Letters: Problems for turbine factory

Government holds out hope for 'doomed' turbine factory

Related Topics

Your front page (23 July) missed the reality of the problems faced by Vestas. The factory makes onshore wind turbines for a different-sized turbine designed solely for the US market. Its products are shipped to the US, and it has now opened a US facility to serve that market.

For months, we have worked with the company to understand what would be required for them to convert their factory to making onshore blades for the UK. The issue for them was not subsidies from government but how they could get sufficient volumes of orders.

Despite a 67 per cent increase in offshore wind generation last year and 29 per cent increase in onshore wind output, they do not yet have sufficient orders. We need to grow the market further to help, and central to that is planning.

Ditlev Engel, the chief executive of Vestas, described Britain as "probably one of the most difficult places in the world to get permission". That is why the planning rules are being changed by the government from April next year.

We are unlikely to be a centre for onshore wind production, if up and down the country, and indeed on the Isle of Wight, onshore wind applications are consistently turned down. So we have to win a political argument that environmentally and industrially, onshore wind is part of the solution.

Vestas are keeping a protoype plant and we are considering an application from them for government help to test and develop offshore wind-blades in a factory employing 150 people on the Isle of Wight initially and potentially more later.

Alongside this, we will invest £120m in offshore wind manufacturing and £60m in the marine industry. This is an active industrial strategy designed to create low-carbon jobs throughout the country.

Ed Miliband

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, London SW1

Cocaine users have blood on hands

This week, my ex-husband's 19-year-old son was shot four times in the head in Colombia ("Cocaine Britain", front page, 24 July). Two men (one aged 17 and one 21) lay in wait for him and killed him. I don't know the extent of his involvement but he had upset somebody in "The Business" and he paid with his life. The family was torn apart – and not for the first time – by a cocaine-related murder.

Fuelled by the demand for the drug from the West, cocaine is little more than a cash crop in Colombia but more lucrative than coffee and more dangerous, too. Young, uneducated men, they are fodder for the cartels, as those in Pakistan may be to al-Qa'ida, employed as runners, drivers or go-betweens. They may never even see the drug but they are part of the process and they cannot leave it without being at risk of execution.

To those people in the UK or elsewhere who buy cheap cocaine and think it's harmless fun: this week, you have the blood of a 19-year-old boy on your hands and the blood of every other young poor Colombian before him who got sucked into this industry and paid the ultimate price. I hope that your high is worth that.

Kristina West

London W6

So we have yet more "shock statistics" on drug use among young British people, this time, on cocaine (up) and cannabis (down). It is plain that the drugs war is being lost and lost badly. Prohibition is expensively failing to stop one million UK cocaine-users funding a trade of extreme violence and venality. But your commentators advocate the tired old status quo.

The president of the College of Emergency Medicine, John Heyworth, calls for the justice system to adopt a "zero-tolerance" approach to cocaine, and we have Kristina Backer giving a personal view that the reclassification of cannabis to Class B was right because of the more potent "skunk" varieties of cannabis now prevalent

Underpinning both views is the discredited idea that prohibition, and the more rigorous enforcement of it, discourages use. With cocaine, there are one million answers to that and, for cannabis, three million. With the justice system spending billions of pounds every year and lengthy prison sentences, it is anyone's guess about what more Mr Heyworth believes can be done in the same vein.

Possession of Class A drugs has a maximum sentence of seven years and, supply, life imprisonment. Is he seriously suggesting this is not enough or that the police should devote more scarce resources to tracking and prosecuting users with greater vigour. Ms Backer refers blithely to smoking a spliff at a party with friends who are smokers. But in her advocacy of the reclassification to Class B, she is plainly forgetting that it is a criminal classification. It means she and her friends face a maximum prison term of five years (up from two years for Class C, cannabis' earlier classification) for possession and 14 years for supply.

Supply can include simply passing around a joint and possession includes past possession, to which Ms Blacker has admitted. Is she really willing to sacrifice herself and her friends' liberty for the specious principle that greater criminal penalties quell demand?

John Clinch

London EC2

The truth about the Saudi regime

Your commentator Professor Nonneman ("Delicate relationship where national interests and morality often conflict", 20 July) appears to live in a parallel universe where adverse criticism of the Saudi regime is considered to be "simplistic, negative image-making in the British media" while dubious statements by supporters are accepted without question.

For example, with regard to the al-Yamamah deal, Professor Nonneman mentions "persistent allegations of corruption" against BAE and the Saudi royal family, as though these were minor peccadilloes, rather than huge payments through secret bank accounts.

And he is happy to accept BAE and government spin that 30,000 British jobs were supported by the contract when even a Eurofighter-commissioned study suggested about 5,000 jobs. He justifies the halting of the Serious Fraud Office investigation on economic and security grounds but fails to say this came about after the Saudi government threatened the UK government to withdraw diplomatic and intelligence co-operation if the SFO case went ahead.

Most British people do not want to sell arms to a secretive and abusive regime such as Saudi Arabia, nor do they want to see the justice process undermined or the UK succumb to blackmail.

Kaye Stearman

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), London N4

The airline industry and climate change

Thank goodness for a sensible summary of the state of the climate change debate ("The Big Question: Will it really be possible to meet the G8's climate change targets?", 10 July).

It's true that people don't like being told to "make do with less", especially as it often comes from those who patently don't. Nowhere is this dilemma more acute than air travel, whose successes in wresting flying from the hands of an elite, and helping halt the UK's relative decline, are a good thing, and a reason why we argue for expansion where it's needed, at airports such as Heathrow.

But aviation has to be grown up about its environmental impact, a pressing reason for us to help drive technological progress though the cross-sector forum "Sustainable Aviation". Biofuels are a part of its work (and more promising than Michael McCarthy suggests), but we have to deliver on a range of fronts, from revolutionary aircraft design to carbon-neutral airports.

Robert Siddall

Chief Executive, Airport Operators Association, London SW1

Aid can still help Africa prosper

Dominic Lawson's critique of aid (Comment, 14 July) ignores the millions of people in the developing world who have had life-saving healthcare and life-changing education paid for by the UK and other donors. He is right that the ultimate aim of aid must be to help Africa to stand tall on the world stage without outside help. He is also correct that if Africa is to realise its potential it requires fair access to overseas markets.

With Africa expected to lose $245bn this year as a result of the economic crisis, aid remains vital to efforts to combat poverty, hunger and disease. Mr Lawson's indifference to the suffering of poor people abroad is revealed by his attitude to climate change. This is a problem that is already devastating the lives of millions and it is a problem rich countries, not poor, have caused.

Climate change is not someone else's problem, and it is worrying that he is unable to comprehend the biggest threat to human development of the 21st century.

Phil Bloomer

Oxfam GB, Oxford

What's the panic over swine flu?

I have just been diagnosed by the NHS national pandemic website as probably having swine flu (although the advice is so vague as to be almost meaningless, I might have swine flu but then I might have other, underlying symptoms as well).

I am a reasonably fit 53-year-old male. I have had worse colds than this but it did knock me sideways for a couple of days and I had to take time off from work, so I know some people will be affected a lot worse.

What concerns me is the hype and over-reaction of the governing bodies, panicking people into near-hysteria about avoiding a deadly disease that could have shocking mortality rates, when it is now admitted by those same governing bodies that it is merely a new form of influenza that could make vulnerable groups (the elderly, children and immuno-compromised persons) seriously ill.

In any flu outbreak people die, but to cause all this panic and exhaust all this time and money over what is no more than a different strain that will make most sufferers ill for a few days is grossly irresponsible. This is the third time the authorities have cried wolf over health issues, after the overblown Sars and bird-flu fiascos. If something really serious breaks out, such as smallpox, ebola virus or bubonic plague, there will be apathy and unresponsiveness because people will be fed up with vague and confusing advice lines and websites.

And the helpline advice does not deal in certainties but in "could bes" and "might haves", and the individual making their own choices about whether they have swine flu or not. People who are ill cannot usually take such decisions and rely on a medical person to make those decisions for them.

Do those in power think the panic is a good way to distract us from giving them a hard time over the mismanagement of the economy, the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the scandal of MPs' finances, etc etc?

Eric Chadwick


Out of tune

It wasn't six years ago that the Tony Blair government decided on curbing live music in pubs and clubs (Comment, 21 July). As an ex-publican ( and guitarist) I can assure people that laws had been in place for decades. More than one musician playing live requires a music licence issued by the local council and approved by the police, fire services and the health and safety department.

Glenn Douglas

Budapest, Hungary

Behind green taxes

Allan Williams says, "the purpose of an 'environmental tax' is to reduce the amount of pollution from the source being taxed" (letters, 24 July). Green taxes and other economic instruments are only partly aimed at changing behaviour. The other purpose is to compensate for the loss suffered by one party who is the victim of the polluting behaviour of another. In this case, the government, as custodian of the environment, is entitled to be compensated for the harm done to its ward (the environment) by companies who earn from flying.

Stephen Mendes

Port Louis, Mauritius

Bus problem solved

Maggie Humphreys (letters, 24 July) describes the absurdity of a shorter bus journey costing more than a longer one. The passenger should just get off the bus at the earlier stop. There is no way he can be legally or physically held on the bus and forced to make a journey he does not want.

Sam Boote


Forget elections

Tehran's Islamic fanatics (letters, 21, 23 July) should learn from the Middle East's one true democracy. When a regime wishes to dispute an election result the acceptable procedure is: One, call the victors terrorists and assassinate their activists; two, recognise a powerless government of the defeated party and install a president of proven subservience; and, three, intensify confiscation of the electorate's property, corral them into a narrow strip of land and obliterate schools, hospitals, and political infrastructure. You can ignore protests; your nuclear arsenal will remain unmolested, and arms and finance will flow unimpeded.

Martin Housden

London E8

You've bean told

Reading Brian Viner's article, "Scottish Grub" (Life, 23 July), reminded me of the time I went to a café in Ayr with "Coffee" in the name. I asked the proprietor what sort of coffee they had and was told, "Broon, whit else would it be?".

A-M Thomson

London W13

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Children of a bygone era  

Kids these days aren't what they used to be — they're a lot better. So why the fuss?

Archie Bland
A suited man eyes up the moral calibre of a burlesque troupe  

Be they burlesque dancers or arms dealers, a bank has no business judging the morality of its clients

John Walsh
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star