Readers' letters - April 19
Myth that Brexit will restore a golden era
I was born in the 1960s. My earliest political memories are of strife between intransigent trades union bosses and incompetent governments in the 1970s.
In the 1980s, I was able to vote, but during the 18 years of Conservative government opposed to my values, that vote did nothing to determine national policy.
In the following 13 years of New Labour, which often lacked compassion toward the many while toadying up to the wealthy few, I was never represented by a government that I had voted for.
From 2010, I saw a coalition pursuing even more extreme versions of the hateful Tory policies of the 1980s.
These continue to this day, public services strangled by ideology and what spending there is biased towards South East England.
UK parliamentary democracy has served me and my town poorly, delivering government opposed to our interests for nearly half a century.
It was only by the EU, under the Social Chapter and measures such as the Working Time Directive, that I saw my views represented.
We only vote for one candidate in one constituency, who may neither be elected MP nor serve in government.
Legislation is drafted by dedicated, professional but unelected bureaucrats, whichever parliament passes it.
Acts of the UK Parliament frequently leave the details to be decided later at the whims of individual ministers.
So despite what other writers may believe, it is a myth and a distortion that leaving the EU somehow restores a golden era of representative democracy.
Laws made in Westminster or Brussels are equally alien and unaccountable, but more often the latter seem to have a familiar British ring.
J Robin Hughes
Rules must be same for all
The North Yorkshire Planning Inspector’s decision on a minimum separation distance from fracking has quite properly led to calls from Lancashire residents for the same treatment around Cuadrilla’s shale gas sites.
There is evidence from the USA, as with other toxic volatile chemicals, that breathing in the diesel exhaust micro-particle emissions from the numerous on-site diesel compressors and heavy diesel truck traffic are both probable significant contributory factors to the harmful impacts on health from fracking. Studies have also indicated that proximity to this industry is a crucial factor determining harm.
In general, for every 10 micrograms per cubic metre increase in micro-particulate PM2.5s, the odds of ending up with an acute lower respiratory infection at some point in the following four weeks rose by 15 to 32 per cent, depending on the individual’s age.
Work published in April 2017 found that a 300m setback originally proposed in Maryland would not protect residents from unacceptable noise levels.
There is also concerning research on harmful levels of respirable silica dust from fracking sand and other pollutants close to sites. Maryland, like New York State, has now sensibly banned fracking.
Based on historical evacuations and thermal modelling, people within low setback distances are potentially vulnerable to thermal injury during a well blowout.
According to air measurements and vapor dispersion modelling, the same populations are susceptible to benzene and hydrogen sulphide exposure above health-based risk levels.
I entirely agree with the North Yorkshire Planning Inspector that I would rather live more than 500m from a fracking site, than at 350m, which is currently the case for some terrified residents at Little Plumpton, adjacent to Cuadrilla’s site on Preston New Road. Distance is not an absolute measure of protection. Unfortunately, there is no defined setback distance that assures safety. However, there cannot be less stringent public health and safety regulations for our Lancashire residents than those stipulated for North Yorkshire.
Dr Frank Rugman
West and Corbyn
In his justification of the Syrian attack, retired colonel Barry Clayton loses no opportunity in linking Jeremy Corbyn’s perceived pacifism, a word he somehow makes appear obscene, to Jeremy’s comments about the raid (LP Letters, April 17).
He could alternatively have cited Lord West, retired admiral, who is above him in both rank and experience of warfare. His comments differed little from Corbyn’s analysis of the situation, although his opinions soon vanished from our TV screens.
The colonel’s claim to know the minds of Trump and Putin will be met with amazement by most people, not least a tweeting President, who changes his mind daily. Well, good luck with those pacific intentions he attributes them with.
A menace underfoot
Everywhere I go, there are broken or loose paving stones.
A broken pavement
is worse than nothing at
You stand more chance of breaking a bone than walking on a non-surface in the mud.