Letters: Lost opportunities for renewable energy

These letters were published in the Thursday 28th November edition of the Independent


In his paean to German coal-burning, Nigel Farage (18 November) appears to accept that the coal which powered much of Britain’s industrial revolution did so at enormous human cost. He asserts that “the emerging shale gas industry is safer, cleaner and much less visually intrusive”.

“Safer” and “cleaner” than coal is not the same as “safe” and “clean”. What he describes as “grown-up technologies” are simply those which use unsustainable resources and are highly polluting (coal and gas) or nuclear, which is incomplete in that as yet there is no solution to the waste issue.

How refreshing it would be to hear Nigel Farage place some enthusiastic faith in British innovation, and Britain’s ability to commercially exploit such innovation, by backing the origination and development of energy technologies which are not hazardous or harmful in production nor in their legacy, rather than emulating, highly selectively, our neighbours. 

It is a great pity that he continues apparently to believe that climate science is wrong and that he is right. It is irresponsible to leave future generations to take the risk.

William Dale

Amersham, Buckinghamshire

Yet another sustainable energy generation project – the Atlantic Array wind farm – has been cancelled. I am shocked and saddened. Low-cost, clean energy for several hundred thousand people and jobs for thousands have been lost.

Any economy and community needs cheap and plentiful energy. Renewables can deliver those benefits and a cut of the price that nuclear and more traditional forms of energy generation can deliver.

It’s not surprising therefore that in the recent election in Germany neither the Conservatives nor any other established parties wanted to reverse the country’s commitment to renewables. Germany has implemented a long-term strategy to generate at least 60 per cent of all energy needs from renewables by 2050, so far exceeding every target. Germany was able to generate enough electricity from renewable energy to meet 37 per cent of Britain’s energy needs in 2012. In Britain our government is  missing every opportunity to encourage the generation of renewable energy supplies and instead sending us down the dead-end of fossil fuel reliance.

Jurgen Huber

Co-Chair, West Central London Green Party, London, SE23

No one can criticise The Independent for devoting half its letter columns to the subject of global warming (20 November) but we have been having this same debate since the previous report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007.

It is pointless arguing with the likes of Lord Lawson and Nigel Farage, because they will never change their view on the subject, no matter what evidence is presented. It really is time to move the debate forward.

Why is Saudi Arabia investing so heavily in non-fossil fuels if oil supplies are secure for the foreseeable future? Why is the world price of gas continuing to rise if shale gas from America is the bonanza that the drilling companies claim? How come Germany managed to supply 30 per cent of its electricity from renewables when the received wisdom is that renewables cannot substitute for nuclear, let alone gas? And finally why does the media mainstream not promulgate the advantages to local communities of microgeneration from renewables sources?

When these issues get discussed properly then the Government’s energy and environmental policies will self-destruct.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones

Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

‘Plebgate’ erodes public trust

Whether you like Andrew Mitchell or not, the closing of establishment ranks and disingenuous denial, so evident in the “Plebgate” row, have eroded trust in all our public institutions.

 Whether it is police, NHS, or other publicly funded organisations, leadership and integrity are woefully absent today, just as institutionalised and shameless self-interest among public officials is as blatant as it is shocking.

Unless the man on the street can trust the powers that rule over him to act justly and in the public interest, he cannot truly enjoy his liberty.

James Anderson


What does it matter whether Andrew Mitchell called the police “plebs” or not? He swore at them, using the F-word, in a way that implied this is what he thought of them – how much more arrogant could a member of HM Government be?

This whole affair has been blown way out of proportion. Either he was right to step down in view of his arrogant and abusive behaviour or he wasn’t. Either way, he only has himself to blame, so let’s have an end to his bleating.

Francis Kirkham

Crediton, Devon

If we really want to know what was said at Plebgate why don’t we ask the Americans? They’re bound to have been listening.

Morris Graham

Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands

Pay for your own footpaths

At a time when councils around the country are having to make real cuts to essential services for the vulnerable young and elderly, I am astonished that, as regular as Christmas, The Ramblers are yet again whingeing that their hobby (which is after all what rambling is) has been affected (“Access denied: ramblers restricted by council cutbacks”, 25 November).

If they love footpaths so much, maybe it’s about time we gifted all existing footpaths to the Ramblers, together with an annual sum for upkeep. If more needed spending, then, like the National Trust, they could raise it from their members, the people who use the footpaths.

Or would the prospect of paying for their hobby be too much for them?

Andrew Whyte


“Barbed wire, missing bridges, overgrowth” block Britain’s so-called rights of way – but how much of that is really new? Every complaint listed in your “blocked footpaths” story was true in 1980 when my wife and I moved to a country where, without vaunted “rights of way”, even the farmers kept tracks open where they were marked on the map. That’s Germany.

It was still all true 12 years ago when we moved from the UK to France, and pretty much the same applies here.

In the UK, “rights of way” always have been blocked with barbed wire, broken bridges and any other obstacle (such as a parked JCB here and there) that a cantankerous farmer can dream up. It never took council spending cuts to ruin a walk. But no doubt it helps.

David Boggis

Matignon, France

Robert Peston and the Daily Mail

By omitting key elements of our press statement, your report (27 November) on Robert Peston’s City University journalism lecture gives a completely misleading account of the circumstances in which in 2008 the Daily Mail ran a three-paragraph diary item on his late wife’s illness.

As our statement made clear, our diary reporter was introduced to Mrs Peston as a Mail diary journalist by a well-known freelance celebrity press photographer – who is also the late Mrs Peston’s cousin – at a book launch in January 2008. The reporter had a friendly conversation with Mrs Peston during which she volunteered information about her forthcoming book and her illness, which he quoted in his story. She also posed for a picture with her husband, which we published alongside the diary item, which itself was positive and upbeat. No complaint was made to the Daily Mail at the time or since.

Peter Wright

Editor Emeritus, Associated Newspapers, London W8

They all hated Thatcher

Sir Bernard Ingham (Monday Interview, 25 November) seems to have forgotten that the North of England, as well as Scotland, Wales and the Midlands, were so ill-served by his erstwhile mistress in government that they can neither forget nor forgive. I was a young teacher in North Yorkshire in the early 1980s, and well remember pupils “striking” in my school because there were no jobs for them to go to, so no point in doing schoolwork.

Robert Carlin

London W10

This spock was  no doctor

Leonard Nimoy is not, as your caption said, “Star Trek’s Dr Spock” (“Great company”, 26 November). Nimoy in fact played Star Trek’s Mr Spock. You’ve confused the Vulcan first officer of the starship Enterprise with the late American paediatrician Dr Benjamin Spock.

Martyn P Jackson

Cramlington, Northumberland

Forgotten victory for the Navy

In your interesting obituary of Mavis Batey (25 November), you describe Matapan as “the Navy’s first fleet action since Trafalgar”.  Does Jutland not count?

Gordon Elliot

Burford, Oxfordshire

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