Saturday, September 14, 2013

Fracking revenues should be used to re-generate the north

From Brother Ivo:

It may not seem obvious to draw a link between the glories of King's College Chapel, Cambridge, and the Daryll K Royal football stadium of the University of Texas at Austin.

Most readers will know King's College; the Austin University stadium holds 100,000 spectators who attend for only 13 games a season, and a project exists to extend it by adding another 30,000 seats. By way of comparison, Old Trafford holds only 75,000. The head coach of the college 'Texas Longhorns' is paid in excess of $5m p.a. Such is the economic power of this academic institution.

King's College chapel expresses the epitome of Gothic perpendicular architecture and man's attempt to express his devotion to the Almighty, albeit laced with significant attempts to fortify the claims to legitimacy of the newly successful Tudor dynasty. The football stadium is a utilitarian erection dedicated to the 21st century obsession with sport. Both have come into existence thanks to two common but powerful human mechanisms - patronage and endowment.

The successful like to make their mark on posterity through association with iconic projects, and that applies as much to San Antonio lawyers or Houston dentists as Tudor monarchs, yet what gives both universities significant advantage over others in the world is the economic power which has grown exponentially thanks to early investment.

The King's favour began the process at Cambridge and the early endowment of assets made the difference. The sublime chapel and the attraction of the most learned of teachers were not funded by student fees. The college was endowed with land, and its assets were augmented by the artistic investment and economic skills of John Maynard Keynes.

Texas University enjoys a different advantage when it comes either to competing on the sporting stage or developing its very considerable research and academic capacity. Its endowment includes significant oil reserves.

Whether one is competing at auction to purchase literary papers, or seeking to attract talented academics and sportsman, rich universities have world-beating capacity. Where one is seeking success, on many level, money talks.

It is in this environment that British universities have to compete, and few deny that Britain's economic future depends upon the quality of its education, especially in the scientific and technical spheres. We have to take our chances as and when they present themselves, and this leads us to the question of the exploitation of shale gas deposits.

The precise distribution of these resources is not yet clear, but it is known that locations include Blackpool and the West Lancashire basin. Already environmental objections are being raised in these areas. A fear of minor earthquakes is advanced.

If these fears and objections are to be overcome, choices will have to be made about how the benefits of such reserves are to be distributed. Doubtless government will currently have its eyes on its share of the profits of any such exploitation.

But imagine if our rulers took a far-sighted approach and, incidentally, addressed a number of current social and political problems.

There is a current controversy over spending up to £50bn on building a high-speed rail link, initially only to the Midlands, but with plans to extend it further north. The proponents tell us that the link itself is regenerative, yet that requires massive public expenditure - upon a somewhat speculative business plan. This is coming under increasing sceptical scrutiny and such caution is far from irrational. Above all, many of those adversely affected by this high-speed bypass from London to Birmingham see no benefit to themselves and their disrupted communities. The benefits seem to accrue mainly to the London elite and those travelling to visit them.

Yet not every futuristic dream proves a failure.

50 years ago the French rural department of the Vienne promoted the development of the Futuroscope which has grown into a successful tripartite economic entity. It is part theme park, part science park and part University. It has proved a major tourist attraction and business regenerator of its region and there is interest in taking this model into the developing world in India and China.

In the English north-west we know that the retail trade is in crisis; the traditional entertainment industry, like other traditional sectors, continues to struggle and, throughout much of the north, the Conservatives cannot convince voters that they have serious interest in helping those beyond their southern heartlands, despite a previous history of strength in the industrial north.

Yet this same area now appears to have a massive energy resource capable of contributing to the energy security of the UK for decades.

Unlike the inhabitants of Haut Poitou, in France, who embraced their innovative regenerator, and, incidentally, are accepting a second TGV rail line without turning a hair, the instant response of many in such areas of potential development is suspicion and hostility. Much of this is based upon a perception that there is nothing in it for them, and that all the profits will head south to London or west to the USA.

If the Government were to use the opportunity afforded by the shale gas reserves wisely, a whole range of their problems in the most depressed regions could be addressed.

