Sunday, December 02, 2007

Greenwash the United Utilities way

It seems the institutions that are for this road are really now stepping up their efforts to marginalise the public from the facts.

United Utilities (UU) have now brought themselves into the firing line. An article in this week's Advertiser - which is clearly a press release from UU - waxes lyrical about how the Longdendale Trail really is a wildlife haven. This is the same week that has seen an article in the Glossop Chronicle trying to demolish hope for any plans to reopen the Woodhead Tunnel to rail traffic. Is all of this press coverage a coincidence?

The position of United Utilities in this one is very curious indeed. Their links with TMBC are not that well know, but the most direct and undeniable one is the fact that they enrol their employees into the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, a fund that is administered by TMBC, with Roy Oldham as Chairman. We've heard mutterings about shady financial deals done between TMBC & UU over The Kingswater/Waterside Park development years ago, in which TMBC paid millions to UU via a front company, in order the buy their land, despite the fact that the project was subject to tens of thousands of objections from the public.

Why have UU been keeping silent about the implications for their assets that the bypass will bring? As one of the largest landowners in the area, acres of their assets will be detrimentally affected by this road. Isn't it strange that they have not objected? But by the same token, they haven't supported the proposal. Is that because they don't want to be asked tricky questions at the PI?

Interestingly, they have objected to the alternatives to the bypass. And this info is in the public domain.

If one looks at their objection, one is immediately struck by the fact it is in the language of a less than worldly or literate individual - the use of the word LOTS in block capitals is almost laughable. What's more, since alternative 1 envisages the construction of only a small bit of road from the Showground roundabout, we're at a loss to understand why this is more destructive than a dirty great dual carriageway across the North of Longdendale - i.e. the bypass. And we could go on about the fact that this objection amounts to 1 side of A4, but that's surely too obvious.

UU's website has a page for the Longdendale Trail, but not Swallow's Wood. Visitors to Swallow's Wood will know that the reserve is not exactly actively managed by UU. Has another deal taken place, whereby UU's silence has been bought? Has someone 'sweetened the deal' to make the compulsory purchase of thousands of acres of their land more palatable?

Keep that in mind while reading the article about the Longdendale Trail. Any 'neglected' area stands a good chance of 'returning to nature', but equally any plans to re-use an existing trackbed for trains are in no way as grievous as the plans to destroy Swallows Wood with a brand new road. UU's silence over the devastation of their asset, Swallows Wood, is both conspicuous and deafening. I for one smell a huge cagney-esque rat.

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