The Anonymous Widower

What Is A Pimby?

We all know that a Nimby (Not In My Back Yard!) doesn’t want fracking, a nuclear power station or a new railway to be built or something similar near to where they live.

But I believe, we could see the rise of a new type of protestor – the Pimby or a Please In My Back Yard!

I was reading this article on CleanTechnica, which is entitled Coal-Killing Long-Duration Energy Storage For Vermont (Vermont?!?).

The article is about Highview Power’s planned energy storage facility in Vermont, which I wrote about in Encore Joins Highview To Co-Develop Liquid Air Energy Storage System In Vermont.

This paragraph is from Highview.

“Unlike competing long-duration technologies, such as pumped hydro-power or compressed air, Highview Power’s CRYOBattery™ can be sited just about anywhere. The CRYOBattery has a small footprint, even at multiple gigawatt-levels, and does not use hazardous materials.”

You could imagine a community, , perhaps miles away from the nearest power station, where jobs and economic prospects are being held back by a dodgy power supply.

So the community might start to protest not about building perhaps a gas-fired station to satisfy their electricity needs, but in favour of a Highview Power system and some renewable wind or solar power.

Pimbys might also protest in favour of a new railway station or electrification of their branch line. Providing the power for the latter would be a good use for a Highview system.

December 24, 2019 Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Oxford’s Nimbys Are Getting Angry!

I keep finding articles on the web, like this article on the Oxford Times, which is entitled First Person: The Campaign To Keep Oxfordshire As It Is Now.

The title says it all.

It is all about opposition to the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway, which everybody wants in someone else’s back-yard.

My feelings are as follows.

  • A fully-electrified freight route should be built between Southampton and the West Coast Main Line, preferably with 25 KVAC overhead wiring.
  • The East West Railway should provide at least two fast trains per hour between Heathrow and Cambridge, via Reading, Oxford, Milton Keynes and Bedford.
  • I would accelerate the construction of the East West Railway.

Only as a last project, would I build the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway.

April 27, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

How Not To Handle An Environmental Issue In A Large Project

On my holiday in Poland, I met someone, who lives on the route of HS2.

They told me that a million tons of tunnel spoil will be dumped on farmland in the Chilterns.

I was rather surprised to say the least, as having followed major projects for the best part of forty years, I know that project managers, engineers, architects and construction companies, don’t want hassle from what are collectively termed Nimbys, so they do their utmost to design projects, so that disruption and damage to the environment is minimised.

Crossrail had its problems early on, as Mayfair didn’t want the rsailway or the disruption of ten years of construction. So they devised a strategy based on openness and archaeology, which sold the project to Londoners, as something more than a railway. They have also been very helpful in giving access to the general public in events like Open House.

So I typed “HS2 tunnel spoil” into Google and found this article in the Bucks Free Press, which is entitled HS2 tunnel spoil to be dumped in Chilterns AONB. This is an extract from the article.

The announcement was made by HS2 Ltd’s Country South Area Manager Neil Cowie at a community forum in Little Kingshill on Tuesday.

He said it would be placed within a ‘sizeable area’ within two or three miles of the planned tunnel portal at Mantles Wood near Amersham – but he added HS2 Ltd did not want the location to be made public yet.

Mr Cowie said: “Rather than taking it longer distance along highways, we’ve taken some additional land alongside the route which we will landscape.

“When it’s finished it will be properly landscaped and will look very nice.”

I’m no diplomat, but it does seem a rather poor statement, which probably came out of a forum, where things were not up to scratch.

I’ve been to several Transport for London foums about projects like Camden Town station, Crossrail 2 and Hackney station and at each one, there has been an architect, engineer or project planner, who understands in detail what is proposed.

A later statement in the article says this.

In a later statement, HS2 Ltd said: “We will not being be depositing spoil/excavated materials from tunnelling in the AONB – it will be excavated materials from the cuttings going through the AONB.  All tunnelling excavated materials from that part of the line will be taken out via the Colne Valley construction site.”

When dealing with any sensitive project from a children’s playground upwards, you must get your facts right! Once errors are in the local culture, they can only be eradicated with great difficulty and tremendous expense.

With respect to HS2, my project management and engineering instincts lead me to the conclusion, that HS2 will probably come up with an innovative and non-disruptive way to remove the tunnel spoil from the area.

If they don’t, then they don’t deserve to be building the line.

January 28, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

These Protesters Give Nimbys A Bad Name

I did laugh when I saw this article about Crossrail 2 in the Metro.

It is the sort of selfish protest that gives protesters and Nimbys a bad name.

As someone, who has lived through the upgrading of the North and East London Lines to create the London Overground, I have seen how better transport links create prosperity for a wide range of people of all levels of wealth.

But then any poor people have been ridden out of Chelsea on a rail!

If I’m still alive when Crossrail 2 opens, I will take the line to Chelsea and stare at my betters. Probably with my tongue

On second thoughts I won’t, as Chelsea is jammed solid with Chelsea tractors. Protesters like those, will only be satisfied if they had a free motorway to the rest of

October 4, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Fracked Or Fiction

I went to the London Geological Society today to see a lecture called.

Fracked or fiction: so what are the risks associated with shale gas exploitation?

The lecture is described here on their web site.

They will put up a video in two or three weeks, which you can watch to make your own mind up.

My overwhelming conclusion after the lecture was that before we can embrace fracking in earnest, we must collect a lot more information. For example, we don’t know the background levels ofearthquakes and natural gas seepage in this country. So if say it is thought, that fracking had caused a small earthquake, can we be sure that that isn’t one that we habitually get in this country.