Foremost would be a commitment to a significant portion of the taxation windfall being spent in the north. Placing funds in an endowment for a world-class technical university to rival MIT or UT with a science park attached would be a major start. Independent leadership, free of government funding/dependency, direction and interference, is essential.

If the theme-park addition were feasible,with its plethora of jobs for all skill levels, to kick start the region's return to its currently declining role as entertainment tourist destination, so much the better.

The area might begin to appreciate that there is a direct benefit in the acceptance of development and the prospect of tangibly sharing a unique opportunity. The idea is not without precedent. It is a rather more hard-edged, long-term version of Michael Heseltine's flower festival initiatives of the 1980s. Rather more successful has been the Bluewater development in Kent which, after much initial suspicion, has become a matter of considerable local pride.

Even something as inert as the iconic Angel of the North has contributed to a lifted morale in the north-east, so a major commitment to an independent regeneration of the north-west would make a considerable impact. Funds for scholarships and bursaries would add to the prospects of success.

Such a proposal would depend upon government giving up a significant portion of fracking revenue, and stepping away from their perogative of continuing patronage. It would certainly upset a few alma maters as Nobel Prize winners headed north. It is not an easy idea to be accepted, yet we saw North Sea Oil revenue come and go, with much of it used to prop up indolence, complacency and waste. It would be a great legacy if, after the shale gas gave out, we had used its promise to develop a new range of sciences and technologies to continue this country's proud history of innovation in these areas.

It is an idea which is good for regional development, educational independence, future economic security, and the importation of that North American 'can do' attitude, the absence of which is a major hindrance to success.

Above all, there is an element of morality involved. If local communities are to be disturbed, it is only right that a sense of compensatory optimism should be injected. If that is not done, the only voices heard locally will be those of Caroline Lucas and the Balcombe protesters.

We are enjoined by Scripture to love our neighbours as ourselves: if our localities were facing significant change, we would want some sense of participation in the benefit. If not for ourselves, then for our children and grandchildren.

On a whole range of levels, the advancement of the exploitation of shale gas can be an exciting opportunity, but it needs enthusiastic presentation and, above all, positive leadership. For too long the north has wallowed in grievance and a sense of southern indifference to their problems of transition which flowed from industrial coal, iron and steel decline. Fracking offers a viable source of regenerative finance.

The north needs some innovative thinking from the Tory heartlands which have shared significantly in London's success. It is time for good neighbourliness to use a northern opportunity for northern jobs for northern workers. It will do us all good.

As the Book of Proverbs teaches, 'Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.'

Brother Ivo is the Patron Saint of lawyers

45 Comments:

Blogger David Hussell said...

An interesting article but strangely lacking in at least one respect.
A significant contribution to the many reasons that physical "development" is so very unpopular in this country is because, compared to say France, (let alone the the US ) we have 40% of the land area for about the same population, and also because the English identify so strongly with their countryside, which is reflected in culture. In short we feel full up, and we certainly are, in many parts of England. Conservative voters especially, are influenced by these forces.
Now fracking is mainly underground with an exceedingly small development footprint visible. But it does, in my conjecture, invoke the same fears in the public mind as the surface development of large scale building projects. Certainly much of the opposition to HS2 is due to the need to protect out rapidly shrinking resource of countryside, high quality landscapes and Sites of Scientific Interest, and quite rightly too. Psalm 24 reminds us that : "The earth is The Lord's and the fulness thereof", which says it all really.

Secondly a deliberate targeting of tax revenues from a specific source, or from particular regions is very counter to the normal Treasury approach which ensures that any hypothecation of funds if allowed , is merely temporary, and with the taxaation revenue stream soon reverting to the "general pot". This keeps The Treasury in total control of where revenues are spent, regardless of their source, geographically, or the economic activity, of the taxation stream. This is a general Treasury "doctrine".
So I don't see this one flying.

14 September 2013 09:46  
Blogger Brother Ivo said...

Both fair points Brother David, however the endowed Universities seem to have a better track record of advancing the human condition than those more dependent on the wisdom of the Civil Service.

14 September 2013 10:40  
Blogger David B said...

I have no strong well informed opinions regarding the rights or wrongs of fracking, or how any such revenues should be spent - a shortcoming I hope to correct in the fuuture, as I do understand that it is not a simple issue.

