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Thursday 30 July 2009
Letters: UK fisheries
Iceland's accession to EU could save UK fisheries
Iceland's application to join the EU should be welcomed (report, 16 July). Iceland already fulfils most of the community's membership criteria, and its application should be fast-tracked.
Had it not been for its lucrative fishing industry, Iceland would have joined the EU long ago. It needs only look to Scotland to see how the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has destroyed fish stocks and laid waste to great swathes of our coastal communities.
The European Commission's Green Paper on CFP reform, which has just begun its legislative passage, offers a glimmer of hope. The Commission has admitted that its management policies have failed. The Green Paper points the way to radical initiatives that will devolve control of fisheries management from the Brussels bureaucrats, handing it over to the stakeholders, the fishermen themselves.
Wary of opening their rich fishing grounds to Europe's fleets, Iceland's politicians are calling for a special deal, hoping compromise can be found that will exempt Iceland's fishing sector from the CFP.
I can assure Iceland that many of us in Brussels will follow negotiations with great interest, because any concessions given to Iceland will also be demanded for Scotland and the rest of the UK.
In this respect Iceland can act as a trailblazer. If Iceland joins the EU without having to sign up to the CFP, then the UK can surely make a case for opting out of the CFP too?
Struan Stevenson MEP
Senior Vice President of the Fisheries Committee, Brussels
Love, hate and wind turbines
When you watch the fight to keep wind-turbine manufacturing in the Isle of Wight and you see how pleased The Wight Against Rural Turbines (ThWART) were to defeat the planning application for six wind turbines near Yarmouth in 2006 you seem to have the UK's love-hate relationship with onshore wind in a nutshell.
I have just visited Orkney on holiday and watched red-throated divers on an RSPB reserve directly beneath a large wind turbine on Burgar Hill – I don't personally see why the hate part seems to win at the expense of jobs and the battle against climate change.
Prof Patrick Corbett
You are right to point out that research is essential for the growth of the UK's renewable industry ("A blow to renewable energy?", 24 July). Taking the offshore wind industry as an example, significant technical challenges still lie in the path of constructing the 7,000 turbines we need to help us reach our 2020 renewable targets. The next generation of offshore wind-farm sites lie many miles offshore, in water depths of up to 60 metres. Building wind farms in these challenging conditions is an expensive business, but we believe that research into cheaper and more efficient methods of construction could significantly cut the cost of energy production.
Our analysis also demonstrates that by getting the research and the regulatory framework right, the UK can lead the world in offshore wind power and capture some 40 per cent of the global market by 2020, and by 2050 generate 225,000 British jobs. The announcement of £120m of Government funding for offshore wind in the recent renewable-energy strategy will help but everyone – industry, government and the public – must urgently pull together to make this a reality.
Chief Executive, Carbon Trust,
It was reassuring to see from Ed Miliband's letter of 25 July that the planning rules for wind turbines are going to be changed.
A few years ago, I applied for planning from my local council, the Vale of the White Horse in Oxfordshire, to put up a micro-generating wind turbine on my small organic farm. I had already installed solar panels and, as the wind rushes past me at a good 6kmph it seemed sensible to take advantage of this open site on the Downs.
My application was turned down because this is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the wind turbine, though only the size of a telegraph pole, would be an unacceptable object when seen from the Ridgeway national trail. This despite the fact that one of the sights that can be seen from all the Oxfordshire and West Berkshire Ridgeway is the steaming towers of Didcot power station. And, latterly, to my surprise, a wind farm of giant turbines has appeared well within view at Faringdon.
Landowners should be obliged, or at least strongly encouraged, to have turbines of an appropriate size on their land. These could be connected to the national grid, and we could move forward on our quest for a greener, but still pleasant, land.
P A Reid
During my recent visit to the Isle of Wight I enjoyed cycling along quiet country lanes – mostly against a fierce head wind. While the main topic on the local news bulletins was the Vestas controversy, the only reference to this was the occasional placard in a front garden or on a tree stating the local population's opposition to any wind-farm proposal in their community. No wonder that Vestas has given up on a local presence and has decided to go elsewhere.
S U Sjolin
Bury ST Edmunds
So the Vestas company is leaving the Isle of Wight because it cannot sell its turbines in the UK. This is a sad reflection on the public's awareness of the urgent necessity for sustainable power generation. In the past there were numerous windmills all along the South Downs and in many other places, as local place names testify. We accept huge electricity pylons striding across the countryside because we have got used to them. Could it be that our inherent nimbyism will ultimately lead to the lights going off ?
Steyning, West Sussex
Obstacles for wheelchair users
Thanks to David Prosser for "My life in a wheelchair" (27 July). I am the primary carer for my mother, who is a wheelchair user, so I am more than aware of the daily problems faced by wheelchair users.
