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Letters: High costs of nuclear deal with China

These letters appear in the Monday 21st October edition of the Independent

Nuclear power is neither cheap, nor sustainable, nor a quick fix for energy shortages. We still haven't found a satisfactory way of dealing with its waste products, and it will take a decade and billions of pounds (billions which will be diverted from investment in greener, more sustainable sources of energy such as solar, marine and wind power) before it provides us with energy.

And now it seems that we can't even build new nuclear power stations without Chinese investment (doubtless involving manufacture in China), so that much of the profit and many of the jobs that come with any infrastructure project will vanish abroad. Are we mad?

Marilyn Mason

Kingston upon Thames

Last week we heard the Chancellor announce at least two bold new initiatives to embrace investment from China. The first was to participate in an £800m investment in Manchester Airport, the second to begin taking control of the remnants of the British nuclear power industry.

Where were the British banks in all this?

In recent years a river of money has been poured into the British banking sector, to prop them up in their failures and to encourage investment in the UK economy. This is hundreds of thousands of millions of pounds, easily ample to salvage the British nuclear power industry (we were the first country in the world to build a civil nuclear reactor, if anyone remembers that), invest in property development, the aviation industry and much more. Yet there doesn't appear to be anything available for industry or the economy.

What happened to all that money, underwritten by tax-payers, here to stimulate economic recovery?

Michael Bond

Stockport, Cheshire

Who needs weapons, who needs war when dominion can be achieved by economic clout and a seat on the board?

When Britain no longer owns its energy supply, and its sovereignty over its communications infrastructure has dissipated, we may regret the Chancellor's handshake.

Sue Young

Hatch Beauchamp, Somerset

Oh despair. Michael Gove promotes me to the Marxist enemies-of-progress club for striking, and I find myself rubbing shoulders with George Osborne, praising the virtues of Communist China.

Ian McKenzie


Badger cull masks error over TB

It's not an “English thing about badgers” (letter, 19 October). It's about the continuing attempt to shift attention from human error.

I refer to the post-2001 restocking of areas ravaged by foot-and-mouth disease, with cattle that hadn't been tested for bovine TB, a schoolboy howler that brought to an end half a century of disease containment.

Talk of badgers attacking hedgehogs and having “no natural enemies” also distracts from the fact that the disease was originally eradicated from this country, with the exception of certain “hot spots” in the South-west, using cattle controls alone, in the 1960s. The idea that killing badgers might be a remedy didn't arise until a TB-infected badger was found in Gloucestershire in 1971.

For those who lobbied for the recent “cull”, its harvest of dead badgers was surely an unmissable opportunity to demonstrate once and for all to the public (who have reportedly paid nearly £1bn for the attempted re-containment of bovine TB) that these badgers really are riddled with TB and that their slaughter, although unpleasant, is absolutely necessary. That this opportunity wasn't taken sends an equally clear message.

Jeremy Wade

Frome, Somerset

We might have more confidence in the Government's culls of badgers if there was any proof that they have been conducted scientifically; that, for instance, the badgers killed have been tested for TB. The impression is that Owen Paterson is clueless and is putting on a grisly show for farmers.

Robert Craig

Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset

You can't trust those in power

Two apparently unconnected stories have highlighted the importance of accountability and of scepticism of the activities of those in power (Steve Richards, Peter Popham, 18 October).

The integrity of those who are able to impugn our honesty or lock us up, should be beyond question. Unfortunately, the kind of people who are drawn to this role are not always morally the best qualified to exercise it.

It is a personal tragedy for Andrew Mitchell that it seems he was victimised in the “Plebgate” affair by employees of the state who failed to keep to the exacting standards required.

Meanwhile in Italy, a similar fate befell Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, who were falsely incarcerated for four years for the murder of Meredith Kercher, and continue to be harried.

The online comments posted below Peter Pophams's article are instructive. They reveal that many people continue to blindly trust corrupt officials and are prepared to defend them to the end.

That is why we need a free press and campaigning organisations; not only to uncover corruption but to save us from ourselves.

Nigel Scott

Advisory Board Member, Injustice Anywhere, London N22

American extremism

David Usborne in his report from America (“Obama tells Congress: there are no winners here”, 18 October), speaks about fears that “extremists in both parties will dig in”.

He should have given more details, as I was totally unaware that there was a Khmer Rouge faction among Democrats intent on setting the US back to year zero as an ultra-zealous Maoist state. Certainly any Democrats would have to be at least as fanatical as that to balance the extremism of the Tea Party, with its psychotic fantasies of a country swept clean of government, science and any vestigial concern for the environment.

Steve Edwards

Wivelsfield Green, East Sussex

Clegg sees the light at last

Congratulations to Nick Clegg for finally reaching a blindingly obvious conclusion, namely that if qualified teachers have to train for up to three years to be able to teach in state schools, unqualified teachers in free schools are not likely to reach the same standard.

That all state schools have to follow the same national curriculum but that it is not necessary for academy or free schools, is again obviously ridiculous. How can a national curriculum designed so that the achievement of pupils in different schools can be compared be optional?

So well done Nick, at last!

Brian Dalton


Scene of the brief encounter

Can it possibly be that Howard Jacobson (Voices, 19 October) does not know where the “Milford Station” scenes in Brief Encounter were shot?

He should visit Carnforth Station as soon as possible, warm himself by the fire in an old-fashioned waiting room, consume some excellent cakes and scones, and browse the display of Brief Encounter memorabilia in the adjacent room.

John Davies


Class warfare

So the Government is suggesting the reintroduction of third-class rail fares. Presumably these will be for passengers who already cannot find a seat on our many overcrowded trains.

Paul Burall