I would, however, like to bring back into the discussion something that we have looked at in recent times, since there is a piece in today's Torygraph about the continuing gender abortion saga.

I find myself in agreement with a Tory MP.

I quote the article

"Dr Sarah Wollaston, a former GP and now Tory MP, said that while she was strongly in favour of women’s abortion rights, there was nothing feminist about the practice of “female foeticide”.
She said that opposition to the practice, perhaps uniquely, united people on opposing sides of the abortion debate."

Yes, indeed.

David

14 September 2013 11:06  
Blogger bluedog said...

Brother Ivo cautions, 'It is not an easy idea to be accepted, yet we saw North Sea Oil revenue come and go, with much of it used to prop up indolence, complacency and waste.'

In what regard has human nature as it applies to the political class changed? Any windfall will be used to pay an electoral 'dividend', which means buying enough votes to secure a further term in power for the incumbent party.

No, the regeneration of the North can be done in other ways, and necessarily needs to include Scotland.

With regard to northern England, this communicant's two point plan is very simple.

Firstly, federate the British constitution and establish the new political capital in the garden city of Liverpool, which happens to be the geographic centre of the British archipelago.

Secondly, reinterr his late majesty King Richard III together with his wife Anne Neville in York Minster, thus creating an annuity income stream for that beautiful building that would benefit the whole 'faire citie'.

Job done.

14 September 2013 14:01  
Blogger Gnostic said...

I live in the north. Let the revenue from fracking bring down the cost of energy, both domestic and commercial so that people will have enough money in their pockets to allow the free market to drag the place out of the pit of high taxation and shrinking work prospects.

We don't want charity. We want opportunity.

14 September 2013 14:16  
Blogger Shadow said...

Well said Gnostic, I totally agree!

14 September 2013 16:50  
Blogger Nath said...

An endowed university, local light rail and improved interconnectivity between the North's towns and regional centres, subsidised business and development zones... ANYTHING to stimulate private enterprise, wealth creation, intellectual endeavour, innovation and jobs…

anything except giving it to local government in order to fund more bureaucracy, "street art", community action forums, minority outreach groups etc., community cohesion through the arts projects etc.

In the absence of transparent and real accountability local government has developed a particular skill at wasting money they never earned on unsustainable projects of dubious long term value.

It is about time the dependency of local government on local tax generation and the engagement of the private citizen was re-established. Existing arrangements encourage imprudent spending and economic dissonance between the governed and the government.

In short our politico-economic systems needs to be re-fashioned along the principle of servant leadership rather than on remote, paternal lordship.

14 September 2013 17:08  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Nath,

I agree with what you say regarding the re-establishment of the direct links between Local Government and the local people that they are there to serve. Much of that accountability has been lost. In the 19th C our pioneering Local Government ideas led the world.

As a former Local Authority Director, a Chief Officer in plain English, I can also tell you that a large part of the problem is that even the sensible Councils, that do want to do exactly what you say, avoiding waste on all the politically correct, ultra trendy nonsense, are dragooned into doing it against their will. They are first "advised" and then instructed, to "embrace these opportunities for social development", often against the wishes of their electorate and elected councillors, by legislation and regulations flowing down to them from Central Government, who very often , are merely gold plating EU derived "initiatives". Therefore they have to hire Diversity Officers, Arts Officers, Local Agenda 21 Officers and etc etc , when some Councils just want to get on with providing basic, essential and value for money services. There is very little true local democracy nowadays, but the Centre finds it useful to preserve the myth of local decision making so as to mask their culpability and avoid responsibility. In short the Government hides behind Local Government, which is often the fall guy.

Much environmental legislation, especially in my original professional specialism, Land Use/ Transport control, or Town Planning in popular parlance, all became hugely more complex, slower, more cumbersome and more expensive as the EU Directives flooded into the UK, all of which is some time ago now. Of course the legal profession benefitted from more complex cases and longer Public Inquiries ! And how many lawyers do we have in Parliament one asks ?
So what you say is spot on, but you have to go much higher up the political structure to identify the true source of much of this waste.

14 September 2013 18:00  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

A visionary post Brother Ivo, and lovely too. If only it could all work out like that we would be well on the way to prosperity.
But, I fear any money the government gets its hands on will be frittered away on those who shout the loudest for what they want, that is if it isn't used to plug a big gap as is so often the case in reality. So instead of your sensible suggestions we'll probably end up with another mega mosque and more silly projects that pander to our friends in rags and veiled faces.
We seem unable to say no to their threats, what with burkas in university and now in court in front of a jury, there is no end to their demands. Money sure opens doors eh.

14 September 2013 18:50  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

London’s success

‘He [John Cleese] added that he preferred living in Bath to London because the capital no longer felt “English”.’—Daily Telegraph

‘We’re leaving because we can. Just another working couple, worn out by inner London. It takes energy to ignore the rubbish that swirls about our feet as we pick our way home from work; it’s an effort to turn a blind eye to the repellent antisocial behaviour that marks out too many bus journeys.’—Graeme Archer in the Daily Telegraph

‘I, too, have decided to leave my area [Acton], following in the footsteps of so many of my neighbours. I don’t really want to go. I worked long and hard to get to London, to find a good job and buy a home and I’d like to stay here. But I’m a stranger on these streets and all the “good” areas, with safe streets, nice housing and pleasant cafés, are beyond my reach. I see London turning into a place almost exclusively for poor immigrants and the very rich.’—Jane Kelly in the Daily Telegraph

From my point of view—just the other side of the Ribble estuary to Blackpool—London looks more and more like a failure.

14 September 2013 19:20  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Johhny R @ 19:20

I've come across that John Cleese statement before.

What staggers me, given his unceasing efforts to ridicule the existing order out of existence, is his tone of surprise.

It's like a relentless fox hunter complaining about an absence of foxes. Guess why? You helped kill them off.

14 September 2013 20:18  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

One is impressed at how Inner London especially is now run by immigrants for immigrants. Large employers in these areas seem to be the probation service and social working. We have another Washington DC in the making...

14 September 2013 20:34  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Wonderful thing memory, when it is activated...

Some years ago, one’s father, involved as he was in the Irish circle in Cheltenham, told this man that an Irish club in central London had been awarded a grant by the local ruling communist party, under an ‘ethnic culture’ program or thereabouts. No small money either, it ran to thousands.

Presumably, anything obviously English operating as a club in the area wouldn’t have been eligible !



14 September 2013 20:46  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Some interesting facts on fracking and sinkholes presented in an amusing way from Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faLG-q3SR5c

14 September 2013 21:30  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

One suspects that had oil shale been detected beneath the Houses of Parliament, fracking would NOT be considered as 'appropriate', just as the smoking ban isn’t...

14 September 2013 22:05  
Blogger LEN said...

Fracking seems to have somewhat of an 'unknown quantity.'
Fracking will quite possibly have serious negative environmental affects, possibly causing Earth quakes(certainly Earth tremors resulting in damage to property )and guess who will be paying for all the compensation claims?.
There is also the pollution aspects to consider.
Those in the South have organised themselves into protests groups perhaps those who propose to make money out of 'Fracking' are hoping that those in the North will be easier to deal with?.

And HS2 who needs it?.We are told
to 'cut back' on everything then our Government wants to throw billions at a rail network nobody seems to want or need?.

14 September 2013 23:31  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Len
People living on or near a fracking site wont be able to get house insurance as it will be deemed too dangerous to insure or extremely expensive.
I would also think that farmers or anyone with land would be persuaded by the fracking companies to allow them to suck the water out of their land for a price of course. Facking uses an awful lot of water, what will the rest of us drink? Water which explodes and is contaminated with cancer causing chemicals.

15 September 2013 00:50  
Blogger plishman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

15 September 2013 01:08  
Blogger plishman said...

Is corporate theatre (the use of the job title 'executive' etc.) in public sector organizations ever anything but a figleaf for embezzlement, and in particular the siphoning of public funds to political charities having one social rationalist, atheistic common purpose?

