Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cardiff sustainable city greenwash

Poll says Cardiff’s a green giant Nov 10 2008 by Abby Alford, South Wales Echo

Pictures of Cardiff City Hall recently showing mostly councillors cars. Nice view of the fountain between the cars before it gets covered up for a fairground ride. Listed Bute Park damage before planning permission or as the council tells me "just necessary felling of one tree"!?

As Forum for the Future unveils its latest Index of Sustainable Cities, Roger East asks just what makes a city sustainable "It’s about cutting carbon emissions, improving air and water quality, shifting to renewable energy, boosting green business, growing more local food, reducing waste, providing sufficient and efficient housing, green space, good public transport and access to services!" Well he can't have been to Cardiff.

From the Forum for the future report.

Waste collected per head: Cardiff was unable to provide data and so an average was taken from the other 19 cities.

Biodiversity: data was not available for Cardiff so an average was calculated from the other cities.

ranking for future proofing climate change strategy Cardiff 4 (very Low...4 out 0f 20)

vi) resident satisfaction with green space
Per cent of residents who think that for their local area, over the past three years, that parks and opens spaces have got better or stayed the same. Source: England – Audit Commission
2003/2004 data, Wales – Cardiff City Council service questionnaire, July 2006 data,

vii) resident satisfaction with local bus service England and Wales: percentage of residents satisfied with the local bus service, taken from two different sources: in England
this is a BVPI; the data for Cardiff was taken from the 2006 Cardiff City Council service questionnaire.
Sustainable cities

I am amazed that Cardiff has scored so highly This award is seriously unbalanced and flawed!

The bus service is random and the last bus into the city centre from where I live is 7pm! Very often buses can't pull in to bus stops because of people parking at them and very little parking enforcement happens as the promised deregulation hasn't happened.

Presently the council is promoting Project Green or rather planning to build an incinerator at Cardiff Bay - Over-sized – 2.5 times the amount of residual waste Cardiff produces and will have to bring rubbish in from all over South Wales in a 100 trucks a day! 120,000 tonnes of waste ash per year to be transported to a hazardous waste site in Cheltenham.

We are also campaigning against a new bridge and road for articulated lorries into city centre grade 1 listed Bute Park! Commercialisation of parks is not a sustainable strategy.

This award makes our campaign against this and an incinerator more difficult.

There has also been concern about the new food waste collection being taken all the way to Derby.

There is way too much parking capacity and the council gave into the motoring lobby and reduced higher parking charges. Congestion is appalling. Cars come first. Pedestrians have to put up with 70s style traffic pens in the middle of the road, or lengthy underground tunnels and crossings on one or 2 sides of a crossroads. There are cars parked on cycle lanes everywhere and on pavements. See the pictures here
The traffic noise is high as the road surfaces are rough. Traffic thunders through built up areas at 40mph. Street clutter is everywhere.

Cardiff is far from a shining example. The built environment is a shambles! This does not come out in the survey.
A five minute walk around Cardiff would tell you that. I invite you to join me for a street audit walk from the station to the castle and then to city hall .

The figures are skewed by the quality of education and 'green' businesses! You are misleading potential visitors and making life so difficult for those of us trying to improve the environment when we are told that Cardiff is one of the most sustainable cities in UK.

I made a comment and this is the reply.....

Shining examples?
Hi Anne
Thanks a lot for your comment, the points you raise are really interesting.
With the Index you have to remember that all these positions are relative to one another, so we're not saying that any of these cities are doing fantastically well, just which cities are doing better than others. As I said in my blog post "it doesn’t mean that Bristol is a genuinely sustainable city, it’s just faring better across the board than others in the UK", and in some of the press we've done, our chief executive is quoted as saying that we desperately need shining examples in the UK as we really lack them.
All the best examples of sustainable cities are outside the UK: San Francisco & Portland in the US, Curitiba in Brazil, Vaxjo in Sweden are the best places to look for what can be achieved. We don't think that anywhere in the UK is up to those standards.
So rest assured this isn't an award, it's a report on how cities are currently faring in relation to one another and hopefully a prompt and a reminder that we've got a long way to go.
Good luck with your campaign!

Indicators used - something wrong with the environmental impact and the quality of life is worse with congestion and the difficulty of getting around on public transport or by foot ot cycle.

environmental impact: air pollution by nitrogen oxides, river water quality, ecological footprint (resource use), household waste collected per head

quality of life: Life expectancy from birth, resident satisfaction with green space, satisfaction with local bus services, unemployment, education (% of working age population with NVQ2 or equivalent)

future-proofing: council’s commitment to preparing for climate change, number of local green businesses, percentage of land favouring biodiversity, level of household waste recycling and composting

To download a copy of the report, visit: www.forumforthefuture.org/sustainable-cities08