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Letters: Energy profits

Challenge to the energy barons

The stranglehold by private companies on the UK's energy supply can be diminished ("Prices went up by 15% – now British Gas profits soar as well", 27 July). Community-owned energy projects are springing up around the country, giving power back to the people.

It's a symbol of a growing commitment to a simple idea: locals collectively cough up the capital to fund energy projects which are co-operatively managed to ensure fair energy prices. As an added bonus, profits are reinvested into the project, often funding green energy technologies.

The Government must restore premium community tariffs to encourage more community energy projects, something which organisations including Co-operatives UK and the Co-operative Group have been campaigning for since it was cut. The UK's profit-hungry energy barons aren't too big to be challenged. There is a fairer, greener way that puts people and communities first.

Peter Holbrook
Chief Executive
Social Enterprise UK, London SE1

British Gas has made a 23 per cent increase in profit for the past six months. Coincidently, this is almost exactly the same percentage by which it increased its prices in August 2011.

Perhaps I am cynical but I am wondering by how much my tariff will increase this August in order to line their pockets next year. Is it not about time we had a limit on the amount by which energy companies are allowed to increase their prices in any year?

This would be in line with European countries' legislation and would at least slow down this disgusting profiteering.

Susan Walpole
Dorchester, Dorset

The Independent continues its crusade against Centrica with more allegations of unjustified profits. But how on earth have you managed to turn the small beer of £3.64 profit per average customer per month into an outrage on a par with bankers' bonuses? Reducing a £1,200pa energy bill by £43.68 would hardly make any difference to the financial pain so your solution must be that Centrica deliberately makes a very large loss in order to make our energy bills easier to pay. That, to put it mildly, is the economics of the madhouse. Without profits companies very quickly wither and die. Centrica is neither and needs profits to survive. With pre-tax margins of 7.2 per cent and post-tax profit of only 5 per cent on its energy business, Centrica really isn't in a position to give much away and remain viable.

Roger Chapman
Keighley, West Yorkshire

Olympic opening was apt tribute to the British people

I watched the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics with a mixture of amazement and joy. That we are able to engineer and construct such magnificent achievements pays tribute to the enormous ability of the ordinary British people to cooperate with one another in humble, enthusiastic and positive ways. Unlike their wealthier brothers, they are always to be seen making personal sacrifices of one sort or another. I asked myself what they have done to deserve leaders who have feathered their own nests with false expense claims, favoured their rich cohorts instead of supporting their poorer subjects, lied in the perpetration of war and done little to advance the cause of wealth redistribution.

C M D Joslin
Dorchester, Dorset

I wish to shake the hand of Danny Boyle. He could have focused on our aristocratic or militaristic history, instead he focused on the workers, their agricultural, industrial and artistic contributions to this country. There in lights was one of our greatest achievements – the NHS.

This morning my partner is busy composing a presentation that he has to make in the hope of retaining the job he has done for the past 29 years. A banker? No. A community psychiatric nurse.

Janet James
Ripley, Derbyshire

The best moment at the opening ceremony was the entrance of the teams. All these young athletes from around the world, of all colours, smiling and in harmony. It was a demonstration of the fact that people are the same, and that our economic and political problems stem from the greed, corruption and selfishness of political leaders. The failure of governments to manage the affairs of their countries and rampant capitalism has seen wealth disappear into the hands of the 1 per cent who hide as much as they can in tax havens to the detriment of the 99 per cent. I hope that the message was received by the world's elite sitting in their free VIP seats.

Peter Fieldman
Venelles, France

We are a theme park. No question of it. Mary Poppins. Wurzels with spotted handkerchiefs. I am distraught. Where is our dignity? Where can I go? Outer space? I slit my wrists. Steven Spielberg for prime minister. Help me.

Patrick Cosgrove
Chapel Lawn, Shropshire

It was generous of David Lister (27 July) to assume that the BBC had put the Prom on early so that spectators could get home to watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics. I suspect the real reason was so that Daniel Barenboim could get to Stratford in time for his flag-carrying performance.

Ian Baird
Framlingham, Suffolk

For me the opening ceremony was tainted by the use of farm animals for sensation. These are sentient creatures, not objects to be abused in a stadium. We don't seem to have come very far since Roman times – and as technology speeds along, morals have been left behind.

Judi Hewitt
Rhyl, Denbighshire

What rubbish. It would have been cheaper to show old episodes of Top of the Pops and Mr Bean and Benny Hill and we could have asked Al Fayed to donate the Great Ormond Street advert.

David Thompson
London SW7

Well done to Danny Boyle for reminding the nation of the importance of engineers and manufacturing to the prosperity of the UK. I hope Mr. Cameron and his mates in the City were taking note.

John Coleshill
Crewkerne, Somerset

Danny Boyle turned his back on the self-important worlds of politics and banking and in an amazing kaleidoscopic collage he demonstrated how creative intelligence, technical brilliance, enterprise and courage, coupled with superb cooperation between skilled professionals and huge numbers of infectiously enthusiastic volunteers, are the qualities that truly make Britain both different and great.

All my life political bores, philistines, and bean-counters have demanded that we "make the case for the arts". In the Olympic opening ceremony, Danny Boyle has done that superbly and, it should be, for all time. The real Olympic legacy must be a new and lasting respect for all that is amazing about British creativity, and a commitment to whole-hearted support for those whose talents can deliver it.

David Penn
Kendal, Cumbria

It cost £27m, with a UK audience of 27 million. I call that money well spent, especially if it saves our NHS.

Steven Calrow

The Olympic Ceremony was better than I expected, but I'm not sure it justified a choir from Northern Ireland singing "Oh Danny Boyle".

Mike Shearing
Sabah, East Malaysia

Survey on GM crops betrays bias

In your GM survey, the question "Do you think the government should encourage experiments on GM crops so that farmers can reduce the pesticides they use" is misleading (report, 25 July).

It is predicated on the false claim that farmers use less pesticide when they plant GM crops. GM Roundup Ready crops have caused massive increases in glyphosate use worldwide. This is well-documented.

In the US, herbicide-tolerant cotton, soy and maize have encouraged growers to spray an estimated 174 million more kilos of herbicides than they otherwise would. In 2007-08 alone, herbicide use on GM crops there rose by 31.4 per cent. Worse, liberal use of pesticides on GM crops has led to the emergence of devastating Roundup Ready super-weeds.

GM crops won't liberate the world from pesticides. I can only assume that the GM lobby fed the questions to pollsters who dutifully swallowed them. The rest of us should be less gullible.

Joanna Blythman

It is not surprising to find strong support for testing of genetically modified crops in an opinion poll given that the question links GM corps to a desirable outcome, the reduction of pesticides. If you had asked whether respondents supported testing of GM crops in order that farmers could spend their lives in hock to big agribusiness you might have had a different response.

Peter Milne

A Beatles song for every mood

Tudor Allen couldn't be more wrong about the Beatles only being good for easy listening (Letters, 20 July). Tudor should really listen to some of the greatest songs ever written which tackle universal human conditions such as old age and loneliness, ("Eleanor Rigby"), teenage love and parental conflict ("She's Leaving Home"), or reflection and loss ("In My Life"), among many others. John Lennon and Paul McCartney deserve their place among the great composers.

Jill Davis
Harrow Weald, Middlesex

Wind power is here to stay

Considering myths and realities, here are some for Terence Blacker (23 July): all power stations are ugly, but we live in an industrialised society and will not be returning to a Lark Rise Over Candleford existence any time soon, at least I hope not; the only income stream for a wind-farm operator is sale of power, the subsidy is geared to the amount of power generated and wind farms are profitable; and if our energy policy and response to global warming is dictated by the value of people's houses, the future is bleak indeed.

David Wallis

Speed limits

I support the proposal for a downward revision of speed limits, but 40mph on rural roads is a little draconian. Speed limits for cars should be 50mph for single carriageways, 60mph for dual carriageways and 70mph for motorways.

The speed limit would broadly reflect the quality of the road and – with the exception of motorways – bring car speed limits into line with HGVs, thereby reducing the need for overtaking. This should not only improve safety, but reduce fuel usage and save the cost of the 50mph signs that increasingly are finding their way on to our rural roads.

Cliff Woodcraft


Asda's history

One of the curious things about Asda not paying dairy farmers enough for the milk they produce (report, 25 July) is that this company was started by a group of farmers in Yorkshire and its name comes from Associated Dairies. You would think it would therefore look after the farmers.

Robert Crowther
King's Lynn, Norfolk