In our town we have pavements which have not seen a repair done in many a long day, full of cracks, pot holes and loose slabs etc. We have long stretches of roadway without drop curbs, and many shops with high steps and/or heavy doors which make it nigh on impossible to access. But the biggest problem we have is a town and county council that simply does not want to listen.
I have written to local councillors inviting them to accompany myself and my mother on a regular daily trip from our house to our nearest shopping centre, a journey of about one mile, to see the problems we encounter at first hand. I have received exactly zero replies.
If our local councillors cannot be bothered to take an hour or two out of their schedules to experience the problems that many of their voters encounter in their daily lives, then what hope do we have of ever getting any real change in attitudes to, and facilities for, the disabled?
Clevedon, North Somerset
Falling for the forecast, again
So, we hear that the long-term forecast of a summer to put those of the last two years in the shade needs to be corrected (report, 29 July). The odds of a boiling summer in 2009 were 65 per cent it was proclaimed; a "barbecue summer" the Met Office (or should that be the media?) promised.
It's inevitable, of course, that as a nation we will be looking for someone to blame when another poor summer envelops our sodden isle – but this is surely inevitable when seasonal forecasting which, as the Met Office has admitted is "a very difficult thing to do", undeservedly grabs so many column inches just when we all start looking forward to the summer months.
An admirable atheist camp
Sir: Much as I would like to accept the credit for Camp Quest (Opinion, 29 July), I have nothing to do with it.
From all I hear, Camp Quest is wholly admirable, teaching children how to think, not what to think. This makes a telling contrast to the religiously inspired camps in Pakistan you report on (29 July). An especially chilling paragraph tells how the boys are divided into three groups: the most intelligent to act as spies, the most athletic to become fighters, while those judged to be "less intelligent and more susceptible to manipulation" join the "stockpile" of suicide bombers. In the American "Jesus Camp", the children are drilled with dummy rifles to fight for Jesus.
For those who monotonously repeat the litany about "militant atheists" being just as bad as religious fundamentalists – is it possible that a comparison with Camp Quest might shake them into saying something less boringly predictable and more just?
Tube plans that bode ill for 2012
Your big question of 28 July asks how preparations for the 2012 Olympics are going, and what could go wrong.
If anyone needs evidence that Transport for London and Boris Johnson the Mayor will make London a laughing stock they need only to look at the upcoming chaos "planned" engineering work on the Tube will cause.
West Ham United play Tottenham and Liverpool at home in August and September; these will be sell-out games with 35,000 or so fans in attendance. West Ham, Plaistow and Upton Park underground stations will be the main route for most of these fans except – they are shut for planned engineering work.
The death of the British pub
Most pubs are closing because they are owned by greedy property companies that charge extortionate rents, with draconian restrictions on where the publican can source supplies, meaning that pubs cannot compete with supermarkets (letters, 29 July).
For the owner of the freehold this is the desired result, because a closed pub is a development opportunity.
The actual owners of the pub – the directors of the property companies – don't care a jot, because they all drink at the golf club.
In your report on the visit by Joanna Lumley, Peter Carroll and Dhan Gurung to Nepal (27 July), Dhan is described as a "counsellor". Dhan is a local "councillor" in his home town of Folkestone – now serving his local community as he once served our country.
The forgotten war
My father was born in 1896 and enlisted in the army of the First World War three weeks before his 18th birthday. He shipped out from Dover to a campaign whose losses were dwarfed by the European carnage. His "forgotten war" deserves to be remembered. He served on India's North West Frontier and in Mesopotamia, now called, respectively, Afghanistan and Iraq.
It is almost incredible that Bruce Anderson, in his piece concerning the Great War (27 July), did not devote a single word to the actual results of that catastrophic war. One of the reasons that so much bitterness and controversy surrounds it still is that despite the horrendous sacrifices of the troops, the "war to end all wars" only helped sow the seeds for an even more terrible war a mere 21 years later.
I can confirm Harry Walker's memory of free milk in school prior to the 1950s (letters, 29 July). I enjoyed school milk at my junior school in Doncaster during the early 1930s, and I well remember graduating from ink monitor to milk monitor in my final year.
F L VAUX
No change in Norwich
Using different hammers, your correspondents Gale, Pinkerton and Hills (letters, 27 July) hit the same nail on the head; the reason for the "30 years of Thatcherism" which the bloodthirsty, minority-choice Chloe Smith will perpetuate is our rotten, undemocratic electoral system. If we don't radically alter it, we will go on, with David Cameron, greeting the election of reactionary MPs as "a vote for change".
Colin V Smith
St Helens, Merseyside
Talk to the Taliban?
Your leading article "We should not be afraid to talk to the Taliban" (28 July) is an irony-free zone, with its reference to "moderate Taliban". Those would be the sock-and-sandal-wearing, Guardian-reading, potential Lib-Dem-voting Taliban, I suppose?
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