15 September 2013 01:23  
Blogger malpas said...

Surely the future of the uk is as a dormitary suburb of Europe.
The continued pressure of multiculturism combined with the major industry of welfare means those that will - will commute to france or germant while the rest will spend their time as state personel.
The concept of countryside and beauty will be regarded as antisocial.
And only farmns will be left for cultivation - the rest will become urban in one way or another.

15 September 2013 06:13  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Marie said:

People living on or near a fracking site wont be able to get house insurance as it will be deemed too dangerous to insure or extremely expensive.

I don't know where you got that guff from, Marie. Speaking as someone who owns a house and lives practically next door to the fraqcking rig at Preece Hall, near Blackpool (waves at JohnnyR) I can tell you that your claim is weapons grade BS.

15 September 2013 06:54  
Blogger Gnostic said...

LEN, the Preece Hall micro-earthquakes so loved by our home grown breed of misanthropic alarmists were caused by the local geology. There are thousands of feet of salt, marls, mudstones, clays, low grade limestone and other sedimentary layers above the shale. The microquakes were caused by minor plane slippage when the borehole was test fracked. The quakes were so faint they could only be detected by instruments. A passing Smart cart would cause more vibration.

The recent minor earthquake off Fleetwood had nothing to do with fracking. The Blackpool area does suffer from minor earthquakes from time to time and that was before any of us had heard of fracking.

15 September 2013 07:03  
Blogger Brother Ivo said...

Brother Len,

Don't forget that Henry Ford said that when he developed the motor car, had he asked ordinary people, they would have to,d him they wanted a faster horse.

Fracking is not a new and unknown quantity and in the USA is already making a major contribution to energy independence. The " exploding water" myth has long itself been exploded. Don't forget that in that litigation obsessed culture, if there were any truth in these scare stories, the investors would be running a mile.

15 September 2013 08:33  
Blogger IanCad said...

I say "Drill Baby, Drill."

We need all the oil we can get.

Fracking is a proven technique with little environmental impact.

As to the distribution of the revenues: let the market take care of that.

Of a certainty there should be no further contributions to the obsolete university industry.

15 September 2013 08:47  
Blogger JW said...

Splendid!
Another article about how dreadful the North is. Up here we encourage this Southern myth to the greatest possible extent.
Apart from the stunning scenery of the Lakes, Yorkshire Dales, Northumberland etc,the much under-rated weather,friendly people, (relatively) quiet roads and (again relatively)affordable housing we insist that we have absolutely nothing to recommend to you
Our only worry is that one day you might come up and check.

15 September 2013 08:59  
Blogger LEN said...

It seems to me (I am no scientist) that' fracking' is giving the earth a damn good shaking to release gas /oil deposits and to drive them upward.IF there are cavities within the' fracking areas' then these will collapse under hydraulic pressure.

I certainly wouldn`t like this going on at the bottom of MY garden and would want it done as far away as possible.(Perhaps down South?.

When North sea oil was first discovered we were all told we had collectively' struck it rich' that didn`t happen either.



15 September 2013 09:42  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ Gnostic (06:54)—[Waves back.]

15 September 2013 11:45  
Blogger Gnostic said...

LEN, the borehole is only a few inches across and the shale is thousands of feet down. The ground in this part of the world is all sedimentary because it once lay beneath a shallow sea which is what gave us the Cheshire salt deposit. The same salt deposit that extends beneath parts of west Lancashire and northwards towards Cumbria and Scotland.

While you might be worried about living close to a fracking rig I have to tell you that a mass exodus from the area isn't happening despite the best scare tactics of greenie NGOs, Frack Off and their local cheerleaders, RAFF (Residents Against Fylde Fracking).

A far greater danger to the area than Cuadrilla is a company called Halite (formerly Canatxx) who want to store 2 million+ cubic feet of gas under high pressure in bedded salt deposits close to a flooded and collapsed salt mine and 105 old brine wells, one of which is in the process of collapsing to eventually form a brine lake.

Locals already have an example of what happens when a well collapses because a well failed catastrophically and left a huge and very deep hole full of brine in the ground. These things can be up to 110m in diameter and 100m deep, a far greater threat than plane slippage microquakes.

Storing pressurised gas right next to an aging brine well field is something I definitely do not want at the bottom of my garden and the entire community has been fighting this off for years. No such fight has been taken to Cuadrilla. Most locals do not see fracking as much of a threat.

The brine well currently in a state of collapse has produced a crater that is rapidly expanding. The entire area has been fenced off because the sinkhole, when it happens, can swallow an entire field. And we have a company that wants to store millions of cubic feet of pressurised gas in bedded salt caverns a few hundred yards away from an aging brine field even though they would not be allowed to do this back home. It is known that the ceilings of these caverns can and do collapse following the failure of a brine well. Such an accident has cost human lives after the gas migrated under a town and then met an ignition source.

We keep telling Halite to get lost because the geology and bedded (layered) salt deposits are too unstable to store gas in this way and has been outlawed in the US (Halite is a US company). Halite won't give up though because the UK has no such legislation. More recently they've been drilling holes in the ground and shoving explosives down them to "prove" the area is safe even though back home it has been proved tragically otherwise.

Local golfers have been inconvenienced because H&SE closed down the club for two weeks just in case of unforeseen incidents.

On the lighter side, we are caught between a company wanting to pump gas out of the ground and another wanting to pump it back in again.

You couldn't make it up. :D

15 September 2013 11:46  
Blogger LEN said...

Sounds like an explosive situation Gnostic like sitting on a ticking time bomb!.
Another' small detail' about fracking is a process where those frackers(which is suppose is a collection of those fracking?') pump acid down the borehole to melt rocks causing obstructions.Of course exactly where the acid goes after melting those obstructing rocks is unknown?.

15 September 2013 12:16  
Blogger Gnostic said...

LEN - and here was I thinking that they drilled through those pesky rocks.

:0)

15 September 2013 14:00  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

It's not bull shit Gnostic, and there's no need to be so rude.
I think you had better start making enquiries as to whether your house insurance will cover your residential property that has a gas well so close. And looking to the future when the well is fracked out, you take something out of the earth you've got to put something back in otherwise there's a void, a sinkhole. Plenty of them in Texas where they've been fracking like mad. Of course it's not widely broadcast as it's not something the fracking fraternity want you to know but, house insurance companies are wise to the possibility of your house disappearing down one, therefore, are not keen to grant insurance on them. This causes problems if you want to sell to someone who needs a mortgage as the lender requires there to be buildings insurance.

www.grist.org
It's happening in the US where they have and are fracking.

15 September 2013 16:48  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

Here read for yourself.
http://grist.org/climate-energy/fracking-boom-could-lead-to-housing-bust/

15 September 2013 17:29  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

One is reminded of that wind power outfit called “Green Amps”. What a wonderful name ! Conjures up images of several Giga Watts of friendly energy mother earth is just crying to be allowed to give us for nothing. Of course, in one’s own opinion, they are / were nothing more than a money making outfit that would put up as many wind mills as they could get away with, and virtually anywhere at that.

So why ‘fracking’ ? Awful word. The public relations people have failed dismally on this one. And after all, isn’t everything about public relations these days ?

It’s so important that this man had to reluctantly resign his position as a director of the “Big Friendly Tyre Burning company” due to image concerns...

15 September 2013 17:34  
Blogger non mouse said...

Subsidence due to coalmines. Pollution and surface destruction due to opencast mines. And now fracking.

Poor, dear Northern England.

Yet: The enemy know not what they do - they will reap what they have sown. And that's something they'd understand if RI (CoE) were still required in schools.

15 September 2013 20:01  
Blogger Peter Melia said...

Without a doubt, Britain really does need a transport upgrade, after over 200 years, our railways have run out of steam.
Perhaps before stupendous amounts of taxpayer’s money is placed on the next big transport innovation, thought should be given to what went before. Before trains the world had horse-drawn wagons. At the time scarcely anyone noticed the Rocket, but events changed all of that and now no one notices that curiosity the horse‘n’cart. What the train did was not just go faster, forever, but it did so carrying huge numbers of people, or tons of cargo.
In comparison, all that the HSS does is go faster than trains before. It is not even new, there must be at least half a dozen countries around the world running HSS trains, or as the French would call them, TGV’s.
So, the challenge is to replicate the triumph of the Rocket, to carry large numbers of people, or cargo equivalents, faster than before.
Britain’s railways need to be re-thought, from scratch.
Carrying lots of people fast is superficially, easy enough, the French are routinely operating very fast double-deck trains. However, they have reached their limit. Unlike a ship, there is no possibility of putting an extra deck on their doubled trains. The only option is making them longer. But the French double-deck fast trains are already doubled up, that is two train units coupled together, giving a sixteen car trains with four driving units.
So height and length are out.
That leaves only width. Sometime in the future, someone is going to have to bite the bullet and design wider trains. It would appear realistic to base the design on the existing container, which is the worldwide transport unit. The new trains must be able to carry cargo in units easily transferred to road vehicles, containers.
So we are likely to see fast trains, two decks high and three containers wide, (say sixteen cars long).
Fantastic? We are talking about Britain’s (and the world’s) terrestrial transport system for the next two centuries.
Could be a better way of spending a lot of money than HSS.
Just a thought.

15 September 2013 22:11  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Marie, I have recently renewed my house insurance. There has been no significant rise other than the usual small inflationary one. So yes, you are talking BS. That the reality does not meet your expectations and you refuse to believe it says more about you than me.

As for Grist, it is a climate alarmist rag: science lite and scare heavy. They blame AGW for everything. They tried to link the Japanese tsunami on global warming FFS. Using thousands of deaths to try and sell their nonsense to the world. When they were savaged by their own readership they had to revise their POV.

If that is the source of your information then more fool you.

16 September 2013 07:10  
Blogger LEN said...

Be interesting to see the reaction from insurance companies when the first claim goes in for subsidence near a fracking site?.

16 September 2013 10:31  
Blogger IanCad said...

Peter Melia,

Good Thinking!

It is a sad fact that we all tend to prefer adaptation to change.

Note Brother Ivo's fixation with the totally anachronistic university system.

Our railroad guages are based upon the width of the old Roman roads.
Two thousand years is a long time ago, it's about time for a change.

16 September 2013 11:09  
Blogger Gnostic said...

LEN by your own logic we should be seeing significant parts of the US, Gulf states and South American countries like Venezuela sinking from billions of barrels of oil oil and gas extraction.

Likewise the millions of tons of oil extracted from the East Midlands oil field doesn't seem to have caused subsidence problems or increased insurance premiums.

Nowhere in the Fylde or Over Wyre areas have house premiums rocketed. Not even after the oft mentioned earthquakes which were so small no one, other than monitoring instrumentation, felt them.

Marie's claim is just another anti-fracking scare story and has no foundation in actual terms.

As for any potential claim of subsidence from fracking - I'd be interested to see how they'd prove it. I don't expect my house to fall into a sinkhole any time soon. Not unless some idiot in Westminster overrules Lancashire County Council and gives Halite the green light.

16 September 2013 12:41  
Blogger LEN said...

As I have already said I am no scientist but I believe there could be adverse environmental issues to be discussed regarding 'fracking' regarding health as well as possible structural problems?.
Were I lived in the South water was obtained mainly from' aquifers'.In the 'natural' the gas and the water are typically separated by layers of rock. The key to extracting gas by fracking is to create open fissures in the rock formations for the gas to collect in. Ideally, the process isn’t supposed to create fissures between the gas reserves and the aquifers. Unfortunately, this does occur.
The attitude towards fracking seems to be' go for it' and we will deal with the all the effects later?.

16 September 2013 13:36  
Blogger IanCad said...

I'm with Gnostic on this one.


At current rates of extraction,
(100 million barrels per day) the average subsidence in the oil producing areas of the world works out to less than 1/16" per year.

16 September 2013 13:47  
Blogger Gnostic said...

LEN extracting groundwater and water from aquifers via boreholes will cause subsidence if the process isn't rigorously controlled. However, the Bowland Shale deposit is thousands of feet underground, in places up to 16,000 feet deep. The Fylde aquifer is nowhere near that deep. There's an awful lot of rock between the aquifer and the shale.

16 September 2013 14:35  
Blogger LEN said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

26 September 2013 00:21  
Blogger Len said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

26 September 2013 00:32  
Blogger Len said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

26 September 2013 11:43  

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