Reader’s letters - Thursday March 12, 2015

Fracking can lead to benefits for jobs, farming and tourism, says one correspondent after a visit to America
Fracking can lead to benefits for jobs, farming and tourism, says one correspondent after a visit to America
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Danger of lack of defence

We as a nation are entering a frightening situation which we may look back on with great regret sometime in the near future.

It is not the impending General Election rhetoric that we are assaulted with daily by the various protagonists, but the recent pronouncement by a Tory-led, Coalition Government stating that they can no longer afford the two per cent GDP expenditure on our UK defence budget.

This is the insurance policy that we as a nation have willingly paid over the years to ensure that dictators are given pause for thought at the retaliatory cost of action. This is particularly strange when Cameron is quite happy to commit multi-million pound payments of our taxes to uphold African governments in so-called ‘overseas aid’.

If a Tory-led Coalition is unwilling to continue to finance our defence budget expenditure, what prospects have we that any new Coalition Government following this election will do so?

Cameron by his various pronouncements seems hell-bent on ensuring that he is not re-elected, but the country will then be likely left facing a prospective weak Labour Party coalition with the SNP, which has already declared it wants rid of the nuclear deterrent submarine base.

Little wonder our American allies are becoming more outspoken about the weakness they see developing in our present course, and the inability of the UK to provide them with future support in Europe and elsewhere. We have grown fat and lazy as a nation and we shall shortly be reaping the reward of our lack of preparation in an ever growing dangerous world, unless sanity prevails.

E J Tilley, Chorley

US trip shows shale benefits

Anti-fracking arguments are based on the common themes of few jobs, and damage to farming and tourism. If production takes place there will be people employed on site and many, many more on other aspects. Claims of a “desolate industrial zone” are pure scaremongering, as our visit to the area north of Williamsport (Bradford County) in Pennsylvania showed when we visited last year. It was a fine, wooded hilly area. Further employment prospects had improved for many as we were told by locals.

For the Fylde, as well as direct fracking employment, there would be opportunities for supply chain growth and the Blackpool and Fylde National Energy College will help those to find work. Worries over farming and tourism are a common objection to fracking and it is interesting to note how both farming and tourism have increased since fracking started there in 2007. Both tourism and agriculture experienced growth not decline.

I referred to the Pennsylvania Agricultural Census, the latest of which (2012) is available. So much for fracking ruining farming, statistics from 2007 to 2012, for fracking county Bradford, showed that the amount of most crops harvested had increased.

The amount of fertiliser and value of farm machinery also increased. This was the growth period for fracking so it had no bad effect on farming.

On tourism, of particular interest are the figures for the “upstate” region, for instance the north east where the majority of fracking activity has occurred.

Apart from the recession in 2009,there are steady year-on-year increases in both the spending levels ($1.6bn in 2005, $2.2bn in 2012) and levels of employment in the sector (14,000 in 2005, 15,781 in 2012). Wouldn’t it be great if fracking enabled a similar growth in farming productivity and tourism on the Fylde?

I do wish people would not see fracking and renewable energy as alternatives. We need both and both are being developed and, of course, Lord Browne, retiring chairman of Cuadrilla, is an ardent advocate of renewables.

It is time those who oppose fracking do so from a more evidenced understanding, rather than repeat the scare stories which are without foundation.

Michael Roberts, Garstang

George used to patrol reservoir

I attach a photo of my great grandfather, George Henry Wake. The picture shows him in 1931 with fellow water board staff.

I think it may have been at the opening of the Grimsargh reservoir?

He ‘looked after’ Longridge reservoir until his retirement and, apparently, used to patrol the banks with his Labrador and rifle.

I have a picture which shows him outside his house on Berry Lane when he was 90. He famously bought himself a new ladder for that birthday.

My maternal grandfather, Walter Wake (who also worked for the water board), lived with my grandmother on Chapel Lane, Longridge, with a beautiful view of Longridge reservoir from the rear.

My mum came to live in Lostock Hall when she married my dad, Bernard Joseph Watson, in 1951. She died here in October 2013 in the house my dad built for them (and where I still live).

They had 10 children.

Jane Watson via email

Can you help with request?

Thousands of people from all over the country, including many readers of this newspaper, served at the Royal Navy Shore Training Establishment H.M.S.Collingwood. The HMS Collingwood Association has received a request and I am hoping that one or more of your readers who served there, can help.

We have had a request to track down a Wren or her family and her service history in the following case: “I have in my possession a long service and good conduct medal, written on the side is 42359 J.M Wilson. Chief Wren H.M.S Collingwood. If you know of anyone who could help I would be very grateful”.

We hope to return the medals to her or her family. Can we build a history? Did you serve with Chief Wren J.M. Wilson either when she was a chief or at any time before? 42359, is that near your service number?

Write to Mike Crowe, 7 Heath Road, Lake, Sandown, Isle of Wight PO36 8PG or send details to mike.crowe1@btinternet.com

Those wishing to join the association are just in time for our next reunion at the Hillcrest Hotel, Widnes, April 17 – 20. Email hmscollingwood42@gmail.com or contact Shirley Winn at enquiries@iowtours.com, telephone 01983 405116. Can we reunite the medals at the reunion?

Mike Crowe, Isle of Wight