Readers' letters - April 19

Risks of self-regulation

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 19th April 2016, 4:04 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th April 2016, 5:19 pm
Residents of Little Plumpton and the surrounding areas protest against proposed fracking nearby. See letter
Residents of Little Plumpton and the surrounding areas protest against proposed fracking nearby. See letter

We would like to comment on the full page article, No cause for concern, written by Dr James Verdon of the University of Bristol (LEP April 12).

Dr Verdon writes of the earth tremors experienced in the vicinity of Preese Hall after fracking for gas took place there in 2011.

We don’t take issue with the statement that, “typically , humans are only able to notice events larger than about magnitude 2” ( the largest tremor at Preese Hall measured 2.3), but with Dr Verdon’s views on self regulation in industry.

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He states: “I note that the DECC has previously said that it will have a representative on site during hydraulic fracturing.” Really? The Department of Energy and Climate Change is going to provide staff to be at every fracking site throughout Lancashire whenever a well is fracked?

He then goes on to state that “self-regulation is the norm for almost every type of industry in the UK. Industries which we trust and use on a day to day basis… The airline industry springs to mind. We don’t expect the Government to oversee every aspect of airplane construction, maintenance and operation.”

Well, we think that to compare The Civil Aviation Authority with whatever self-regulatory body the fracking industry puts in place is simply not applicable.

Aircraft construction, maintenance and operation are regulated to the highest audited manufacturing standards of quality control right down to the material of the last rivet.

Every aircraft has to have rigorous maintenance checks that are recorded and independently audited and the operation is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority that can ground any plane if it has a concern.

History is filled with examples of what happens when industry (or our banking system for that matter), trusted or otherwise, is left to self-regulate.

According to the Government’s chief scientific advisor, Mark Walport, writing in the I newspaper in 2014, fracking has the potential to be as controversial and as damaging as thalidomide, tobacco and asbestos.

He goes on to list innovations in which adverse effects occurred at a later date: “asbestos, benzene, thalidomide, dioxins, lead in petrol, tobacco, many pesticides, mercury, chlorine and endocrine-disrupting compounds, as well as CFCs, high-sulphur fuels and fossil fuels in general.”

Dr Robin Russell-Jones, former medical and scientific adviser to Clear, the Campaign for Lead-Free Air, describes the struggle to have lead, a known neuro toxin, removed from petrol. In 1979, Herb Needleman produced a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine which made the link between lead in petrol and a range of health problems. “The lead industry was incandescent. Needleman’s work was subject to hostile critiques and he was reported for scientific misconduct.”

In 2011 the UN announced that it had been successful in phasing out leaded petrol from almost every country in the world. Dr Russell-Jones goes on to state: “You cannot rely on industry to act in the public interest.” It may be that Dr Verdon is correct about the likely intensity and frequency of fracking induced seismic events. But to state that the fracking industry should self-regulate on this matter or any other because “self-regulation is the norm”, seems to be courting future disaster.

Central Lancashire Friends of the Earth

Other ways to save money

As a tax payer, I feel let down by the Government hell-bent on cut backs and “saving money”.

Regarding the closure of Chorley A&E, if the Government had invested in training nurses and doctors, we wouldn’t be in this pickle. So, if we must save money, then let’s start by kicking all these illegal migrants out of the UK. They are a drain on our tax payers and resources.

Paul Wignall, Hoghton

Putting up with destruction

Terrorists have destroyed some of the world’s most iconic structures. Lancaster has its own team bent on destruction, transforming the city into one large student hall of residence, and we call them planning officers. They also seem to think we should give up on the greenbelt and its wildlife, because we have four dissecting our district. We have four because that was deemed necessary to prevent urban sprawl.

Hasn’t council, and its officers, heard of air pollution and its causes? Or do they simply roll over and submit when faced with ‘financial bullies’? Why do we put up with it? Lancaster was a city of free thinkers, always ready, and able, to stand up to bureaucracy.

No longer, it seems.

Jane Butterworth, address supplied

Do youngsters still play folloll?

A last word on the sand pit (LEP April 5)! My old friend Trevor Segeant phoned to say I had awakened many old memories for him. He also remarked that there was always a plentiful supply of fireplace tiles scattered around. I suppose thanks to the cowboy who dumped them there.

Anyway, Trev’s crew collected them, he said, to play folloll.

I know what he means, we used to get scolded for chalking a “folloll” in our street. It was a grid marked one to six and you slid the tile to each number and hopped to retrieve it. Nowadays you rarely see street games, and I wondered if it’s still played, and has its name changed? I suppose it’s changed its name by now and is played on a computer!

Allan Fazackerley via email

Tax should not be an option

I don’t claim that I like paying taxes, however, as I see the necessity for them to provide the infrastructure and services required for maintaining a reasonable lifestyle, I don’t object to them either.

For those people, often ones who claim to be patriotic and proud of British values, to then take active steps to pay little or no taxes, despite enjoying wealth beyond the reach of ordinary people, often complaining about the state of our health, road and rail systems etc, smacks of rank hypocrisy.

As for the claim they have not broken the law, that is the defence made by most tin pot dictators.

When in power, they make whatever law suits their purpose.

Denis Lee, Ashton