IoS letters, emails & online postings (1 April 2012)

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In reporting possible plans for south-east airport expansion, you did not question whether south-east airport expansion is even necessary ("Heathrow: Tories' secret plot to build third runway", 25 March). Research by WWF and the Aviation Environment Federation (AEF) shows that it is not. Under the CO2 constraint used by the Government's independent advisers, the Committee on Climate Change – a reduction in aviation CO2 levels to 2005 levels by 2050 – there is sufficient available airport capacity in the South-east, now and in the future, to allow for new routes to emerging markets without having to build a single additional runway.

London has six airports and seven runways and far more connectivity to key business destinations than its continental competitors. Heathrow can accommodate more passengers with larger planes and higher loading, on more business routes, by reducing the number of domestic and short-haul flights which can easily be replaced by train, while also shifting holiday traffic elsewhere. And other London airports, such as Gatwick and Stansted, have spare capacity to fill. Let's achieve growth, within environmental limits, through better, more efficient use of the capacity we have, rather than through unconstrained aviation growth at any cost. While the government has changed since the Climate Change Act was passed in 2008 – with Conservative support – the need to address climate change has not. Decisions made or delayed today affect all future generations. We should be careful what we choose.

David Nussbaum

Chief executive, WWF-UK

Godalming, Surrey

Following the revelations about wealthy donors being given access to the PM and tabling issues for policy, I wonder if the National Planning Policy Framework is a direct result of this process. Here is a prime example of a measure that is deeply unpopular with everyone except developers being railroaded through Parliament despite opposition from all quarters, including many Tory MPs. Developers donate huge sums to the Conservative Party so it would be interesting to know if they are represented in the Leader's Group [of £50,000-a-year donors] as well.

Nick Walker

Whalley, Lancashire

The point that the "granny tax" is aimed to hit rich pensioners is misdirected (Letters, 25 March). If a pensioner's total income is over £28,930, they do not get the enhanced tax allowance. So the granny tax hits only pensioners whose income is less than this.

David Rushton

Shoreham, Kent

The SOS SaveOurSeafarers campaign welcomes the extension of the EU counter-piracy operation until the end of 2014, and the EU decision to broaden the scope of its naval operation in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean by extending the naval forces' area of operations to include Somali coastal territory. This allows it to take more robust action on the Somali coast and is a bold step towards the goal that the shipping industry and its seafarers embrace – the elimination of piracy in this region. Such robust action is necessary if the UK and US governments press on with their avowed ambition of stopping ransom payments to pirates and other groups.

SOS was delighted to see Mrs [Judith] Tebbutt released by her armed kidnappers after a ransom was paid. But there are currently 220 seafarers being held by Somali pirates on 13 vessels, and 40 held on land, some of whom have been held for two years. What does the future hold for them if the ability to pay any ransoms is stopped? Hindering ransoms also means shipowners can no longer guarantee the safety of their seafarers.

John Walding


It is not true, as Janet Street-Porter says, that "the vast majority of people... can't even afford to buy a tiny shoebox to call home" ("'Freedom of choice' means nothing...", 25 March): 67 per cent of housing stock is owner-occupied.

Michael Dempsey

London E1

Paul Vallely notes that minimum pricing for alcohol will do nothing to address the significant issue of middle-class drinking ("A tax on bargain booze is a cheap trick", 25 March). Indeed, but it might address the issue of supermarkets selling booze more cheaply than it can be bought in pubs, thereby encouraging people to drink at home rather than socially. And isn't that part of the middle-class drink issue?

Keith Flett

London N17

I wonder how many readers muttered their own reply to the headline "Thatcher: I wish I'd never gone into politics" (25 March). Apparently her misgivings sprang from the toll her career took upon her family. No chance, I suppose, of her feeling as strongly about the damage her policies did to generations of other British families.

Irene Collins


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