IoS letters, emails & online postings (10 February 2013)

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Had the HS2 plan been linked to a Heathrow replacement hub airport at Birmingham and/or direct connection to HS1 at St Pancras, there would at least be a whiff of joined-up environmental thinking ("HS2: The hidden cost to Britain's wildlife", 23 February).

If the real problem is insufficient rail capacity, reopening the old Great Western Railway route from the North and/or adding extra tracks and lengthened platforms to the East and West Coast main lines would solve the problem at vastly less cost to the environment, and leave enough change from £33bn to electrify the entire rail network.

You say that HS2's route through Buckinghamshire will threaten Bechstein's bat; but Bernwood Forest is also one of the richest sites for moth and butterfly diversity in the UK. If a growing population continues to crave economic growth, all chance of saving wildlife, meeting carbon targets or reducing pollution is jettisoned.

David Smith

Clyro, Powys

Any transport infrastructure project will have an impact on wildlife. Are we going to cease all such projects because of this? It would be better to close down the M40 and turn the land back to pasture and woodland, and let people go by train instead.

Ian K Watson


This great railway line threatens countless unique habitats, digs up ancient woodlands and drives a wedge through lush green estate and imposes London time on the West Country. Whoops, wrong century... Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Britain must have faced the same concerns as HS2, which in time will demonstrate the even greater benefits.

John Vincent

Staines, Middlesex, and Cologne, Germany

Why should the Government define what marriage is ("Young Tories warn of rift over gay marriage", 3 February)? Marriage is within the private sphere and its meaning differs from person to person. Those who are religious see it to be a blessing from God; others marry as it is the "done thing"; some marry for financial security. It should be down to the individuals to define what type of arrangement they are to enter into. The role of the Government in the process is to uphold the contract individuals make. This position would have avoided the furore over same-sex marriage, as it would have taken the politics out of the equation.

James Paton

Billericay, Essex

Another protracted and costly inquiry, this time into the Mid-Staffordshire health trust. Meanwhile, responsibility for the failings of care is diffused among countless anonymous individuals. Nothing would do more to stimulate a change in culture than dismissals at all levels of management, and without generous pay-offs at taxpayers' expense.

Peter O'Neill

Cocking, West Sussex

The feature on Manx Gaelic was amusing but the 33 Manx Gaelic speakers referred to are people living in England and Wales for the 2011 census (i on Sunday, 3 February). The Isle of Man, a self-governing jurisdiction which is not part of the United Kingdom, held its own census in 2011. This showed there were 1,662 speakers of Manx Gaelic in the Isle of Man – significantly up from 165 in 1961, the lowest figure recorded. There have been radio programmes in the language for well over 30 years.

Brian Stowell

Douglas, Isle of Man

If your young have young of their own, does that render you out of touch ("The rise and rise of Mother's Ruin", 3 February)? The assertion gin is "no longer just a drink for grannies" implies that grandmothers, who may be novelists, diplomats or bosses of blue-chip companies, occupy a twilight zone of decrepitude. Ageism and sexism! Bottoms up!

Stephen Green


The boundaries of the Lake District National Park may be revised, but I would be amazed if they extended the Lake District as far as Hebden Bridge (The New Review, 3 February). The last time I looked at a map, it was firmly in West Yorkshire.

Anne Leaney

Appleby, Cumbria

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