Monday, 7 August 2017

How does AI square the CO2 emissions from its 2.5 million mile haulage route?

As parts of Europe experience their most extreme heat in more than a decade, the news on climate change keeps getting worse:
For those worried about the world our children or grand children will inherit, one study now puts the chance of us hitting the Paris climate goals at just 5%:
“Our results show that an abrupt change of course is needed to achieve these goals.”
“If we want to avoid 2C, we have very little time left. The public should be very concerned.”
But despite all that, despite all the sobering news on wildfires, droughts, flooding and ice caps melting, some companies shamefully act as though climate change is not their problem.

Take Aggregate Industries' ludicrous plan to haul every load of as-dug material from Straitgate to Hillhead for processing: a total of 105,000 HGV movements, a total of 2.5 million CO2 belching miles.

Over all the years of following this debacle, we've not come across anything similar - where 23 miles of public roads separate quarry face and processing plant, where 46 miles is clocked up before the product is even sold. And why would we? Profit margins on sand and gravel normally restrict the supply radius to 30 miles or so.

It is noted that current ES does not provide the information on comparative transportation distances and CO2 emissions, and the applicant is requested to explain why the previous view on the unsustainability of Hillhead Quarry as a location for processing materials from Straitgate Farm appears to have changed.
Policy M12 establishes the principle of extraction at Straitgate Farm, but one of the key requirements of supporting Appendix C is that “transportation of extracted materials for processing elsewhere should meet the requirements of Objective 1 and Policy M22 for minimal transportation by road” [Objective 1 also seeks to minimise generation of greenhouse gases].
Policy M12, M22 and Objective 1 are from the newly adopted Devon Minerals Plan. Objective 1:
Within geological constraints, secure a spatial pattern of mineral development that delivers the essential resources to markets within and outside Devon while minimising transportation by road and generation of greenhouse gases, supporting the development of its economy while conserving and enhancing the County’s key environmental assets.
Because, as the Minerals Plan says, "One of the biggest challenges facing Devon’s communities and environment, together with the wider world, is climate change driven by global warming." 3.4.1, so much so that "Mitigation of and adaptation to climate change is a key consideration and statutory duty for the Devon Minerals Plan, and will be a cross-cutting theme for the Strategy." 2.2.4

Determination of the Straitgate Farm application - an application that maximises transportation distances and greenhouse gases - will be one of the first tests for this new Plan.

The Applicant considers that Hillhead Quarry is the only viable solution in terms of its processing requirements. 8.1
Hillhead Quarry is now deemed the most sustainable option as Blackhill Quarry has been discounted as a processing location notwithstanding that CO2 emissions from HGV’s will be comparatively higher than the previously favoured Blackhill Quarry option due to haulage distances. This is partly offset, as a proportion of ex-Straitgate mineral products supplies markets in the mid-Devon area, in close proximity to Hillhead Quarry.
Furthermore… if high polished stone value (PSV) mineral is not extracted from Straitgate Farm then it will need to be imported from elsewhere. The comparative importation distances will be considerably greater than the distance from Straitgate Farm to Hillhead Quarry therefore in this respect...
As with everything AI says, this is worth scrutinising. The Transport Assessment helpfully tells us that:
so "partly offset" means by about 10%.

On the high PSV issue, and if we ignore the 4 million tonnes of sand and gravel at Hillhead - the same BSPB resource as at Straitgate Farm - and the piles of unprocessed oversized cobbles that are already building up there, this is not quite what it seems either. The majority of the Straitgate resource would not end up in the high PSV market - which is relatively small. Any increased comparative importation distances for this product would be dwarfed by the multi-million mile haulage plan to get Straitgate material to Hillhead in the first place.

AI says it "will endeavour to utilise as many return loads as possible". But how successful would that be? Most of the processed material would be transported by third party hauliers, as AI has made clear before:
Whereas the transport of unprocessed mineral to an off-site processing plant would be in vehicles under the control of the operator, either company-owned vehicles or under a haulage contract with terms and conditions, the export and sales of mineral product would involve third party hauliers. 5.31
There's no getting away from the fact that AI’s haulage plan would mean a lot of pollution. We calculate it's about ‘30 tonnes of NOX air pollution and 4,500 tonnes of CO2’; AI's calculations are nowhere to be seen. This is what the company said on the matter for its last application: