trunk road programme but we will also work with the UK Government to deliver the intervention identified for the A458.

In terms of East/ West rail links in South Wales we are working with the UK Government and the rail industry to improve rail services, particularly the Great Western Mail Line between Swansea and London with the ultimate goal of securing the electrification of the line as part of a high speed rail network,
The Transport plan commits to increasing the capacity of the Valley Lines – with additional platforms, carriages and services. This is in addition to the £3.2 million we are contributing to the new park and ride spaces along the South Wales rail routes. We also intend to integrate the development of cycle routes through the South-East valleys.

In Newport we will complete both the redevelopment of the rail station and the improvement to Gaer junction to enable direct rail services between Ebbw Vale and Newport by 2011 – a crucial development for the Heads of the Valleys regeneration scheme.
Further West we will redouble the railway line between Gowerton and Lougher.
On the South Wales road network we will complete improvements to the A465 Heads of the Valleys road by 2020 adhering to the exact timetable I inherited. We will also start a programme of works to reduce journey times on the A40 and the A477. We will also fund the completion of the Port Talbot Peripheral Distributor Road to reduce congestion on the M4 and the Church Village by-pass.
As members know the Welsh Assembly Government wants to improve access to Cardiff airport. We have consulted on a number of potential schemes. Following a study on potential routes to the Airport which highlighted the limited economic benefits to the Airport itself, when compared to the cost of the scheme, and concerns around the environmental impact I am announcing we will not be taking forward these proposals. Instead we will invest in improvements to the A4226 Five Mile Lane which will help ease traffic movement at Weycock Cross and will improve the safety of the road.
I can also announce that we will improve public transport access to Cardiff Airport, by creating more frequent bus and train services connecting the airport and Cardiff – as well as providing more convenient and regular trains between Bridgend and Barry.
The National Transport Plan sets out how we will resolve issues of capacity, safety and resilience along the M4 corridor in south-east Wales.
In 2004 the Wales Spatial Plan identified the need to increase transport capacity along the M4 corridor. Subsequently the New M4 scheme was included in the trunk road forward programme. The estimated cost of the scheme at that time was £340 million and the intention was that it would be taken forward as a public-private partnership, built with private finance which would be recovered through tolling.
Today, the cost of constructing the new M4 scheme with VAT and potential inflaction is estimated to be in the region of 1 billion pounds which means that the project has become unaffordable. The business case demonstrates that tolling the new M4, whilst other routes remain free to use, would significantly reduce the economic, environmental and social benefits of the project. Tolling of the new M4 alone would not raise the funds necessary for the scheme, and tolling both roads, in addition to the toll on the Severn crossings, would damage the attractiveness of South Wales for investment. We have therefore decided that other methods of addressing the safety and capacity issues on the existing route and other routes parallel with it represent better value for money and we will not to be implementing the Relief Road scheme.

We do however accept the need to urgently address safety and capacity issues on the existing route and today I can announce that this work will be accelerated. Over the next two years we will seek to introduce a range of measures which will include:
  • New rail facilities and stations within the Newport area and the introduction of Park and Ride sites throughout south-east Wales.
  • Improvements and modifications to motorway junctions to ease the movement of local traffic whilst ensuring long-distance traffic flows freely.
  • Enhancements and improvements to the local road network, combined with a focus on local travel planning
Through these measures we will seek to tackle congestion around the Tredegar Park area and reduce the traffic flows through the Brynglas Tunnels. We will also explore making considerable improvements to the steelworks access road and the Southern Distributor Road. In terms of improving safety, we will install concrete central reserve barriers and introduce a controlled motorway infrastructure between junctions 24 and 29.
My message to businesses and the wider community is that this Government is committed to reducing congestion, restoring capacity and reliability to this absolutely vital East/West corridor. And today we are pledging to do so in a way which is financially and environmentally sustainable as well as improving the resilience of the road with urgency.
Transport plays a crucial role in uniting our country and ensuring economic prosperity but we must get the balance right. We are no longer just being warned about climate change – we are starting to experience the impact. And the period of economic growth that many of us have enjoyed has ended with a jolt that we have all felt.
It is therefore important to be measured in our response.
This sustainable, integrated transport plan will contribute to economic recovery; it will help people get to jobs and access services and facilities where they might have struggled without a car.
The Plan will also help us to deliver our contribution to the environment, particularly our targets for emissions reductions and create a sustainable, integrated transport system fit for 21st century Wales.

Bilingual copies of the National Transport Plan
<> <>
MA

07/07/2009

John Smith MP dodgy poll on airport road

Support NEVAR No Ely Valley Airport Road -

John Smith is promoting this road to the airport for the benefit of the proposed military college PFI
- Ieuan W-Jones promised July announcement keeps getting delayed -
perhaps the WAG are wating for the recess to sneak it through without debate.

I have been told..that

John Smith is persisting in interfering in Assembly business by running his own web poll on
This is not a matter for which John Smith has any mandate to interfere, the Welsh Assembly Government has already spent 2 million pounds of tax-payers' money on a 'Public Consultation' exercise to determine the level of public support for the road, which is supposed to be for "Airport Access", and John Smith has conspicuously failed to notify his own constituents in affected areas of the existence of this poll.

As far as we know the vote is still open, but we are suspicious that it has been rigged. Every time the 'NO' vote reached 54% there was a suspiciously sudden leap in the 'YES' votes as if to balance the figures, and since this morning, when the 'NO' vote had reached 66% overnight (we do have supporters on every continent!) it is denying access. Somebody did comment that we should warn Smith about repetitive strain injury in his delicate state of health. Perhaps he just pulled the pin in exasperation.

I can't get on to the poll -can you?

About the campaign against the airport road..

No Ely Valley Airport Road (NEVAR)[1] is a group of residents, from Pendoylan and Peterston-super-Ely, that was established at a public meeting called by the Community Council and held in Pendoylan War Memorial Hall on 29 July 2008. Their remit is the co-ordination of opposition to the creation of any new link road between junction 34 of the M4 motorway and the A48 likely to disturb the rural character of the Vale. This includes all three options outlined as ‘Corridor C’ in the Ove Arup Report published in 2008.


A beautiful stretch of the River Ely runs south, then east from near Junction 34 of the M4 motorway. It separates the communities of Pendoylan to the east and Peterston-super-Ely to the west and its banks constitute Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Pendoylan and Peterston both contain Conservation Areas, part of whose defined qualities include uninterrupted views of unspoiled rural landscape.

The Welsh Assembly Government is proposing a major new trunk road that would run south from junction 34 to Sycamore Cross on the A48 road as one of three possible corridors for improving access to Cardiff International Airport. The proposed road would cut a swathe through the middle of the parish of Pendoylan, being three lanes wide and running on embankments up to 8m (26’) high in the valley and in cuttings in the hillside. It is expected to increase the traffic six-fold from the current 2,000 vehicles per day.



06/07/2009

Metrix money pit - WAG find £12.5M

FT.com
Qinetiq consortium denies £1.3bn hole
By Jeremy Lemer
Published: July 5 2009 22:41

The consortium behind a £12bn training programme for the military, one of Britain’s largest private finance initiatives, has denied that there is a £1.3bn hole in the project’s funding.

According to a Ministry of Defence memo leaked to Mark Pritchard, Conservative MP for The Wrekin, crisis talks were held at the department last month to discuss a plan to centralise technical training in Wales.

“Currently there is a £1.3bn affordability issue in the programme; the problem is borrowing money at a reasonable rate for PFIs,” the memo says.

But Metrix, the Qinetiq-led consortium behind the scheme, said the affordability issues had been resolved and separate negotiations with banks were at an early stage.

