Letters: Fracking - to prosecute Lucas is wrong

These letters are published in the print edition of The Independent, 27th September, 2013

It is disturbing that the Crown Prosecution Service finds it in the public interest to prosecute Green MP Dr Caroline Lucas for the way she opposed the threat of fracking in a community near her Brighton constituency (report, 26 September) but to date has  not prosecuted a single  banker for their role in wrecking our economy.

City financial watchdogs have fined companies involved in dodgy dealing in the banking industry, but unlike in the United States reckless individuals are never fingered by our prosecuting authorities.These bankers and brokers get the huge bonuses paid personally, even if earned from reckless deals, but never receive the fines personally when caught out.

Meanwhile Dr Lucas gets prosecuted. She has tried traditional methods to raise widespread concerns with fracking; for example, she secured a debate in Parliament just before summer recess on 18 July. Readers can judge for themselves by reading the energy minister Michael Fallon’s response to the concerns Dr Lucas set out whether he is prepared to take on board popular worries over fracking by reading his response on the Parliamentary website: www.publications.parliament.uk /pa/cm201314/cmhansrd /cm130718/ hallindx/130718-x.htm

One of several key points raised by Dr Lucas was this: “It is also pretty appalling that the new planning guidelines are set to come into force without public consultation, denying communities that stand to be affected by fracking any say in the new process. It is clear that ministers and the fracking firms, which are, sadly, increasingly indistinguishable, are keen to press on rapidly, but it is wrong to refuse to consult on new planning guidance aimed at making it easier for developers to cast aside community concerns.”

It is impossible for politicians to represent popular concerns over environmental risks if ministers either ignore them when raised through usual democratic channels, or deliberately create planning processes that are exclusive of key community stakeholders.

Dr Lucas is a dedicated, concerned, selfless and hardworking MP. Do our law officers really want to prosecute such politicians?

Dr David Lowry, Stoneleigh, Surrey


Thank you for devoting two pages to the dangers of the chemicals used in fracking (“Is fracking a mortal threat to our livestock?”, 18 September). It is truly astonishing that David Cameron, who wanted the Coalition to be “the greenest government ever”, is so keen to promote fracking. 

To allow such toxic and carcinogenic chemicals to be pumped into the ground strikes me as equivalent to toxic waste dumping on a grand scale. Accidental spillages and leakages from imperfect well linings will be inevitable, not to mention complex geological factors that may in time bring these chemicals to the surface and into our food chain.

That we would be spared  the shocking US legislation that allows fracking companies to hide details of the chemicals they use is of little comfort. It is time for a major U-turn in policy.

Justin Douglas, St Albans,  Hertfordshire


Ed Miliband’s advocacy of theft is a disgrace

Does Ed Miliband understand property rights in regards to his “use it or lose it” threat to property developers sitting on vast land banks? The rule of law is supposed to protect our property rights from the potential arbitrary power of government, but Miliband thinks he can stamp on this fundamental principle of civil association and limited government for the sake of trying to win votes. Miliband was advocating theft and property confiscation; it is an absolute disgrace to hear such rhetoric from a “serious” politician. 

James Paton, Billericay, Essex


No doubt “An honest day’s work for an honest day’s wage” (Owen Jones, 24 September”) will make a fine slogan for Ed Miliband at the next general election. On the other hand, it is uncomfortably close to “A fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage”, as used by Stanley Baldwin in the 1930s, which my working-class grandmother always cited as her reason for voting Conservative.

D J Taylor, Norwich


Ed Miliband gave a really first-class speech at the Labour conference. The average voter will applaud his commitment to freezing energy prices. Most of us will certainly also be in favour of breaking up the big energy firms and bringing in a new, tougher regulator.

Building 200,000 new homes a year by 2020 will in addition go down well with younger and older folk wanting a place of their own.Truly, here we have an excellent, thoughtful young leader who would certainly make an excellent prime minister in 2015.

Andrew McLuskey, Staines, Twickenham


Once again Labour shows that it has no basic understanding of business; that’s partly why it  ruined our economy while in government last time. Ed Miliband is not capable of running our country, and conference headlines might please the fickle but won’t win them an election.

