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- Arts + Ents
Wednesday 6 June 2012
Letters: We need wind farms - but where?
Your front page headline "Build more turbines" (4 June) was welcome news for those wind turbine supporters like myself beleaguered in the Tory heartland of the South where nimbys hold sway. I have been criticised for suggesting that political and not planning considerations are partly responsible for keeping places like the Isle of Wight turbine-free zones.
Your poll showing a virtual 3-1 majority in favour of building more onshore turbines shows that it is only a matter of time before the "anti" stance is overcome as the younger generation have their say. But for the time being David Cameron's desire to make his the greenest of governments will continue to be thwarted by his own supporters.
Sandown, Isle of Wight
If the respondents had a wind farm so close to them that the noise prevented them from sleeping, your survey might have come up with a different result.
Your environment editor's final comment is absolutely correct: "The point is to try to make sure that the turbines only go in the appropriate place." However we are not going to achieve that if we continue to leave the siting of wind farms to the whims of local authorities. Here in Northamptonshire we are in danger of becoming the wind farm capital of the UK, but it is one of the least windy counties in the country and entirely unsuitable for wind farms. Some of our local councils seem to think it is more important to be seen to be green than to look after the interests of the residents. Perhaps we also have a surfeit of greedy landowners who are prepared to put their own interests above those of the community.
We need a national plan to ensure that turbines are only put in places where they will actually work at more than the derisory levels achieved in many places; we need sensible guidelines to protect local communities, and that includes a separation distance of at least 2 kilometres between turbines and housing; we need an up-to-date standard for measuring noise, as the current standard was set when turbines were substantially smaller than they are now; and finally we do need to listen to worthy bodies such as CPRE, English Heritage and the National Trust to ensure that our countryside and heritage are not ruined for generations to come.
So, 68 per cent of the population believe that new wind farms are "an acceptable price to pay". Would that be seven-eighths of the 80 per cent of the population that live in urban areas and have virtually no likelihood of being directly impacted visually, aurally, or in their pockets through lowered property values? Of course the price is acceptable – they won't have to pay it.
It appears they are unacceptable in remote regions as they spoil an "unspoilt view", and they are equally unacceptable in places where lots of people can see them. What is the right location for these machines, widely agreed as necessary?
Jubilee reminder of Cromwell's big mistake
Cromwell made a huge mistake. He allowed himself to be persuaded that the head-of-state role was his for life, and that his son Richard should succeed him. Hereditary succession to the position of head of state is wrong and infantilising, and cannot be tolerated by any thinking democrat, even if the vacuous super-entitled old lady filling the role now is perfectly lovely.
Royalists like Dominic Kirkham letter, 4 June) deride republicans for not valuing the stability and cohesiveness that he thinks our monarchy provides.
The feudal system was stable for centuries, and we'd still be stuck with that if people hadn't valued progress over stability. The cohesiveness he sees is the bonding of people willing to swallow the inequity of inherited entitlement and indulge in quasi-religious ceremonies designed to reinforce our status as compliant subjects rather than free-thinking citizens.
I am certainly not alone in finding the whole charade rather repugnant, but many more people are simply uninterested. In our street, three out of 70 houses have some bunting out. The only flags I see in town are outside pubs and other commercial enterprises hoping to cash in over the holiday.
The BBC has hyped the Jubilee into the biggest celebration in 60 years. Yet for the great majority the most important aspect is simply the extended bank holiday.
I lose two days' paid work because the country is on an enforced holiday – no paid holidays for the self-employed. One of my clients is set to lose £20,000 to pay for his staff's holiday. Multiply that across the country: hundreds of millions lost to celebrate someone who has never had to worry about where next month's income is coming from.
I see the monarchist objection to our becoming a republic is "President Blair" or similar. There is a very simple protection against that – disqualify all politicians from being eligible for election as our President. Do I hear "President Attenborough", anyone?
If the thought of President Blair frightens the monarchists, then the republicans can surely counter with the thought of King Charles.
Methven, Perth & Kinross
Please, in the pursuance of your code of impartiality, may we have some cartoons in favour of the monarchy, which costs less than a succession of presidents and their lifelong pensions and keeps politics out of our state occasions?
Working parents deserve better
A worrying picture is being painted of the spiralling cost of childcare in the UK by the CentreForum ("Red tape is making childcare too expensive for poor families, says MP", 21 May). Government reforms have of course been suggested but employers also need to realise that they have a role to play in alleviating pressure on working parents.
According to the recent research, the UK is one of the most expensive countries in Europe for childcare and is now cripplingly expensive for a large proportion of the workforce. Our own research shows lower earners can spend up to 35 per cent of their income on childcare costs.
Employers must recognise that working parents require more flexibility and understand the benefits that this highly experienced segment of the workforce bring to the table. Companies failing to provide flexibility may blunt their own competitive edge by losing, or failing to attract, people with skills, knowledge, and traits which underpin performance.
Whether introducing inexpensive measures such as flexible working or setting up an onsite creche, employers need to be brave in tackling the problem and be prepared to invest in supportive measures.
Reward Information Consultant, Hay Group
You propose (leading article, 30 May) that child benefit should be cut even further, to fund better child care. But this would mean the whole burden of paying for any improvements falling on families with children.
Child benefit replaced child tax allowances, as well as the old "family allowance". But now child benefit is being frozen for three years, while personal income tax allowances are being increased in real terms. This means the balance of tax is already being shifted towards those with children paying relatively more than those without.
If it is important for the country as a whole that we improve child care, as you suggest, we should all be paying for this.
Good and bad ways to get rich
Michael Gilbert (letter, 4 June) states that we turn successful people who become rich into pariahs. No, we do not.
People who become rich by starting a business which benefits themselves while providing goods or services, which helps to create jobs and also benefits the world as a whole deserve all they get (after reasonable tax) and they get the respect of the great majority of people.
Where reasonable people draw the line is is with those who make money by gambling with other people's money and make money by moving money around the system.
These parasites make money by taking advantage of struggling firms which they buy cheap, sack the workforce and sell the assets. These parasites buy stocks and shares with other people's money and sell at a profit which they then pocket.
I think that Mr Gilbert should think carefully about those to whose defence he leaps: parasites live off us all, including him.
Let our expats have a vote
Votes in parliamentary elections for French citizens living abroad, highlighted in your report of 31 May, indicate that France is a more democratic country than the United Kingdom. British subjects living abroad have no such opportunity to influence policy at Westminster. Furthermore, those living in British overseas territories such as St Helena have no representation in Parliament, unlike similar French territories, which are treated as part of France.
Is it not time that expats were given a say in government? After all, some will have served the country during war and most will be in receipt of a state pension.
John Jamieson Blanche
Figure it out
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (4 June) writes: "In 1997, one in four men and one in seven women were living with mum and dad. In 2011 the figures are 20 per cent higher." It's 10 minutes of my life I'm not going to get back trying to figure out the difference between the two years. She is not the worst offender – this confusion of number style is all over journalism, print, broadcast and electronic. Can we have some kind of "category editor" to look out for this kind of thing?
Todmorden, West Yorkshire
In the vanguard
It is sad to see the end of another bit of Britain's engineering capacity, with the closure of the Vickers Armstrong factory on Tyneside. I am surprised to read in your report (1 June) that the factory was producing Chieftain tanks in the Second World War, since they were not introduced until 1966. The army in the 1940s would have been delighted to have had a superior tank to the German Tiger.
White public school boy is suspected of breaking ministerial code: no action. Asian grammar school girl is suspected of breaking ministerial code: inquiry ordered. Good to see that the one-nation Tories are still with us.
Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire
Are there any problems left in the world or have they all become "issues"?
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