Reader’s letters - Wednesday February 18, 2015

Entertainer Bez at last month's anti-fracking protest at County Hall, in Preston
Entertainer Bez at last month's anti-fracking protest at County Hall, in Preston
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Politicians letting us down

Is Lancashire under siege by this Coalition Government? We thought that when Labour’s 16 safeguarding amendments to the Infrastructure Bill were passed by the House of Commons on January 26 we might have had some protection from the dangers of fracking in our area.

However, Labour amendments to the Bill were voted down by the House of Lords and this week the Coalition Government - the Tories in particular - backtracked on what was agreed.

Now the new Act will see National Parks and groundwater protection zones at risk from fracking. Other changes reversed last week included residents being notified on an individual basis of shale gas operations in their area, gas leaks other than methane being recorded and a legal requirement for environmental impact assessments at sites.

Amanda Rudd, the energy minister at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, said: “In the case of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and National Parks, given their size and dispersion, it might not be practical to guarantee that fracking will not take place under them in all cases without unduly constraining the industry.”

The new act also does not define what constitutes a groundwater area, causing ambiguity despite Environment Agency definitions already existing. Many MPs were critical that they had only one hour to discuss the issue and there was no time to vote on many of the bill’s amendments.

It is obvious this government is determined to push through fracking whatever the consequences. Especially in Lancashire.

And if TTIP becomes law companies such as Cuadrilla could sue any future UK government that wanted to take the health and well-being of its citizens more seriously than this one apparently does. For Lancashire the problem is not only the fracking process itself, which may now be pursued without the stronger safeguards proposed by Labour and accepted in the first amended draft of the Infrastructure Bill, but the hundreds of trips by tanker lorries along our rural lanes which are necessitated by fracking.

Where is the stewardship of our green and pleasant land?

Canon Andrea Titterington, Fulwood

Solution to the noisy wagons

I recall about 40 years ago Shell, the major petrol company, had a road vehicle, an eight wheeler (four-axle tanker) based at Preston Dock which was virtually silent.

It was fitted with a Rolls Royce V8 petrol engine. It was designed for delivering domestic fuel oil in London during the night and so designed for near-silent operation so as not to disturb sleeping residents.

Cuadrilla is faced with requiring to face up to a perceived noise problem going to and from their fracking sites.

By purchasing similar vehicles, driven by excellent, considerate drivers, as do the petrol companies, they would produce less noise than ordinary diesel-engined trucks delivering to farms and tractors which are working in local fields.

Since petrol is cheaper than diesel fuel, that too is more appealing. I am sure Cuadrilla is anxious to comply as much as is reasonably possible to what is required of them.

Rolls Royce and the makers of similar eight-wheelers would be delighted to take a similar order again.

Alec Taylor, Grimsargh

Sums add up to giving the sack

Reserves of £280m plus £52m windfall minus £241m savings equals £91m still in the bank.

Sack all those who expect us to pay increased council tax payments.

Name and address supplied

Fears for future of our hospitals

As hospitals declare major incidents in their emergency departments and ambulances full of sick and injured people queue for hours I find it fascinating that the Conservative minister responsible for our hospitals is blindly insisting all is well in the very hospital A&E departments and wards at the very same time staff on the frontline are describing them as being like war zones.

The NHS definition of a major incident shows the Conservatives and everyone else the situation for what it is, “any occurrence that presents a serious threat to the community, disruption to service, or causes such number of, or types of casualty, as to require special arrangements to be implemented by hospitals, ambulance trusts or primary care organisations.”

I think we should add to that definition, four and a half years of David Cameron selling off health services to the private sector, overlooking chronic understaffing and throwing £3bn of our taxes into a top down restructure of the NHS that before the last election he promised he would never undertake. Our NHS will not survive another five years of this man at the helm.

M Fisher, Eccleston, Chorley

Welfare reform is now working

Reforms to the welfare system has been a key element of Conservative thinking, both locally and nationally, as Universal Credit is rolled out across the UK having been trialled in the area. This approach helped encourage people back into work and making a positive impact on society, in South Ribble unemployment rates have reduced by half in the past year to under one per cent.

The benefit cap ensures households in South Ribble don’t continue to claim up to £160 per week above the £26,000 annual benefit limit that has been case prior to these vital reforms.

These changes ensure work pays, ending the dependency culture created under the disastrous Labour years which created an environment where a life on benefits became an acceptable lifestyle choice.

Local Conservatives have also committed to fund a Personal Budgeting Service to support these reforms in order to help those in difficulty and promote personal responsibility.

Coun Warren Bennett, Coupe Green and Gregson Lane Ward, South Ribble Council