Saturday, January 02, 2010

Snow Stories (2)

I think we knew before we heard that it was the coldest December for 10 years, with the promise of more on the way next week.

Local councils have been following through well-rehearsed gritting and plouging routines since before Christmas - with more or less success. There has been a temptation in recent years, with milder winters, to cut or slash gritting budgets and reduce the total mileage covered. I'm pleased to say that this has been a trend that Darlington has more or less resisted, although there are some examples nearby of big councils doing precisely the opposite, and coming in for heavy criticism as a result.

During that very brief thaw, however, another problem was beginning to come to light. The prolonged freeze seems to have created damage to the road infrastructure across the town. Where there were potholes waiting to be repaired, then the impact of the ice and salt has often made things far worse.

The 2 photos above illustrate the point. The lower photo is of the road surface at the junction of Wylam Avenue and Thompson Street East in my ward. Recently, two residents raised the problem with us here and on Thompson Street East itself, and we duly took up the issue with the Council. We were promised patching for Wylam Avenue (within 20 days), and some more structural work on Thompson Street East, where the problems are more deep set.

Of course, the bad weather will have set back the work, but when I visited Wylam Avenue on Friday, the holes were bigger, as the edges had begun to break up. The top photo is of Barnard Street in the town centre yesterday afternoon. A whole chunk of asphalt has come away as the ice has melted.

Once the cold spell is over, I suspect councils up and down the country will have to review their response to prolonged cold weather, to assess whether changes will have to be made. This will have to be in the wider context of global warming, of course, where the broader challenges we face, as far as roads and pavements are concerned, centre on the damage caused by flooding and very hot summers.


james said...

On earlier posts there were comments that doubted climate change on the basis of this cold spell, but it's worth bearing in mind the extreme weather conditions that we will face in summer as well as winter.

Paul Cain said...


You chaps really ought to consult more closely so you keep your robotic mantras consistent.

What is it: Climate change or global warming?

Climate change? Even the Met Office, which uses substantial public funds to push to so-called AGW agenda, says we regularly had winters like these in the 60s and 70s, the 30s and 40s and for decades before that.

Global Warming? The liars behind the Climategate emails admitted the planet has cooled since 1998 and it was a 'travesty' that they could not prove warming.

(And I admit to finding it a little difficult to take this all seriously as I skidded through about a foot and a half of solid global warming trying to get back to Darlington from Carlisle on Saturday afternoon.)

By the way, Councillor, I posted on earlier thread about the Climategate mails, asking if you thought the science was still settled. I don't think you replied.

Can you do us the courtesy of telling us if you still think the science is settled?

Given that you are the Cabinet member for so-called climate change, don't you think some kind of response on this forum is justified?

james said...

"The liars behind the Climategate emails admitted the planet has cooled since 1998 and it was a 'travesty' that they could not prove warming."

So, if Climategate proves one group of scientists to be dishonest - does that discredit research carried out separately by other climatologists?

Scientific inquiry is obviously never over, but the consensus is that carbon emissions are causing temperature rises.

Nick is not merely cabinet member for climate change, sustainability is in there as well.

Perhaps the bigger challenges for Darlington will be in adapting to resource depletion and changes in energy generation.

Ex-Labour said...

It's all a load of scaremongering hokum with the long term view of taxing something!
Paul is right I to cannot complete my journeys due to a foot of global warming as for carbon emmissions let China sort it's first then our tiny island can follow.
As for researchers lying they were probably all Nu Labour!

james said...


The costs of high carbon energy sources will increase. The UK already has an energy gap due to the decline in North Sea gas and oil and is now a net importer.

Meeting the need for energy efficiency and renewable forms of energy generation will create lots of jobs in future. Already lots of firms in our region are involved in manufacturing green technologies.

Whatever you think of climate change, carbon is still an issue.

all the best,

ianw said...

James; what about the nuclear alternative to coal and gas?

james said...

Nuclear power stations require an input - uranium - that has to be imported. That's why nuclear power isn't renewable. Still, we rely on nuclear for a small but significant percentage of electricity generation, and maintaining nuclear capacity will be important.

miketually said...

Nuclear needs uranium, of which there's a finite supply. In not very long (I've heard 30 years, but don't know how accurate that figure is) it'll take more energy to extract the uranium that's left than the uranium will provide.

Nuclear power is also a very expensive option.

We might need it to fill a short term demand, or to provide a back-up, but it's not a long-term solution.

Darlington Councillor said...

Unfortunately, replying to posts is a bit difficult at present - no internet access at home - but just to respond to Paul's earlier question - yes, I do believe the science of man-made climate change is settled, as do the vast majority of the world's scientists working in this field.

I'm aware of the mischief that deniers have tried to create over the selective quoting of a few emails from a single UK university, but none of the allegations go anywhere near to refuting the mass of evidence which points conclusively to the catastrophic alteration in our climate that is currently taking place.

A pertinent question which the media does not seem to be particularly interested in, is who hacked these accounts and why?

It is clear that responding to the challenge of climate change won't simply mean jacking up nuclear power or other power sources - it will require the fundamental re-ordering of our socity and the way it operates.

I'm afraid that there are plenty at the top of the tree who are quite happy with the status quo, thank you very much, even if wilfully ignoring the realities of climate change places our childremn and their off-spring at risk.

ianw said...


What does this mean "it will require the fundamental re-ordering of our socity and the way it operates."

I am always dubious when the word order appears?

Personally I still think it is all a bunch of greenies panicing over nothing, or a prelude to more taxes as do many others I speak with.

Regardless of who and why these emails were leaked they were still wrote and I assume at the time the writer was being honest?

james said...

Ian, as I said, the pressing issue for the UK will be resource depletion.

The recent cold snap has meant that to ensure domestic supply, restrictions on use have been imposed on companies which are consume large amounts.

To be sustainable we need to have energy sources which are renewable - this way we're more secure from interruptions to supply or price fluctuations.

I'm pretty sure that's all Nick meant by "re-ordering". ;-)