T Sayer, Bristol


The blatant attempt at blackmail by the energy companies with their thinly veiled threat to pull the plugs on our energy supply if the government attempts to regulate their obscene profits, despite the fact that many elderly, sick and disabled people depend for their safety on that energy, shows beyond doubt that these fat-cat companies are totally unfit to be allowed to continue managing our energy infrastructure.

The government should make it absolutely clear that any such attempt at such sabotage would result in seizure of all assets, jailing of the perpetrators, and immediate renationalisation without compensation of the energy network. But of course we won’t see that from this government, who wouldn’t dream of offending their rich shareholder friends.

Ian McNicholas, Waunlwyd, Ebbw Vale


We can’t afford not to build HS2

Ed Balls has raised questions about the affordability of HS2 and alternative uses for the available funds. Surely the question he should be asking is not “Can we afford to build it?” but “Can we afford not to build it if we want a globally competitive future for our country in the 21st century?”

Our 19th-century Victorian forbears left a legacy that  enabled us to meet most of our infrastructure needs for the 20th century, and we became lazy and parsimonious in our thinking on national infrastructure investment. 

Sadly, they omitted to provide for sufficient north-south rail capacity for the 21st century and for national success this will be most keenly felt in respect of freight capacity. Whether we like it or not, we are in a globalised economy competing with emerging economic power-houses falling over themselves to invest in their national infrastructure. It would be interesting to know what questions of affordability and alternative uses for the funding Mr Balls raised when his government was planning and initiating the construction of Crossrail.

The HS2 project will cost each year a broadly similar sum to that which has been spent each year for the past decade and more on Crossrail. Surely it can’t have anything to do with the fact that Crossrail benefits the economy of London, whereas HS2 benefits the economy of much of the rest of the country?

Malcolm Everett, Birmingham


State-school sport  is thriving

Has David Hewitt (Letters, 23 September) been anywhere near a state school recently? My children’s school has a state-of-the-art gym and sports hall. PE is valued and taught with excellence and enthusiasm. There is no sign of “apathy”. Pupils have experience of a wide variety of sports (all those mentioned in his list, apart from squash and many more besides) before, during and after school. They compete against other schools and are certainly not restricted to being “grudgingly allowed to play sport one afternoon a week”.

State-school sport is actually alive and kicking and achieving incredibly high standards.

Helen Smithson, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire


Primary principles

English primary schools do not need an American for-profit company to tell them that “you can have fun from learning” and that core values of “compassion, wisdom, respect, justice, courage, hope, responsibility, and integrity” are essential ingredients of good education (report, 25 September). The person who needs this advice is Michael Gove, who seems to think that transmission of skills and facts and the testing thereof is the essence of education.

State funds should go into state schools, not private pockets.

Michael Bassey, Coddington, Newark


Niqab makes a  spectacle of piety

The defenders of the niqab are laying claim to the British virtue of tolerance  (Letters, 24 September), but completely ignoring another long-standing aspect of our national character, a very strong dislike of those who make a  spectacle of their own piety and virtue mostly in order to highlight the supposed sin and vice of  everybody else. This idea is  enshrined in our language in  expressions like “self-righteous” and “holier than thou”.

R S Foster, Sheffield


For once, I’m backing Boris

I’m not a fan of Boris Johnson, but I praise his call for the super-rich to follow the example of their American counterparts to “do something for society” – to demonstrate some philanthropy. You reported his perfectly reasonable comments as a “rant”.

Funny, up until then I thought I’d been reading The Independent.

Stanley Knill, London N15


Ukip jests, surely

Farage showed the refreshing  candour and no-nonsense forthrightness for which he and his party are renowned when he said of ex-Ukip MEP Godfrey Bloom: “Nearly everything he has said has been meant as a joke.”

I trust Bloom will return the compliment and say the same of Farage and Ukip.

Christian Vassie, York


Ancient cricketer

I noticed, in yesterday’s Birthdays, that former cricketer Ian Chappell is 701. I presume this is 701 not out?

Nick Marler, Otley, West Yorkshire