Since it was awarded in January 2007, the 25-year programme (privatise military training)
to concentrate specialist engineering and IT training at St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan has been repeatedly delayed and much criticised.

The MoD has admitted that agreeing an affordable contract has been more
difficult than expected.

Meanwhile, the credit crunch has taken its toll. Last year turmoil in the
debt markets forced Metrix to drop plans for a £1bn bond issue.

Both sides insist that the ambitious project remains on track and the final
decision on whether to go ahead will be pushed back until after the summer
parliamentary recess.

The delay would “allow further analysis ... in order to ensure best value
for money”, the MoD said.

Government has offered Metrix an additional £44m of state guarantees – in effect promising to pay for preparatory work even if it scraps the deal.

Metrix has called its “fallback” plan “part of good project governance”.

So far the MoD has offered almost £100m of guarantees to Metrix.

Metrix said the guarantees gave it the “confidence” to move ahead with vital
preparations for construction and training, and would allow building to
start in the autumn of 2010.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009
An MoD spokesperson:

Underwriting the cost of this project is sensible and prudent
business practice and is focused on risk reduction activity.

Rosalind Britton-Elliott

Press Officer - Policy Desk
Ministry of Defence

T: 020 7218 5903


DEPARTMENTAL MINUTE DATED 26 JUNE 2009 CONCERNING THE REPORTING
OF
A CONTINGENT LIABILITY FOR THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH THE
DEFENCE
TRAINING REVIEW

It is normal practice, when a Government Department proposes
to
undertake a contingent liability in excess of £250,000 for
which
there is no specific statutory authority, for the
Department
concerned to present to Parliament a Minute giving
articulars
of the liability created and explaining the
circumstances; and
to refrain from incurring the liability
until fourteen
Parliamentary sitting days after the issue
of the Minute, except in cases of special urgency.

The Defence Training Review Package 1 Project is a large
and
complex Private Finance Initiative project, with the
Metrix Consortium
as Preferred Bidder. It seeks to transform
the way the Ministry of
Defence (MOD) delivers specialist
engineering and communications and

information systems training on a Defence wide basis to support
better
the future needs of the Armed Forces.

In January 2008 and February 2009, Departmental Minutes
were laid
before Parliament outlining an initial contingent
liability for the
underwriting of elements of Pre-Contract activity
with Metrix. These
existing Pre-Contract Agreement Letters
PCAL1 and PCAL1a),
underwrite risk reduction activity up to a
maximum value of £49.9M.

At the time this was considered sufficient to carry the
project to the
main investment decision point, however,
whilst PCAL1 and PCAL1a achieved

their strategic objectives in generating the momentum
necessary to
establish an affordable and acceptable
programme, further risk

reduction activity is necessary to mature the deal and
maintain the
mobilisation of Metrix resources to ensure
the most effective
programme to the point at which
the Contract is let.

In order to maintain this momentum another,
further, package of risk reduction activity (PCAL2)
valued at £43.793M is proposed.
This
work is predominantly focused around the design and
planning of the
estate solution at St Athan, and further
development of the training
solution.
Undertaking these activities ahead of the main investment
point
will enable Metrix to start construction at St Athan on
time in August
2010. Further development of the training
solution will build
customer confidence in the training solution,
allowing quicker and
more efficient drawdown of military
manpower after Financial Close.



The costs of these risk reduction activities are to be recovered
through the tendered contract and are already captured within
the
Metrix price. Provided that the Programme reaches
Financial Close,
the costs will be paid from within the
planned budget at no
additional charge to MoD.
The MoD will only become liable to

reimburse the underwritten value of these costs if there
is a
failure to achieve Financial Close for a reason not
attributable
to Metrix. This commitment will be subject to a
clear Limit of
Liability, in total and by specific activity area,
with any
reimbursement of costs subject to
verification of actual costs incurred supported by open book
provisions. Initial commitment will cover a 3 month period and be
subject to a reduced Limit of Liability. Although subject to
negotiation, this initial limit is expected to be no more than
15M reflecting the rate of resource consumption required to
support
planned activities in this period. Should this
liability be called,
provision for any payment will be sought
through the normal
Supply procedure.

There is also a requirement for MOD to deliver a clear site at St Athan
before construction work can begin.
The Welsh Assembly Government

(WAG) have agreed to fund clearance of the site,
with a pre-Financial
Close maximum expenditure
of £12.5M. WAG is, however, unwilling to

start work prior to Financial Close unless this
work is underwritten by

MOD lest the Defence TrainingCollege
fails to reach Financial Close.


The Treasury has approved the proposal in principle. If,
during the
period of fourteen Parliamentary sitting days
beginning on the date on
which this Minute was laid before
Parliament, a Member signifies an
objection by giving notice
of a Parliamentary Question or by otherwise
raising
the matter in Parliament,
final approval to proceed with
incurring the liability will be
withheld pending an examination of the
objection.
MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

01/07/2009

Councillor expresses concern over defence college noise levels



Councillor expresses concern over defence college noise levels

Friday, 26 June 2009

A FLEMINGSTON councillor is questioning the small print of plans for the military training complex at St Athan – and says that noise levels could be a major problem.
The Vale Council is currently considering the extensive planning application for the Defence Training College (DTC), and the public are being invited to express their views.
Coun Roger Eustace told The GEM: “There has been much local support for the DTC, but the previous public consultations and exhibitions made little mention of the type of military training – which was always presented as low level.
“The goalposts have now changed.”

Coun Eustace can see problems ahead from a number of areas, with noise a major concern.
He said: “There will be a significant adverse impact upon the local communities from military activities, which include engine running, tank pad and road from 2014, flightline with up to three military jet aircraft training on northern cross runway for up to four hours per day (Monday to Friday), Picketston firing range and Picketston field training area.”
He said: “Section 16.15 of the application confirms that the significant detrimental noise levels from the engine running will affect properties to the south of Boverton; and ground noise sources from core activities will affect properties to the west of Llantwit Road (Briarbank) and Boverton Mill Farm in 2014 and 2020.
“There will be a significant increase in road traffic noise due to additional development-related traffic on existing and new roads, and the cumulative effect of ambient noise levels due to change in airfield uses, field training and road traffic will affect Broadway Nursing Home and other areas.”
Coun Eustace is concerned that Picketston Firing Range (document 16, pages 93 – 96) will be in use most of day from 8.30am – 4.30pm, with eight lanes that could be in use at any one time, with 40-minute sessions using 40 rounds on each lane.
There is an existing firing range, but at present it is used quite sparingly. However, when the defence college is running to capacity, there will be a big increase. The nearest properties are in the New Barn Road area.
He said: “There will also be firing during the hours of darkness, but sessions will be less frequent and involve 10 rounds on each lane. Where possible, firing will cease before 11pm.

“The range will also be used for armament testing, including 5.56mm minigun and the larger calibre general purpose machine gun. These will be used two or three times a month for half a day, and would typically comprise four or five bursts per weapon”
He continued: “A typical training day at Picketston Field Training Area (document 16, pages 96-97) will be 8.30am – 5.30pm, but blank firing of weapons will also arise outside these hours, and would be undertaken before 11pm, where possible.
“The area will mainly be used for ambush training comprising noisy initial demonstrations followed by a few hours of dry drills. Typically, there will be eight demonstrations per day consisting of two Land Rovers being ambushed by one or two thunder flashes, with possibly blank small arms fire from SA80 rifles up to 30 rounds
“Acoustic fencing and bunding will be installed, but there will still be a medium to high magnitude effect on neighbouring properties.”
Coun Eustace concluded: “This extension of activities must be resisted for the sake of the local communities. The public consultation ends soon and I urge residents to register their views with the Vale Council through community or town councils.”

Minigun - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia