Translogistics News

Revolutionizing Road Freight: UK’s Major Leap Towards Sustainable eHGVs with ?6.2 Million Investment

The dawn of a new era in road freight is upon us, with the UK government's recent expansion of its funding scheme for vehicle-to-everything (V2X) projects, marking a pivotal moment in the transport industry's shift towards sustainability. Spearheaded by Kaasai Services Ltd, ZevHub Ltd, and Project Better Energy Ltd, an ambitious electric heavy goods vehicle (eHGV) project has been launched, receiving a significant funding boost of GBP1,404,414, elevating the total government investment across all projects to an impressive GBP6.2 million. This initiative not only aims to demonstrate the economic viability of eHGVs but also seeks to make them more affordable than their diesel counterparts through innovative V2X technologies.

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Integrating Innovation for a Greener Tomorrow

At the heart of this groundbreaking project lies the integration of Kaasai's advanced digital platform with Project Better Energy's bi-directional chargers, and ZevHub's robust charging infrastructure, enabling efficient vehicle-to-grid (V2G) services.

This strategic collaboration is designed to harness V2X technologies for load-balancing, frequency stabilisation, and resilience, thereby facilitating a seamless transition to a more sustainable and low-carbon energy ecosystem. The initiative is poised to leverage smart charging technologies and the utilization of renewable energy sources, such as solar power, to revolutionize the road freight sector.

Case Study: Veolia's V2G Trial Success

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A shining example of the potential of V2G technology is the successful trial by waste collection fleet operator Veolia, which is on a mission to electrify all its 1,800 Refuse Collection Vehicles (RCV) by 2040. This trial underscores the significant flexible power capacity that V2G technology can provide to the national grid, offering a glimpse into the future of electric fleet operations.

Veolia's commitment to electrification aligns with the broader goals of the eHGV project, further validating the transformative impact of V2X technologies on the transport industry.

Looking Ahead: The Road to Net Zero

The eHGV project, along with the wider adoption of V2X technologies, represents a critical step forward in the UK's journey towards achieving net zero emissions.

As the project unfolds, it promises not only to redefine the economic landscape of road freight but also to significantly reduce the environmental footprint of heavy goods transportation.

With the UK government's substantial investment and the collaborative efforts of industry leaders, the future of road freight looks brighter and greener, paving the way for a sustainable transport ecosystem that benefits both the economy and the planet.

Road freight firm marks first anniversary in Dublin

Watch more of our videos on Shots! and live on Freeview channel 276

Visit Shots! now[1]

According to the Irish Exporters Association[2] (IEA), despite being fur years on since an agreed trade deal was established in preparation for Brexit, trading arrangements between the Republic of Ireland[3] and the UK are not as seamless as they once were. Addressing this issue, Europa Road - based set up its eight-person strong team in Dublin early in 2023, to provide local sales and customer service support for local businesses. Since then, the team, led by Branch Manager Elliot Watts[4], has grown its local customer base from a standing start and has invested in services, which includes a market-leading Money Back Guarantee, to achieve a frictionless movement of goods for Irish exporters.

Jamie Hedgecox[5], Europa Road Regional Manager said: "It's been a challenging few years for Irish businesses wanting to export to the EU who have had to navigate the additional administration and border controls in place post-Brexit.

Europa's Dublin teamEuropa's Dublin teamEuropa's Dublin team

"As a result, many were choosing to move their goods direct from Ireland to ports in the EU, as opposed to using the land bridge, which was causing longer transit times and significant delays to deliveries. "To provide a better infrastructure for exporters in the Republic, Europa set up its Dublin office. The branch complements Europa's Belfast branch, established in 2018 to show that despite challenges, goods could still be efficiently moved between the UK, Northern Ireland[6], Republic of Ireland and the rest of the EU.

"Our 1Hub in Dartford, the largest groupage hub in the UK, provides the most cost-efficient way for companies in Ireland to send goods across to mainland Europe. Added to which, the speed and the consistency of the transit times via this route have led us to apply our Money Back Guarantee[7] against it." Europa provides daily services inbound from Dublin to Holyhead, bringing around 300 trailers of goods a year across the Irish Sea.

This Guarantee, which came into force in May 2023, offers financial reassurance to local businesses during a time where soaring costs are creating uncertainty for Irish businesses[8]. Adrian Redmile[9], Branch and Sales Director at Europa Worldwide Group said: "Europa Road's mantra has always been centred around adapting to market changes quickly to provide the best support for our customers. We are the only logistics provider in Ireland operating with Money Back Guarantee on road consignments, meaning we are ideally and uniquely placed to ensure the continued international flow of goods for our Irish customers - as well as UK and European customers importing into Ireland.

"In an area where we had no local presence previously the team has thrived, having just celebrated its most successful month for volume of consignments after just one year. We have also increased our sales team to continue the search for Irish exporters needing greater support. It's great to know we have the knowledge and expertise of such a dynamic, dedicated and highly experienced team, led by Jamie and Elliot, and we're delighted to be celebrating this successful first year and look forward to seeing what's to come for 2024."

Europa Worldwide Group is an ambitious independent logistics operator with three divisions, Europa Road, Europa Air & Sea, and Europa Warehouse, and has been featured in The Sunday Times Top Track 250 for three years.

Europa has invested GBP5 million in its innovative market-leading product, Europa Flow, providing a frictionless flow of goods between the EU and the UK post Brexit.

The group employs over 1,400 people with 29 international sites in the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Europe, Hong Kong, China and the UAE.

References

  1. ^ Visit Shots! now (www.shotstv.com)
  2. ^ Irish Exporters Association (irishexporters.ie)
  3. ^ Republic of Ireland (www.northernirelandworld.com)
  4. ^ Elliot Watts (go.skimresources.com)
  5. ^ Jamie Hedgecox (go.skimresources.com)
  6. ^ Northern Ireland (www.northernirelandworld.com)
  7. ^ Money Back Guarantee (www.europa-worldwide.com)
  8. ^ uncertainty for Irish businesses (www.irishtimes.com)
  9. ^ Adrian Redmile (go.skimresources.com)

Reflections on the Freeport meeting: will the Plymouth Freeport become an electoral issue for South Devon?

Blue-shaded area = Plymouth and South Devon Freeport area Image @stanfontan[1]

Friday 17 November saw the West Country Voices live debate on Plymouth & South Devon Freeport. Held within the spectacular St Mary's Church in Totnes, the event was attended by around 80 people in person and an even larger number online. The livestream was not without some problems, but it was an ambitious project, blending remote contributions from the panel (chaired by George Monbiot), freeport researcher, David Powell (based in The Hague) and questions from the audience.

It was an event put on in the public interest, at expense and effort from an independent citizen news provider and, as such, should be applauded. In that one event I felt there was more information and exploration of the Freeport issue than we have had from any public bodies or other regional media. I was a member of the panel for the evening.

I have been investigating the Freeport - as both a resident of South Hams and as a writer (for West Country Voices and the Totnes Pulse amongst other journals). I had been trying to get some straight answers from South Hams on their decision making and involvement for many weeks in the run up to the discussion. As well as answering questions from the audience, I made a statement outlining the research I had conducted and the unanswered questions that remained.

I have always made sure that I research something myself: no matter what others may say or claim on any one issue. I do not claim to 'have knowledge' of a subject unless I have pursued it myself. I do not put my name to other people's ideas or concerns unless I have explored them thoroughly from a sceptical, ground zero, party neutral, evidence based standpoint.

Until I received a copy of the SHDC Corporate Consultation in mid October, my knowledge was scant and I had little to go on, beyond being alerted to 'issues' with Freeports through a public event. I needed to find out for myself. As a result, my findings here are from my own experiences and questioning.

Here is the statement I made at the event on 17 November:

"Just a few weeks ago I read this year's South Hams Council Corporate Strategies. These key documents had surprisingly little to say on what the Council regards as, "one of the largest economic development projects undertaken in South Hams".

But there was a lonely glossy sentence that caught my eye: "Number 7 Primary Aim: to continue to maximise the benefits of the Freeport and the business it brings to our area." We've all been burned by the elusive 'Brexit benefits' so I was puzzled about what these Freeport benefits could be- especially as the Freeport is in its very earliest stages.

I dug deeper - combing through council minutes, agendas, addendums, and I emailed questions to many elements of the Council. I summarise my personal findings here:

  1. Transparency (lack of)
  2. Inconsistency (lots of)
  3. Benefits (still looking)

So let me start first with transparency: What do we residents know?

Personally, four weeks ago I knew very little. I was aware of the odd article on the formation of the Freeport over the past few years, portrayed in mostly glowing terms. Further reading revealed that cash-strapped, service-cutting Devon County Council had put a borrowed GBP15 million into the Freeport.

Cash- strapped, service-cutting South Hams has put in over GBP5 million. Perhaps - as for many of us- that was the full extent of my Freeport knowledge. But few of us - apart from South Hams Councillors - will have seen the picture that emerges from the minutes, council documents and agendas of the past two years:

The huge government pressure applied behind the scenes for Councils to take on the government's ideologically-driven, evidence-thin, Freeport agenda. The ongoing challenges of vanishing government council funding. Veiled subtexts contained deep in council minutes such as this one which says:

"[If the Council were to have no involvement in the Freeport it] would have ramifications with government and partners on other agendas, such as the County Deal." My investigations into the Freeport and South Hams show that someone, somewhere, wanted it to happen very badly. And the government leant on councils to make it happen.

So I started to put what I assumed would be a series of simple questions to the South Hams Council Executive. I have been told to wait until 30 November for a comment from the Council Leader, to be delivered during the time-pressured Council Executive meeting. But with the greatest of respect, I believe residents deserve more than a 'comment'.

In response to my questions, the Council couldn't even give me a simple date for when the South Hams public consultations on the Freeport had happened. I simply received no answer on that (despite asking multiple people, multiple times). My questions uncovered the fact that South Hams and Devon County Council had already signed a legally binding agreement to form the Freeport.

So I asked the Council to clarify the liabilities, costs and damages that could be incurred if they were to withdraw from this already signed agreement. There was no answer on this. My questions did however prompt a response from the Council that there had in fact been concerns and questions raised by Council members about this Freeport partnership.

So I asked the council to clarify what these questions and concerns were, and when they were raised. No answer. My questioning revealed that the Council had now set up a 'Task and Finish group' to report on the risks and benefits of the Freeport.

Puzzled about how it could happen that the Council would retrospectively need to investigate the risks and benefits after already committing to a legally binding agreement, I asked them whether the findings could have any possible impact on withdrawal, partial withdrawal or modification of the agreement already in place. I have had no answer. I asked the Communications team, I asked the Executive and key councillors, I asked the multi-hyphenated 'Directors' at South Hams, I cc'd the CEO.

I was then directed firmly to submit an Environmental Information Request (known as EIR) under Freedom Of Information (known as FOI). The problem is that EIR and FOI should be the last resort- not the first. Councils can easily redact information, or claim 'commercial sensitivity' prevents them from providing it.

South Hams also has a Scheme of Publication which would enable it to freely provide information of all depths, including consultations - if it so wished. One of the most common concerns raised about Freeports is one regarding transparency and scrutiny. The publicly-sanitised published Business Case for the Freeport of course has all 'commercially sensitive' information removed- making it virtually useless.

These issues go right to the heart of the problem with public/private partnerships. In practice, the corporate confidentiality of private companies trumps our public access to information. We have no sight of the Freeport's regulatory and legal protections for environment, planning and rights.

We all know that already the government is dropping regulation at the rate of knots in all aspects of our lives - even human rights law is now a target. All we have regarding the Freeport is the word 'assurance' from the Council. I think we would be wise to demand actual evidence.

Throughout my dealings with South Hams, I have been led to believe that the 'Freeport deal is done.' (Remember this idea of a 'done deal' - it's important for later.) Totnes Town Councillors got the same treatment just a few weeks ago with their first meaningful engagement on the Freeport from South Hams: a slide presentation on the Freeport, followed by questions on what was made clear to be a 'done deal'. So if it is 'done', just how good is this Freeport 'deal' we are signed up to?

Fuzzy language surrounds the South Hams description of the Freeport partnership: the Freeport documentation is peppered with a word salad of Net Zero 'ambition'. South Hams states it is thrilled to have 'an 'opportunity' ... to shape the goals and the work of the Freeport to the priorities of the Council" in which the Council is ""encouraging" the Freeport company to provide comprehensive reports on its activities to the local communities" It's becoming clear to me, at least, who wears the trousers in this legal partnership - and who may have failed to ensure they were wearing any trousers in the first place.

It's also clear that there is no legal obligation for the Freeport to provide comprehensive reports to us. Another question: How was the boundary of the Freeport - that reaches right across Dartmoor - decided?

The Freeport Bidding Prospectus states in relation to the 45km boundary limit: "This means that, unless a very strong case is made [with] clear economic rationale for why the Freeport Outer Boundary is defined as it is [it] will fail the bidding process. Bids judged to be designed simply to maximise the area contained within the Outer Boundary without clear economic rationale [will fail]"

So what was the very strong case that was made forcefully enough to succeed in the Plymouth and South Devon Freeport bid? Will South Hams or Devon County Council let us see this strong economic rationale to include the whole of Dartmoor within the Freeport boundary? There are three sites involved with the Freeport:

The South Yard site - located near the Port The Langage site - in close proximity to the A38 Expressway The Sherford site - located on the opposite side of the Expressway to Langage

There should be no doubt how important Langage is to the whole enterprise. In fact, the Freeport proposal trumpets Langage as its green hydrogen centrepiece. But it seems there are already problems with this site and information on what exactly is happening is scant.

Digging back into Council documents, I found a council report from September 2022 on the Approval of making a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) for Langage land. It states, "The CPO Land at Langage is integral to the success of the Freeport.

As set out in the Freeport [] Full Business Case, the Langage site including the CPO Land cannot be replicated anywhere else. A detailed triangulation of the Freeport... was undertaken at the very start of the Freeport Bid. This showed that the inclusion of South Yard, Sherford and Langage were a) all required to hit minimum area thresholds and b) were the only allocated sites that were policy compliant and deliverable within the timeframes required."

So I think we should be told: what is the timeframe for Langage? Is it falling behind? Is the Compulsory Purchase Order going ahead?

Are there issues with this land? It looks like Langage is holding things up. Because in September '22 there was clearly an issue, and one that demanded the major step of a Compulsory Purchase Order.

So it's clear that Langage is critical to the Freeport, and that without absolute clarity to the contrary from the Council, we should assume that Langage remains a risk. And this also then calls into question the Council's assertion that the Freeport 'is a done deal'. Because on the basis of this Council document, without Langage- there is no Freeport.

The deal is not done until Langage is done. That means we could have problems on multiple fronts with what the Council is or is not letting us know:

  1. Langage could present an existential risk to the Freeport
  2. The Freeport deal may not be 'done' and, therefore, that impression or statement should not be made, as it would be incorrect
  3. What further commitments - financial, planning, capacity and resource - are cash-strapped South Hams and cash-strapped Devon County Council going to have to commit to make Langage actually happen , as it must, to have the Freeport?

And there are further questions, too: Will the Langage site ever deliver the green hydrogen plant that forms the Freeport centrepiece?

There's precious little hard information on this, either. And how are vehicles going to be accessing sites such as Langage? Will it be necessary to build additional roads and structures?

There are cost, planning and environmental considerations- a road has to cross multiple pieces of land. How much delay should we expect? How much is all this delay going to cost- and who will end up paying?

Because time is another issue with the Freeport. The Financial Times reported the news (ahead of the Autumn Statement) that Jeremy Hunt was looking to extend some of the tax breaks for Freeports from 2026 to 2031. [Which he has done. Ed] According to the FT,

"experts, executives and regional leaders were concerned...that the [Freeport] policy as drawn up represented a "cliff edge". Companies that sign up to build premises in a freeport may still take several years to gain planning permission, construct their factories or warehouse and for them to become operational."

Financial Times

It's as if they were talking about Langage itself. Uncertainty is a terrible thing for a highly ambitious economic development project.

It cannot live or die dependent on a government ideology. At the moment the whole Freeport edifice is built on the thin air of tax breaks and favourable business conditions. If governments turn left - what next for the legacy agendas of the hard right?

And meanwhile I am still waiting for an answer from the Council on these elusive Freeport benefits I've enjoyed this year. And now you need to realise something clearly. In the eyes of the Freeport, we are not stakeholders.

Yes, the Freeport involves South Hams land and infrastructure. Yes, it uses (so far) over GBP5 million underwritten by you and me from South Hams and GBP15 million from Devon council. Yes, it involves legal obligations and costs and damages that can be levied against our cash-strapped council.

But us? No. Residents are not technically stakeholders.

Plymouth City Council, Devon County Council and South Hams District Council are. The Universities of Plymouth and Exeter are. Princess Yachts, Carlton Power and Babcock International are.

The Port Operators, the Ministry of Defence are. But you and me? We are not.

The stakeholders have been on the inside of information and documentation on the Freeport all along, for years. And meanwhile, underwriters to this scheme - South Hams Council and Devon County Council - face unprecedented reductions in government funding. On its own website, South Hams states,

"The Council has taken a hard look at where it can save money to keep balancing the books." One might remark that this 'hard look' has been cast more on its residents than the private pockets of the Freeport partnership. Meanwhile, South Hams Members and officers have multi-hyphenated job roles and titles that are so long they require semicolons.

This appropriation of resource and capacity to serve the Freeport makes me wonder if resource and capacity is not serving other council functions or the needs of its residents. In Summary I'm not into conspiracy- just transparency, value for public money, and the desire for clarity on what we should expect from our elected Council leaders.

The levels of dismay amongst residents and Councillors is concerning, and indicates a substantial mishandling of engagement. It's indicative of a lack of meaningful consultation and the transparency that that would have brought. I want to end by quoting from Princess Yachts' website.

For those who don't realise, Princess Yachts are a key, private company in this Freeport 'partnership' whose access to the Freeport's favourable business conditions - who knows- may have contributed to it being snapped up by a US based private equity firm earlier this year. If you go onto their website you are greeted by these words; "Your yacht is an extension of yourself.

A statement of your lifestyle. She needs to deliver unforgettable experiences for you, your family and friends." That's what Princess Yachts are about.

But for the residents of our cash-strapped Councils, their core business and concern is not yachts. The 'extension of ourselves' ,as residents, are our sick relatives, children in care, families living in poverty and substandard housing, a mental health crisis amongst the young, a collapse of social care for people with disabilities, the crumbling of educational infrastructure, the degradation of the environment and vanishing public spaces, the elderly relatives unable to get warm, eat hot food, or even have company. The only 'unforgettable experience' our Council should be concerned about is providing dignity, wellbeing and quality of life to its residents.

And it is the great tragedy of this Freeports 'partnership', that even at this incredibly early stage, our Councils seem compromised in their core purpose, their openness, and their democratic duties. And our Council - South Hams, who were invited to participate here this evening- isn't even here to help us understand quite what it is they signed us up for. "

My 'presentation' as a panellist ends here. Please note that at the end when I stated that South Hams Council had not turned up to speak on the panel - I meant key members with specific responsibility for the Freeport or who could speak on behalf of the Council itself.

Cllr Jacqi Hodgson was on the panel with me and clarified a number of issues from her perspective as a Green Party Councillor who was herself seeking many answers. Cllr Hodgson states she has been highlighting concerns to the parish councils she reports to since last year, as well as issuing other reports to local newsletters. The Green Party included a call for a review of the Freeport in their South Devon Election manifesto for this May.

And on 30th November, as a Member of the Executive, she will be seeking a response to public concerns and continuing to challenge these Freeport proposals, asking 'How much will it cost to leave the deal'? Politics Throughout my statement above I attempted to keep specific party politics apart from the Freeport issue as much as possible in order to preserve focus for the evening on the details.

I have been collating on-the-record statements from all the main political parties for a series of articles I intend to write in which the political dimensions to the Freeport will need to be explored. I am ensuring all main political parties have time to respond so I can write with balance on party political standpoints on what could turn into a political issue of some gravity in the timeframe of an imminent general election. Caroline Voaden has already responded as Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate, the Green Party have confirmed an imminent response.

I have emailed multiple contacts at Labour and await a response. I have emailed Anthony Mangnall MP for South Devon (Cons) and have as yet had no response. Questions From the Audience

After each member of the panel had conducted their positioning statement, George Monbiot chaired audience questions, all of which were invaluable and showed the need for urgent engagement from not only the Council and Freeport, but political parties, too. There was an interesting question raised regarding Labour's position on Freeports that I was unable to answer for reasons I clarify above. There was another thought-provoking question on whether councils were becoming effectively little more than 'contract managers' for 'the privatised state'.

The audience member asked, "Is there any point asking anything except what the national opposition parties are prepared to do to stop this march of capitalism?" Key Liberal Democrat Councillors in the Audience I had noted from the start of the meeting that the Leader of South Hams Council (and Chair of the Executive), Cllr Julian Brazil, was present and sat at the back of the audience throughout the meeting.

I chose not to highlight this fact as I felt it was his decision whether to engage or not, and I was at least glad that he was there, at least. Cllr Julian Brazil had been invited by West Country Voices to join the panel as someone who could speak on behalf of the Council, and with some knowledge of the Freeport. And then, right at the end of the event, a Liberal Democrat Councillor stood up to lay out a few points.

This Councillor had Chaired the Task and Finish scrutiny group I had mentioned in my statement above. The Task and Finish group's role was to independently scrutinise the risks and benefits of the Freeport on behalf of the Council. First, I was pleased that another Councillor had chosen to speak.

He acknowledged that, prior to May this year, the engagement and transparency with the public had been poor. And then he expressed his 'disappointment' that West Country Voices had not read out 'a statement' sent by email at 16:00 that same afternoon. That comment aroused deep misgivings for me.

What statement- and from whom? Was it a Council statement? A statement from the Freeport?

Or an additional statement from the Liberal Democrats (whose 'record' as the new administration we had just been discussing)? Comment by Proxy I was annoyed by the assumption that somehow West Country Voices were remiss in not reading an email that had been sent- without warning- late that afternoon.

This was against the backdrop that West Country Voices had been chasing both Freeport and Council for a panel member to be present to put the Freeport case. In addition, I felt it stank of being 'comment by proxy'. An emailed statement is by its nature a pre-selection of what questions to answer, and how to answer them.

A statement by email sidesteps genuine accountability. It was only after the event that I got to read the statement. And it transpires it was in fact a statement titled: "PASD (Plymouth And South Devon) Freeport Company response[2]."

My study of this statement, and reflection on the Liberal Democrat Councillor's reference to it, reveals to me the need for a whole new range of questions to be asked. You might think these questions are casting aspersions. If so, please respond so your voice can be heard!

They seem to me to be quite reasonable:

  • At the moment of expressing 'disappointment', who was the Chair of the Task and Finish Group representing? The Council? The Freeport?

    Or the Liberal Democrats?

  • How did he know about this statement ...Why did he know of the statement from the Freeport? Was the Freeport responding on behalf of the Council?
  • How much is the official Freeport response being channelled through the Liberal Democrats as a 'party line'? Is the Freeport influencing internal Liberal Democrat party politics?
  • How much are the lines being blurred between the Freeport position and the Council or Lib Dem position?
  • How much more do Lib Dem councillors know about the Freeport than other councillors, or residents?

You see, I believe that this gets to the nub of something really fascinating.

The Task and Finish group, as far as I am aware, should be an independent group that scrutinises the risks and benefits from an independent standpoint. Why would the Chair of this group even know about an official statement coming directly from the Freeport, let alone be 'disappointed' that it had not been read out? These are all interesting questions on the sequence of events.

Despite the Freeport statement - the big questions remain In my view for the most part the Freeport statement simply revisits information already available from the Freeport website and the redacted Business Case that has all 'commercially sensitive' information removed. But on the issue of Plymouth Freeport's 75km boundary (that sucks in Dartmoor), the argument presented in the statement still doesn't seem to stack up:

"Government required Freeports to be developed at pace and encouraged bidders to consider the use of Local Development Orders (LDOs). The three Local Authority members (Plymouth City Council, South Hams District Council and Devon County Council) did not wish to pursue this option for the PASD Freeport because the Joint Local Plan https://www.southhams.gov.uk/your-council/councilplans-policies-and-reports/policies/planning-policies/plymouth-and-south-west is already in place which had previously been consulted on extensively and had been signed off through the democratic processes of each Local Authority (LA). The Freeport's outer boundary is aligned to the Plymouth and South West Devon Joint Local Plan.

The PASD Freeport outer boundary was therefore drawn to reflect the geographic boundary of the Joint Local Plan, giving it a coherent economic rationale."[3] The 'clear economic rationale' required by the Freeport Bidding Prospectus seems to have been re-translated in the Freeport statement as a 'coherent economic rationale'. As I pointed out during the panel discussion, the Freeport Bidding Prospectus states in relation to the 45km maximum boundary limit:

"This means that, unless a very strong case is made [with] clear economic rationale for why the Freeport Outer Boundary is defined as it is [it] will fail the bidding process. Bids judged to be designed simply to maximise the area contained within the Outer Boundary without clear economic rationale [will fail]" I really struggle with the statement's reliance on the four-year-old Joint Local Plan (JLP[4]) as a rationale for the boundary based on the context of the JLP itself.

On page 5 of its 368 pages, the Joint local Plan states its purpose: "1.2 The key purpose of the JLP is to establish an over-arching strategic framework for sustainable growth and the management of change." So - it's stated purpose had nothing to do with tax sites, Freeports, special economic zones or freezones.

Interestingly, I note the next item stating: "1.3 The JLP excludes policies for Dartmoor National Park Authority. This is because the National Park Authority is preparing a separate local plan.

However both plans will be based on joint evidence." What does this mean for the reliance on the JLP being used to integrate Dartmoor within the Freeport zone, if in fact the National Park Authority has a separate local plan? The statement's argument for the boundary is neither strong nor compelling:

It's not an economic argument, it's a geographical argument. As a result, it doesn't seem to meet the conditions set out in the Bidding Prospectus. A 'coherent economic rationale' (what does that even mean?) is not the 'very strong case' required by the Bidding prospectus.

If it means that it's simply 'neat' because it's geographical, then that does not meet the Bidding Prospectus requirements, either. Remember: the Bidding Prospectus states, "Bids judged to be designed simply to maximise the area contained within the Outer Boundary without clear economic rationale [will fail]."

If the PASD Freeport or South Hams District Council is serious about transparency, I think we should expect them to release the relevant section of the Bidding Prospectus that was submitted; but I would be surprised if it was ever provided (unredacted), even under EIR or FOI, because of 'commercial sensitivities.' I would love to be proved wrong.

  • The Freeport statement's argument is based on the concept that the Joint Local Plan is a contextually similar proxy for further decision-making regarding the Freeport. The Joint Local Plan was consulted on in 2019 and it feels like a very stretched argument to claim that the Joint Local Plan (that was geographically based as it was a consultation on the whole area) should by extension form the rationale for a completely different entity - the Freeport - and its artificial boundary.
  • The Joint Local Plan was a consultation with an entirely different remit from the Freeport.

    In fact, please find any mention of 'Freeport', Freezone' or 'tax site' within the Joint Local Plan. I've looked, and I for one cannot find any.

  • There was clearly a deliberate choice made not to use Local Development Orders - and we should ask why this was, especially since the Joint Local Plan seems to bear little relevance to the new economic remit of a Freeport. Why was that deliberate choice made, and by whom?

There is much more to unpick from this Freeport statement- as there are still so many unanswered questions.

In particular I am interested in the fact that the Freeport statement reads, "Government required Freeports to be developed at pace". We need to find out why, on what decisions, by whom, and with what impact? Were Councillors given enough time to make big decisions?

Was the information they based these on clear? Judging by the fact we now have had a retrospective Task and Finish group looking into the Freeport deal, my feeling is - no. If anyone has any thoughts or intelligence that they wish to share - as a Councillor, resident or other party - do contact West Country Voices : [email protected][5].

Any information you may share will be looked into, in confidence. And, like many, I will be watching and listening to the South Hams Council Executive on 30 November and carefully combing through the documents provided to unpick further what this Freeport really means for all of us living in this area and beyond. And I will be looking closely for where this might lead politically - for all parties.

Because one thing is for sure: the Freeport is already proving a hotbed of controversy. We are all old enough and ugly enough to know that something that starts out mired in mud, only brings in more mud.

Call to action:

Democracy relies on the public (us) demanding transparency and accountability from our elected representatives. Use this tool[6] to find out who your elected local, South Hams, Devon County or Plymouth Councillor is.

Email them and ask your questions based on what you have read. Do they really understand the issues involved? Are they prepared to fully back the Plymouth & South Devon Freeport?

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References

  1. ^ @stanfontan (twitter.com)
  2. ^ PASD (Plymouth And South Devon) Freeport Company response (westcountryvoices.co.uk)
  3. ^ https://www.southhams.gov.uk/your-council/councilplans-policies-and-reports/policies/planning-policies/plymouth-and-south-west (www.southhams.gov.uk)
  4. ^ four-year-old Joint Local Plan (JLP (www.plymouth.gov.uk)
  5. ^ [email protected] (www.westcountryvoices.co.uk)
  6. ^ this tool (www.writetothem.com)

RHA Welcome UKWA, Year of Warehousing Visit

The RHA was delighted to join in with UK Warehousing Association (UKWA) celebrations as it marks its 80th anniversary. UKWA's CEO, Clare Bottle visited the RHA's Peterborough warehouse today (Monday 12 February). This is part of UKWA's Around Warehousing in 80 Visits - a national '2024 The Year of Warehousing' campaign to celebrate the landmark and showcase the sector.

Richard Smith, RHA MD welcomed Clare to the 'RHA Shop'. She tried out one of the transport body's truck simulators which it uses to help assess and train aspiring lorry drivers. He said: "I was delighted to welcome Clare to our warehouse today as part of UKWAs anniversary celebrations and glad that she tried out one of our truck simulators which are important tools to help us get more people behind the wheel.

"Our respective members have much in common so it's vital that we work closely. Many of the issues affecting RHA members affect UKWA members so collaboration is key when we're tackling cost challenges, plugging skills gaps and driving decarbonisation." Clare Bottle, UKWA CEO, said: "There are strong links between road haulage and warehousing, together our respective sectors underpin UK supply chains and make significant contribution to the growth of the UK economy.

"It was great to be able to visit the RHA Shop today as part of my tour around the UK's warehouses and I look forward to many more collaborative milestones with the RHA."

The RHA is also celebrating its 80th anniversary this year.


Transport & Logistics - Driving The Industry Forward

Ardent Hire sticks with Volvo for new 20 truck order

  |   Road Transport   |   Ardent Hire sticks with Volvo for new 20 truck order

09:00 Mon 26th Feb 2024 | Posted By UKHAULIER

1 hour ago

Plant rental and sales specialist Ardent Hire has taken delivery of 20 new Volvo FH 500 6x2 tractor units as part of a major fleet upgrade programme. Volvo Trucks beat off the competition of two other manufacturers to secure the order, with the customer citing the reliability and driver comfort of the FH, as well as strong aftersales support, as the key reasons for the decision.
Supplied by Matt Kubot, Transport Solutions Executive at Volvo Truck and Bus South & East, the new FHs were handed over at Ardent Hire's Felixstowe depot and will join its busy UK-wide operation.
Gareth Clements, Group Operations Director, at Ardent Hire, says: "We have been long-term admirers of the Volvo product, having run its trucks for a number of years now. The FH is ideally suited to our line of work and, following a thorough procurement process, Volvo Trucks came out on top for us again.
"The overall driver experience in the Globetrotter cab is second to none, and we know the FH is as reliable as they come.

The aftersales support is also crucial. We run a national operation providing first-class plant equipment across the country, Volvo has an excellent dealer network that helps keeps us moving."
The new FHs are powered by a Euro-6 compliant D13K Step E engine, producing 500 hp and a peak torque of 2,500 Nm, and driven through an automated 12-speed I-Shift transmission.
Ardent Hire operates 24/7, distributing and balancing out depot stock levels overnight, allowing its trucks to be available for customer deliveries and collections throughout the day. To ensure its drivers are comfortable while they work, the business has specified each Globetrotter cab with a Drive+ package, adding creature comforts including fully electronic air conditioning with sun, mist, and air quality sensors with carbon filter, an adjustable steering wheel with neck-tilt and an electrically operated fabric interior sun visor.
Other interior benefits include a premium 50mm mattress topper and a reclining bunk, plus 245 litres of rear cab upper storage and a 33-litre under bunk-mounted fridge/freezer.
To protect the trucks during their work delivering heavy plant machinery to busy construction sites, the FHs are built with a high chassis and feature a heavy-duty bumper.

Made of 3mm high-grade steel and partly covered by a thick polypropylene coating, it's designed to shield the front of the truck from scratches, dents and broken headlights on any terrain.
"We operate at STGO Category 2 which allows us to run at 65 tonnes, and we have a special construction specification," adds Clements. "These trucks have been carefully built which gives us an end product that we believe is the envy of the industry."
Replacing 20 older Volvo Trucks models in the company's 50-strong fleet, the FHs are expected to cover 80,000km per year.

They are set to be joined by a further 12 Volvo FMX 8x2 rigids at Ardent Hire later in the year.

International trade takes to the skies

International trade takes to the skies to navigate Chinese New Year and Red Sea disruption

Key express air cargo routes are experiencing severe delays and rising rates. Confronted by China’s Lunar New Year holiday and continuing Houthi attacks on shipping, some global companies are switching to air transport. This is disrupting global air freight, warns the international delivery expert ParcelHero.

The international delivery expert ParcelHero is warning that localised severe air cargo congestion is continuing to increase. It says global companies have taken to the skies to avoid the Red Sea crisis and Chinese port closures because of the Lunar New Year two-week celebrations.

David Jinks M.I.L.T., ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research and former Editor of ‘Lloyds Shipping Index’, says: ‘Attacks on ships heading for the vital Suez Canal shortcut continue in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. In addition, Chinese New Year (which started on 10 February) has caused its annual global logjam, with many ports and manufacturing companies shutting up shop for up to a fortnight. It’s no wonder many shippers are diverting from maritime services to air freight, especially for more time-sensitive cargos.

‘This switch is having an impact. There was a 10% increase in air freight last month, with global air cargo tonnages rising 24% in one week in January. As a result, air cargo spot rates from China to the US rose 14% in the first week of February. At the same time, China to Europe air freight saw an 8% spot rate increase, with prices averaging 20% higher than mid-January.

‘The reason for this increase in demand for air freight is not hard to understand. Just this week, a Belize-flagged, British-registered cargo vessel, the ‘Rubymar’, was attacked with missiles and the crew was forced to abandon ship.

‘The Houthis’ attacks on global shipping on this vital route between Asia and Europe are forcing many shipping companies to divert from the Red Sea-Suez Canal route to the Cape of Good Hope, adding around nine days on a typical voyage between China and Europe. That means delays and increased fuel and insurance costs. With this in mind, air freight has been looking more competitive.

‘On top of this crisis comes the traditional logistics crunch that is Chinese Lunar New Year. China is marking the arrival of the Year of the Dragon. Celebrations culminate in this Saturday’s Lantern Festival (24 February).

‘Initially, there was a scramble for aviation services as businesses rushed to get products out before the festivities began. Now the continuing demand for air freight on this route is because many ships are birthed for the duration and containers are stuck firmly in Chinese ports until manufacturing ramps up enough to restore full services. Air freight enables those companies manufacturing and operating in Asia to leapfrog the Chinese bottleneck.

‘Handler Bangkok Flight Services was forced to suspend services for a while due to overwhelming demand, saying it experienced “unprecedented volumes of cargo due to the Red Sea crisis, resulting in a modal shift from sea to air, and a higher than expected surge due to the Chinese New Year.”

‘One of the key industries that is clearly unwilling to wait for supply chains to return to normal is fast fashion. Global Forwarding reports retailers and fashion brands are already shipping more goods by air freight, with air cargo volumes from Vietnam spiking 62% in one week in January, up 16% on the same week in 2023.

‘Increased demand for air freight from companies that traditionally use maritime services may well squeeze established regular air freight and parcel services, resulting in decreased capacity and increased costs.

‘The true crunch will come after the impact of the Chinese Lunar New Year subsides – and it usually takes global logistics a good month to return to normal patterns after the festival. Then we’ll see if demand for airfreight continues to build or falls away, even if the Red Sea crisis is ongoing.

‘One piece of good news is that the surge in air cargo costs is unlikely to significantly impact those UK-US air freight services that don’t originate in Asia. However, we do advise everyone sending parcels to the US to regularly check ParcelHero’s USA page, which gives full details on any changes in prices, Customs advice, and details about sending food etc.

‘The US is ParcelHero’s biggest individual overseas market. For expert advice on UK-US shipping, including useful frequently asked questions (FAQs), help for exporters and prohibited items details, see: https://www.parcelhero.com/en-gb/international-courier-services/usa-parcel-delivery


Transport & Logistics – Driving The Industry Forward

What Liverpool and Chelsea supporters did differently as incredible moment proves Jurgen Klopp’s greatest achievement

When is one injury one injury too many?

Clearly never, if you have Jurgen Klopp as your manager.

What Liverpool did to Chelsea at Wembley on Sunday was incredible. Make no mistake, this win was up there with the best - perhaps the best - of Klopp’s reign.

The subplots were clear, but a reminder of the broad strokes for the record, and because it’s always worth remembering the odds Liverpool overcame.

Eleven injuries, including no Mohamed Salah or Darwin Nunez, whose hopes of playing were extinguished in the build-up to the game. Another problem when Ryan Gravenberch was stood on by the clumsy Moises Caicedo inside half an hour, the Dutchman left on crutches after the game. Poor officiating, VAR interventions and a bench full of youngsters.

All pitched against a bloated, billion pound machine that, prior to the match, threatened to cough and splutter into life for the first time this season.

But Liverpool overcame. Klopp’s men playing like lions, embarrassing the Londoners with their sheer will to win.

It was nothing short of incredible, but then it’s hardly surprising.

For Chelsea 2024, see Everton 2020 and Curtis Jones arriving on the scene in style.

Or what about 2019 and a certain corner taken quickly.

You can even go back several nights to Luton Town at Anfield for evidence of what belief can do.

Klopp makes the impossible seem possible, the improbable virtually a sure thing.

And so Liverpool lifted their 10th League Cup with victory over Chelsea and Klopp is going out the way he came in, by instilling a belief and hope back into a football club that, however briefly, lost its way last season.

It was exactly what he did when he walked into a club which, months previously, had feebly ended a season with a 6-1 defeat at Stoke City and was a husk of what it once was.

But Klopp had Liverpool fans eating from the palm of his hand with one instant soundbite when he sat down with club media staff in 2016, telling fans to turn from “doubters to believers”.

And nine years later, that belief flows right throughout the place, from the first team to the academy, to the supporters in the stands.

And nothing summed that up more than a moment deep in the second half when the Liverpool end responded to wave after wave of Chelsea attacks with a deafening rendition of Allez Allez Allez, scarfs whirling in defiance as opposition supporters limply replied with a tame wave of their plastic flags.

Liverpool’s players responded by scrapping their way to the final whistle, before dominating Chelsea again in extra time.

Klopp may be running out of energy but his players rarely do. Witness Alexis Mac Allister running until he looked ready to collapse, or Wataru Endo, hunched and weary, fighting a £200m battle and winning. What about Luis Diaz, whose pestering of Chelsea’s defenders never stopped for 120 minutes?

Then there were youngsters Harvey Elliott and Conor Bradley, who responded to changes of circumstances and tactics with the maturity of players vastly more experienced than they.

  • A 40-page souvenir special commemorating Liverpool FC's Carabao Cup win will be available to buy in shops from Thursday or you can pre-order it HERE[3] now from our online shop.

Not to mention a whole host of Academy starlets who emerged to take the fight to players whose price tags make your head spin.

Indeed, Liverpool will hope sponsors Carabao hand out crates of their energy drink with the silverware. Fill up the trophy and drink deep, they’ve earned it.

For Liverpool’s youngsters, their footballing journeys are just beginning, but today is a day for them to savour. Klopp’s management may be only a short window of their career but they will do well to remember the lessons he’s taught them about belief. It’ll take them a long way.

Indeed, the same day in 2016 Klopp asked for supporters to change their mindsets with that soundbite, he later sat in his first ever press conference and guaranteed titles would follow within four years.

He kept his promise, but regardless, in the nine years he’s been on Merseyside he reminded Liverpool supporters of something more important. And it might be his greatest achievement and legacy he leaves behind.

When Liverpool fans head to pubs and bars around Wembley, back up the motorway or should signals allow, onto the train, they’ll do so with more cherished memories and moments to savour.

Because football isn’t always about the destination, it’s about the journey.

And thanks to Klopp, belief will take them a long way.

References

  1. ^ Liverpool Carabao Cup final win is the ultimate vindication of Jurgen Klopp (www.liverpoolecho.co.uk)
  2. ^ Liverpool player ratings as one player gets perfect score in astonishing Carabao Cup win (www.liverpoolecho.co.uk)
  3. ^ HERE (shop.regionalnewspapers.co.uk)

Traffic building on M6 near rush hour after accident

An accident has closed a lane on the M6 Thelwall Viaduct headed Southbound, with the incident occurring between Junction 21A, Croft Interchange, and Junction 21, Woolston.

According to an incident log posted by Traffic England, it is expected that normal traffic conditions will not be reached until between 9.15am and 9.30am.

Traffic monitoring system INRIX states that the car involved in the accident has now been moved to the hard shoulder.

North West Motorway Police have also posted on X (formerly known as Twitter) stating that traffic on the M6 southbound near Thelwall is ‘slow’ due to ‘a couple of incidents’.

North West Motorway Police posted: “Good morning from D block, with you until 7pm this evening. We have a couple of incidents on M6 Southbound near to Thelwall. Traffic slow in this area. We will keep you updated of any incidents ongoing. Have a good day.”

Cheshire Police have been contacted for comment regarding the accident on the M6.

Motorway’s new transport offering improves vehicle appraisal quality, speed and service for dealers

Motorway Move is a high-quality, competitively priced, end-to-end transportation solution for dealers purchasing stock with Motorway.

Powered by two new technologies – Motorway Collect and Motorway Dispatch – Motorway Move will improve appraisal quality, speed and service levels.

What’s more, alongside the suite of new technologies, Motorway will also be providing more competitive rates, driving more value for its dealer partners.

Advert

When purchasing used car stock with Motorway[1], our dealer partners need an efficient and effective vehicle transport provider.

Transportation has been a pain point for many of our dealers and the wider industry for a number of reasons, including the quality of appraisals, service levels and, of course, price.

We’ve listened to feedback from dealers we work with and have now fully enhanced our transport offering with our new end-to-end transportation solution: Motorway Move.

Advert

Motorway Move is a hassle-free transportation service for Motorway purchases, improving appraisal quality, speed and service levels.

Our innovative, new transport solution has been designed to significantly improve the post-sale experience for dealers, making the process easier, faster and more consistent while also delivering more value.

You can watch an animated video below that brings to life how it works and the benefits to dealers:

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Motorway Move is powered by two new proprietary technologies, built in-house by the team at Motorway.

The first is Motorway Collect – a vehicle appraisal app, which enables more accurate and thorough vehicle appraisals.

Motorway Collect is being rolled out to Motorway Move collections, driving quality, consistency and transparency in the vehicle collection and appraisal process.

Advert

With Motorway Collect, the driver collecting the vehicle has access to the same vehicle profile from the Motorway daily sale.

This enables them to compare the vehicle being collected to the original profile, resulting in a faster, more accurate appraisal process.

Motorway Collect also allows drivers to highlight any additional damage, upload photos directly to the app and conduct a test drive.

The purchasing dealer is able to review the vehicle’s full appraisal in Motorway Pro and make decisions on potential negotiations if needed.

When the transportation is complete, proof of delivery is also submitted by the driver in the Motorway Collect app, giving the purchasing dealer full transparency over the condition of their purchased vehicle.

Designed to drive high-quality and consistent appraisals, Motorway Collect provides dealers with peace of mind when outsourcing the collection of their purchases.

Network planning for Motorway Move will be driven by our new transport management system: Motorway Dispatch.

Designed to improve the speed and efficiency of vehicle deliveries, Motorway Dispatch drives faster vehicle collections and deliveries through optimised planning and workforce management.

The innovative network planning capabilities will see drivers placed in jobs that are most local to them, reducing wasted travel and supporting faster deliveries and fewer rescheduled jobs.

For dealers, this will save time and money as they will receive their vehicles faster, reducing days to sale.

By streamlining operations, Motorway Dispatch will also reduce defects, such as reschedules, giving dealers confidence that their vehicles will be collected and delivered when expected.

Finally, Motorway Move fees have been reduced by up to 10% when compared with the previous Motorway Transport product, with movements now from as little as £89.

This offers dealers a competitive and all-inclusive price, highlighting our commitment to delivering more value for dealer partners.

Motorway Move is a prime example of Motorway at its best – listening to dealer feedback and using smart technology to deliver a best-in-class experience.

We will now deliver more value than ever to our dealer partners, driving quality, consistent vehicle collections and deliveries.

Dealers can book vehicle deliveries with Motorway Move on Motorway Pro[2].

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References

  1. ^ Motorway (pro.motorway.co.uk)
  2. ^ Motorway Pro (pro.motorway.co.uk)

Hunt is on for idiots who chucked items off motorway bridge at passing traffic near Polmont

Watch more of our videos on Shots!  and live on Freeview channel 276

Visit Shots! now[1]

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We are asking for the help of the community after items were thrown from a motorway overbridge on the M9 between junctions 4 and 5 towards a passing motorist around 4.20pm on Sunday, February 18.

“Officers are investigating this incident and would appreciate any information or dashcam footage you may have.”

Call 101 quoting the reference CR/0065704/24 if you can help.

References

  1. ^ Visit Shots! now (www.shotstv.com)

North Yorkshire road closures: 4 to avoid over the next fortnight

But motorists will be able to take some solace in the fact that most of them of them are only expected to cause slight delays, of less than 10 minutes.

There is only one closure that is expected to case delays of between 10 minutes and half an hour. 

The latest expected works list, with notes from National Highways, shows that two closures already in place are expected to carry on this week:

  • A64, from 8.30am February 1 to 3.30pm February 29, slight delays (under 10 minutes): A64 eastbound and westbound, Hopgrove to Musham Bank, Stop and go for general cleaning and maintenance works.
  • A64, from 9.30am February 1 to 3.30pm February 29, slight delays (under 10 minutes): A64 eastbound and westbound, Hopgrove to Seamer, mobile lane closure for general cleaning and maintenance works.
  • A66, from 8pm February 5 to 5pm March 29, moderate delays (10-30 minutes): A66 eastbound and westbound, Blackwell, traffic signals for construction works to renew driveways.

Get the latest news, sports, and entertainment delivered straight to your device by subscribing to The Northern Echo here[1]

And a further two closures will begin over the next two weeks:

  • A64, from 8pm March 4 to 6am March 9, slight delays (under 10 minutes): A64 eastbound and westbound, East Knapton to West Heslerton, traffic signals for construction improvement/upgrade.
  • A64, from 9pm March 4 to 5am March 5, slight delays (under 10 minutes): A64 eastbound and westbound, Hopgrove, traffic signals for carriageway repairs.

National Highways is responsible for maintaining motorways and major A-roads, so closures of smaller roads will not be included in their schedule.

References

  1. ^ here (www.thenorthernecho.co.uk)

Coming to a village near you? The new motorways in the sky

For the first time since the golden age of aviation 70 years ago, the airspace over Britain is changing — to create 25-mile motorways in the sky.

A reorganisation is necessary because aircraft rarely take the shortest route between two airports, often zig-zagging along the way because of restrictions that have grown up thanks to vested interests and a lag in adapting to new technology.

The system was designed in the 1950s for aircraft that have long since retired, such as the VC-10, the Vickers Vanguard and Hawker Siddeley Trident.

They used ground-based navigation which is now redundant. Modern satellite systems and automation mean aircraft can be packed in on much more closely defined routes.

The new flight path for Gatwick could pass over Hever Castle, near Edenbridge, Kent — the childhood home of Anne Boleyn

The new flight path for Gatwick could pass over Hever Castle, near Edenbridge, Kent — the childhood home of Anne Boleyn

ALAMY

Flight paths for the busiest 20 airports in the country could be transformed so that aircraft could have their descents automated along channels about 480 metres wide.

Advertisement

The plans could save time and fuel, reduce delays and cut noise for many villages and towns under flight paths.

But for those living underneath the new jet highways, the fear is that the noise pollution could be devastating.

Plans for the initial stage of this reorganisation, for Gatwick, were released earlier this month, giving the first insight in to how the changes may affect those living near airports.

Campaigners say aircraft heading to and from Gatwick could fly lower for longer

Campaigners say aircraft heading to and from Gatwick could fly lower for longer

NICK ANSELL/PA

Presently aircraft approaching Gatwick come from a range of directions to start their descent at 7,000ft, about 12 miles to the east.

But under the new plans they could start 25 miles out, further to the south, keeping traffic to one long channel. This is likely to mean, though, that there would be more aircraft at a lower altitude. Campaigners say aircraft will fly lower for longer, creating more noise and meaning the areas under the new flight paths will have more regular air traffic.

Sally Pavey, who chairs Cagne, a group which campaigns about noise from Gatwick, was alarmed to see proposals for new routes overflying the Horsham and Copthorne areas to the south of the airport. She said: “This comes with no compensation, no consideration to the impact it will have on home life or house value.”

Sally Pavey has expressed concerns about the new route over Horsham

Sally Pavey has expressed concerns about the new route over Horsham

PETER TARRY FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Another campaigner, Charles Lloyd, highlighted the threat to Cowden, a village in the High Weald area of natural beauty. He estimated the frequency of overhead aircraft could increase from one every 15 to 20 minutes in the summer peak to one every 100 seconds.

The new flight path could pass over Hever Castle[1], near Edenbridge, Kent, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn.

Advertisement

Its custodian, Duncan Leslie, has already moved out of the grounds after 15 years partly because of the noise from aircraft. He fears much more regular traffic, which could affect the number of visitors and the opportunities to make money from filming.

Leslie said: “When you hear the aeroplanes you can’t really escape them. Things keep you awake and the aeroplanes are particularly good at doing that. That bothers me, as it does some of our guests, and I dare say some of our guests might choose not to come again if they think there might be more planes.”

The Civil Aviation Authority has set up an industry body, Airspace Change Organising Group (Acog), to oversee the shake-up. The first phase will reorganise Scotland and the London terminal control area, which also includes Heathrow, Stansted and airports as far away as Bournemouth across the south of England.

Planners for Gatwick have said they are calculating how many extra households are likely to be troubled by aircraft noise in different situations. So far, those options affecting the greatest number are being ruled out.

Hever Castle’s custodian, Duncan Leslie, has already moved out of the grounds in part because of the noise

Hever Castle’s custodian, Duncan Leslie, has already moved out of the grounds in part because of the noise

PETER TARRY FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Campaigners say that at the moment it is difficult for the public to have a meaningful involvement because an official consultation does not begin until next year and the maps produced by Gatwick showing possible flight paths do not make clear how many aircraft would pass overhead, nor at what altitude or how loud they would be; indeed, they blur out the names of settlements on the ground.

Leslie said the process appeared to be intentionally obscure: “I’m sure they are thinking if we do this, [locals] will give up after a while, because they’ve got other things to do, which is kind of true.”

The plan for Gatwick is particularly significant because it is also seeking to add a second runway[2], to be in use by 2030.

Advertisement

While the proposed changes to the airspace used for take-off and landing are still in the early stages, some remarkable work is under way for aircraft at higher altitude.

There have been changes to transatlantic flight plans. The old system sent planes on long detours — in one case of 578 miles — because aircraft could be plotted only every 14 minutes in the middle of the ocean and had to be kept 40 nautical miles apart for safety reasons. But with modern technology they can be monitored every eight seconds, meaning they can fly closer together and on more direct routes that make better use of prevailing winds.

A great deal is at stake for aviation, regarded as the villain of climate change for its high-carbon emissions. The administrative task of redesigning airspace to make flights more efficient is much simpler than introducing alternative types of fuels.

Yet progress has been tortuously slow. There was a hiatus during the pandemic, and while the changes are forecast to come into force at Gatwick by late 2026, completing the process is expected to take until at least 2033.

Now the plans for Gatwick have been released, campaigners in other parts of the country have begun to worry how the reorganisation will affect them.

Paul Beckford, co-ordinator for residents affected by Heathrow flight paths, said: “Airspace modernisation is going to impact millions of people around the country and the vast majority are simply not aware that the infrastructure above their heads is about to undergo a once-in-a-generation change.

“Tens of thousands of people have bought or may be buying a home over the next few years as these changes are implemented, without any knowledge of the potential economic, environmental and health blight that will be caused by noise pollution.”

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The CAA said in a statement that it would “deliver quicker, quieter and cleaner journeys and more capacity.” Acog said compensation would be considered for residents “where they experience significantly increased overflight”.

References

  1. ^ Hever Castle (www.thetimes.co.uk)
  2. ^ seeking to add a second runway (www.thetimes.co.uk)

M5 crash Toyota driver walks off down lane three of motorway

Officers from the Central Motorway Police Group discovered the driver of the crashed Toyota half a mile down the live lane of the M5.

They were arrested on suspicion of drink driving after blowing 73mcg - over double the drink drive limit of 35mcg.

The crash happened between junction 3 (Stourbridge/Kidderminster) and 2 (Dudley).

A spokesperson for CMPG said: "Yesterday we attended a single vehicle RTC M5 J3- J2.

"Driver decided to walk off walking down L3 prior to our arrival.

"We managed to grab driver 1/2 mile down the carriageway in L3. Driver arrested drink driving blew 73."

Tensions grow as 160 tonnes of Ukrainian grain sabotaged in Poland

Polish saboteurs vandalised 160 tonnes of Ukrainian grain on Sunday, marking the latest salvo in an increasingly bitter cross-border dispute[1] over agricultural exports.

Video and pictures online showed eight wagons of corn spilling onto the tracks near the village of Kotomierz, northern Poland, prompting Ukraine’s[2] deputy prime minister to condemn it as an act of “impunity and irresponsibility”.

“These pictures show 160 tonnes of destroyed Ukrainian grain. The grain was in transit to the port of Gdansk and then to other countries,” Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“The fourth case of vandalism at Polish[3] railway stations. The fourth case of impunity and irresponsibility.”

Later on Sunday, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky[4] warned: “If steps to solve the problem with Poland at the border are not found, we will protect our business.”

Previous incidents of grain being spilled from trains took place on the Polish border with Ukraine.

4/ pic.twitter.com/MujkLH7LUK[5]

— Lord Bebo (@MyLordBebo) February 25, 2024[6]

Polish farmers have been protesting[7] this month against what they say is unfair competition from Ukraine and European Union environment regulations.

They have blocked border crossings with Ukraine and motorways, and emptied Ukrainian produce from train wagons.

“We know that protests that take the form of spilling grain are not good,” Czeslaw Siekierski, Polish agriculture minister, told a news conference.

However, he added, sometimes the reaction to such incidents from the Ukrainian side went too far.

Donald Tusk, Poland’s prime minister, said on Friday that he will classify border crossings with Ukraine, as well as nearby roads and railways, as critical infrastructure, giving a “100 per cent guarantee that military and humanitarian aid will reach the Ukrainian side without any delays”.

He was responding to Mr Zelensky’s invitation to come to the border to end the farmers’ blockade, calling it “a measure of national security”.

Lidia Kowalska, a police spokesman from the northern Polish city of Bydgoszcz, told Reuters “the details and circumstances are being investigated”, she told Reuters. “At 0930 we received a report about grain that had spilled out.”

Russian provocateurs

Some even blamed Russian intelligence.

“Attacks on Ukrainian grain are organised by Russia-led provocateurs[8]. There is no doubt their goal is to destroy Polish-Ukrainian relations and undermine Poland. 

“Therefore I cannot understand why the Polish state [doesn’t] arrest these FSB assets or protect grain trains,” Sergej Sumlenny, director of the European Resilience Centre, wrote on X.

Others have pointed out the traumatic nature of the protests for Ukrainians, linking them to the Holodomor, a 1930s famine caused by Soviet agricultural collectivisation.

Ariana Gic, senior advisor at the Centre for Eastern European Democracy wrote on X: “I cannot even begin to express how absolutely sickening this is ,even on a purely symbolic level for Ukraine.”

“Moscow’s 1932-33 Holodomor genocide of the Ukrainian people… was by artificial famine. Russians dumped Ukrainian grain then too,” she added.

References

  1. ^ cross-border dispute (www.telegraph.co.uk)
  2. ^ Poland, prompting Ukraine’s (www.telegraph.co.uk)
  3. ^ vandalism at Polish (www.telegraph.co.uk)
  4. ^ Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky (www.telegraph.co.uk)
  5. ^ pic.twitter.com/MujkLH7LUK (t.co)
  6. ^ February 25, 2024 (twitter.com)
  7. ^ Polish farmers have been protesting (www.telegraph.co.uk)
  8. ^ organised by Russia-led provocateurs (www.telegraph.co.uk)