A secondary conclusion, is that my engineering knowledge indicated that there are several very fruitful areas for the development of new technological solutions to mitigate some of the possible problems of fracking.

Stopping fracking is probably an easy task for opponents, as it can be portrayed as dangerous in several ways, that appeal to the sensationalist media.  And of course the benefits of low gas prices aren’t so obvious, until they actually happen.

You can compare fracking with that other nimby-opposed project; HS2. This can be opposed in terms of noise, vibration and construction and visual disturbance cost, but the benefits of better and faster journeys is easier to understand by the man on the Birmingham train.

April 16, 2014 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

And We Think We’ve Got Nimbys!

This article on the BBC’s web site shows that nimbys get everywhere, even in Italy. But it is a fascinating article about a rail tunnel between Italy and France. Christian Fraser, the author, puts this case in favour of the tunnel.

The pro-tunnellers employ a mixture of hyperbole and hard-nosed economic home truths as they argue for the project. The Atlantic will reach out to the Urals via this new link, they cry. Freight trains will zoom to and fro, boosting the shambling economies of southern Europe. Of greater interest to British tourists – skiers like me – is that the journey time from London to Milan will be cut to just six hours.

With those against as follow.

The naysayers insist that the tunnel will be an ugly, expensive white elephant. They point out that the existing trans-Alpine road and rail routes seem to cope very nicely, thank you. They claim that projections of traffic were drawn up 20 years ago and are hopelessly out-of-date. And they are worried about potentially dangerous minerals that are buried underneath the mountains being released into the air and water.

Hand on heart, even the keenest of protesters would struggle to claim the Susa Valley was an area of outstanding beauty. A narrow pass, it is already crammed with the clutter of human development – a motorway stalks across the valley floor on gigantic stilts, elevated above railway lines, quarries and factories.

But he also describes the action taking place.

In Italy, they have lobbied tenaciously – and at times violently – in their fight against the rail link between Lyon and Turin. Some 400 people were injured in clashes with the police last year when the tunnel site was first fenced off.

I know that area reasonably well, as I’ve driven through it and flown over it in a light aircraft several times. It is one of those areas, where if asked to dig a tunnel, your first action would be to ask if there was an easier route.

I don’t know the economics of this rail route, but I suspect that in the future some route will be completed to allow passengers to take the train from London and Paris to Rome or Milan.

February 15, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Effect Of Freight on Rail

A few years ago there were only three freight trains a day out of Felixstowe.  Now because of new infrastructure in the docks, there are over thirty.

One side effect of this, has been a very large reduction of trucks on the A14.

Before we build large numbers of  new roads, we should make sure that the rail freight network is as efficient as possible.

One trouble with rail freight is that it needs terminals for local distribution  near major conurbations and these developments tend to bring out the nimbys in large numbers.

But you can’t have truck-free main roads, without interfaces between long-distance freight trains and local deliveries.

March 19, 2012 Posted by | News, Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Miners Have a Go at the Iron Lady

The BBC has reported that the Iron Lady film has had protests in Chesterfield, which lost their coal mines, when she was Prime Minister.

My view is straightforward.  Coal is a dirty fuel, that causes lots of ill health and is a major cause of global warming. Even with the small number of pits we have now, the death of miners is not unknown.

Mrs. Thatcher may have been the Prime Minister, who actually shut the mines, but in my view it was done about twenty years at least too late.

North Sea oil and gas, gave us the opportunity to abandon coal production and it should have been done in a managed and gradual way. I’d love to know, whether Prime Ministers before Mrs. Thatcher had thought of shutting the mines.  After all, when the railways abandoned steam engines, a lot of coal wasn’t needed any more. So do those who want more mining jobs, want steam trains as well? And domestic coal fires, which created the smog of the sixties? Many days, I had to walk home from school in thick pea soup.

I should also say, that I’ve met quite a few people, from mining families and all were advised to get an education and avoid going down the pits.

How have other countries weaned themselves off coal? I found this article about the rise and fall of the German coal industry. It seems that German industry has managed to survive the loss of its prime energy source.

I suspect they have managed the run down of their industry much better.  I can remember a proposal in The Guardian to use redundant miners to insulate our rather poor housing stock. Nothing happened, as far as I know!

We don’t learn either! Most of our vehicles are powered by fossil fuel, which don’t help the stopping of global warming. So when we bring forward proposals to help like wind, wave and tidal power, new electricity networks and rail lines, the Nimbys come out in force.

We can’t have it both ways, even if the Americans and the Chinese think they can.

I think I’ll prefer to go to hell on my two legs, a bicycle or a New Bus for London, rather than a fossil-fuel powered handcart.

January 12, 2012 Posted by | News | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Are All The Containers Going?

I found this table in the December 2011 edition of Modern Railways. It shows the total number of freight trains per day at a number of points on the rail network for the three years 2011, 2020 and 2030.

Colchester –  39 21 32

March – 34 85 98

Huntingdon – 10 38 63

Kettering – 18 19 19

Tring – 65 87 132

Pangbourne – 53 93 125

Action Grange – 60 130 171

As many of these trains will be 30 to 40 boxes long, I’m sure that there will be a lot of complaints from the Nimbys, who thought they’d bought a quiet cottage in the countryside and now find they’ve got one heavy freight train every half hour.  Some will even run in the depths of the night.

But at least the increase will get the trucks off the road.


December 2, 2011 Posted by | News, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Nimbys and Bananas

An eminent professor of engineering at a top level university has just told me about the term Banana or Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything. Or perhaps Near Anyone.

There are a lot more here in the Wikipedia definition of Nimby.

All of these people are usually members of the Council for the Fossilisation of Rural England.

I of course prefer a scientifically correct approach.

August 29, 2011 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment