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Gloucester’s ‘green’ motorway services approved

Plans for a series of ‘green’ motorway services have been approved for the M5 in Gloucester.

The new services will include electric car recharging points, a ban on fast-food retail giants and locally sourced produce available to motorists travelling along the Gloucester Gateway.

Local planners have approved the £35m scheme which will also see petrol stations fitted with grass-coated roofs, vegetable patches beside coach parks and charging facilities for electric and hybrid car drivers, according to The Guardian today.

Environmentally-concerned motorists will be able to make use of the new services from 2013, where they will be situated near to the Cotswolds between junctions 11a and 12 on the M5. Food served at the services will be sourced from within a 30 mile radius.

The developer, Westmorland says the project, due to be completed in just over three years, will use a fifth of the energy of a conventional service area.

The car parks have been designed to allow for charging points for electric vehicles while the filling station can be adapted to biofuel pumps in the future. Inside, fast food chains such as Burger King or McDonald’s will be banned, instead food will come from local farms. Meanwhile the service station building will be made will timber-framed made from douglas fir sustainably taken from the nearby Forest of Dean .

However not everyone approves of the plans. John Marjoram, a Green Party councillor, told the national newspaper he was very disappointed by the decision, and said while he “couldn’t fault them on design, whatever you do to disguise it it’s still a motorway service area”.

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Glenribbeen – Eco-Holidays.

Our strapline is A Holiday Without the Footprint. To that end we try our best to deliver a holiday break that is as environmentally neutral as possible. NB The centre of the Glenribbeen logo is actually the sign used in music to denote neutral => neither sharp nor flat but a return to the status quo.

Glenribbeen Logo

We first started using the ‘strapline’ during the filming of the programme “At Your Service” first shown on the Irish national TV service RTE.

John Brennan managing director of the famous Kenmare Park Hotel had me think up a new ‘line’ to promote our accommodation service – on what was to be live TV! It nearly wrecked my head but I’m quite pleased with the result.

The idea is to say that we can (all of us) actually reduce our footprint on the earth without compromising on our quality of life. In fact we believe we’ve increased it and benefited others as well. It’s been three (3) years since we put a rubbish bin out and while the day must come that we do we don’t expect it to be for another year or two. We recycle everything and make paper briquettes of any newspaper or light cardboard.

Our canoe and bikes/kites garden games are all offered freely. Guests are asked however to ensure their insurance covers their activities and safety gear. as we cannot provide anything other but advice.

We also encourage walking and provide weather-gear, maps, guide-books and soon will add a ‘dry-room’ with shower and drying area to facilitate walkers, fishing-folk and golfers to Glenribbeen.

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A note on Germany’s proposal to add a special environmental tax on air travel

The proposal offers solidarity with Great Britain, which started air travel duties in 2007 and will raise the air tax significantly later this year. Although the details are not yet clear, it is expected that Germany will follow Britain’s model, applying lower duties to shorter flights and penalizing long flights more severely, in relation to their higher emissions. The Industry association IATA estimates the plan would increase ticket prices 12 to 14 euros, on average. But if the British model is followed, long-range flights could be up to 200 euros more.

The first blow across the bow of Germany’s proposal to add a special environmental tax on air travel departing from German airports comes in the form of an accusation that the tax is not “environmental” at all, but merely a desperate attempt to tap new sources of income for the state, at the expense of taxpayers and businesses. But the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain have already dropped taxes on air travel, under pressure from the airline lobby, and after the revenues failed to meet predictions due to lost business as travelers made plans to avoid the extra charge. Clearly, an air travel tax is not a reliable contribution to a balanced budget.

The second blow comes in the form of a threat that airlines will suffer under the tax. The claim may meet deaf political ears though, in light of how airlines have driven the cost of flying so low, making it up in volume.

Also, the airlines point out (correctly) that taking a modern plane is more fuel efficient than driving alone in a car. Is it really necessary to discourage flying? The problem with flying it that the emissions are released high in the atmosphere, where they can cause more problems than an equal amount of emissions from a car on the ground. Furthermore, this overlooks the option of train travel. The European continent benefits from an excellent train network — that is suffering from the competition of the cheap airlines.

And here is the real meat of the matter: if the eco-tax works as an environmental measure, the airlines will lose passengers. That is the point, isn’t it? A business model that prices air travel as a last resort rather than as mass transport could succeed in spite of eco-taxes — but only if there is a level playing field. While Germany and Great Britain are the only countries taking such measures, traffic will merely be diverted to neighboring countries. And people still won’t be taking the train, just hopping shorter flights into an airport without a departure tax intended to discourage flying.

In fact, if Germany wants the air travel tax to work — both in terms of reducing air travel and increasing revenues, the politicians cannot rest on the passage of the new measures. This calls for advocacy, diplomacy, and leadership: convincing the rest of Europe, and the world, to price environmental externalities into the cost of travel is the real challenge.

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About pfiddle

Fiddle teacher - mostly Irish trad. Fiddle, mandolin and concertina. Eco-warrior, won E.U. Green Flower Award for Eco Accommodation. Also Irish (Gold) GHA. Green Hospitality Award. Mad keen on self-build - especially straw-bale and cob. 55 with a full head of (slightly) graying hair. No tattoos or piercings. Fond of animals - but legally so. Fond of food - I eat nothing else. Vegetarian by choice, Irish by the grace of birth, Munster by force of (rugby) arms.

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