LETTER: System that makes it cheaper to pollute than to conserve

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The Independent Online
From Mr Martin Harper

Sir: Your leading article "Why oil firms should save our coasts" (23 February), expounding the virtues of the polluter-pays principle, is correct to point out that this is applicable in the Milford Haven disaster. You fail, however, to highlight the classic flaw of our market-based economy on which the principle is founded - it does not incorporate environmental values.

While oil companies may be asked to fork out millions of pounds for the clean-up operation, who will compensate those who have, hopefully temporarily but potentially terminally, lost the enjoyment of the beauty and wildlife of the region? Without a proper mechanism for financially quantifying quality of human life, the polluter will always escape full punishment.

Yours faithfully,

Martin Harper

London, SE24