Readers' letters - April 17
I don't need a smart meter to tell me that
The latest price rises by British Gas bring up once again the theme of smart meters being imposed on us.
We will all be more informed and more able to make savings, apparently.
Some years ago my energy company installed a smart meter at my home, and we have a little device in our kitchen which supplies us with useless information.
I haven’t the slightest idea what benefit it is to me.
First thing in the morning, the little screen is telling me that my electricity is costing me a rate of 3p per hour.
I assume that this is because my fridge is working.
I put just enough water into my kettle and switch it on and the hourly rate goes up to 49p.
I start again at 3p and switch on my triple A rated washing machine and the figure shoots up to 40p.
Later I use my new tumble drier and that goes up to 40p, too.
I have similar exciting revelations when I move to the gas items.
I have no idea whether or not these figures are accurate, or whether the bill readings are accurate.
The only thing I have learned from this rather pointless exercise is that if I am thirsty, I shouldn’t put the kettle on because it’s costing a fortune.
Don’t use the washing machine, take the washing to the nearest riverbank, because it’s costing a fortune.
Don’t use the tumble drier in the winter, when the clothes won’t dry outside, because it’s costing a fortune.
While wearing a T-shirt, a shirt, a thin jumper and a thick cardigan in the winter, and having the central heating set at only 18C, turn the heating off and shiver.
Don’t try to keep just one room warm by using just a gas fire, because the big bills still keep coming and rising.
I don’t need a smart meter to tell me that.
At greater risk than Yorkshire
When any industry moves into a rural area, there will be changes to air quality which can have consequences for the health of nearby residents, and shale gas is no exception. All stages of constructing and operating a site can release air borne contaminants, including volatile organic compounds, particulate matter and nitrogen oxides, as well as methane.
Although the US shale gas industry is relatively new, a growing body of studies is already finding a range of adverse effects on health, especially for vulnerable residents. For example, a quick search of the Zotero database shows a recent study of infant health in Pennsylvania. This found evidence of the negative health effects of in utero exposure for mothers living up to 3 km away from a fracking site.
The Scottish government commissioned a comprehensive series of reports which assessed the public health risks associated with fracking and concluded that fracking must be banned.
In contrast to this, the UK government is pressing ahead, and has not even defined a minimum setback distance between homes and pads.
So where does that leave Lancashire and Yorkshire?
North Yorkshire has produced a draft minerals plan that includes policies on high volume hydraulic fracturing and this is currently being examined at a public hearing. Residents and councils have called for a 500m buffer zone as a minimum, and the Government-appointed planning inspector has supported this idea.
It was noticeable that the MP for Thirsk and Malton called for minimum separation distances of 1.5km for any settlement of three or more homes. This is in sharp contrast to the situation at Preston New Road where residents are only 350m away from the pad. Is there such a thing as a safe setback distance? And if so, is it 500m, 1.5km, 3km or more?
The Yorkshire plan will be the model for all other county councils and what is evident is that Lancashire residents will be put at greater risk than those in Yorkshire. Clearly this is not acceptable.
Action was justified
The use of military force against the odious Syrian leader, who is supported by two other undemocratic countries, Russia and Iran, was fully justified. It was proportionate, precise and just.
All weapons are nasty but regrettably they sometimes have to be used – this is something Jeremy Corbyn does not understand, hence his response to their use this time.
Pacifists take the high moral ground but end up being trampled underfoot by those who are determined to carry on with their evil ways.
The strike on Syria was essential if we are to deter the use of chemical weapons which are outlawed.
If Assad believes, along with his allies, that he can use these with impunity, he will.
Moral scruples do not apply in Damascus or Tehran or Moscow. Thank goodness this country has a government headed by a leader with a backbone and a determination to put down evil.
Churchill said jaw, jaw was better than war, war.
But he also said that: “Tyrants have to be aware that their evil deeds will be punished without remorse”.
We should be very careful not to exaggerate the consequences of this action.
To say we are in a new Cold War is nonsense.
Such rhetoric betrays an ignorance of history. Neither Trump not Putin want war.
Colonel (retired) Barry Clayton