Sir: David Bellamy continues his relentless opposition to wind energy (letter, 20 April), once again turning a blind eye to the threat of climate change and the need to secure our energy supplies in the UK, while ignoring the unique opportunity that wind energy provides.
The old arguments that David Bellamy puts forward on wind energy regarding CO2 emission savings, intermittency and associated costs have been rebutted time and time again, most recently in the most authoritative report to date by the UK Energy Research Centre, published a fortnight ago, which drew on two hundred studies from around the world. UKERC dismissed such criticisms of wind as "out of step with the vast majority of international expert analysis" and concluded "intermittency need not present a significant obstacle to the development of renewable sources" and "wind power leads to a direct reduction in CO2 emissions."
Electricity from wind energy is poised to become even more competitive as oil and gas prices look set to continue to rise while wind power is a resource which is free, indigenous and not subject to political interference and has no associated carbon or waste disposal costs. Wind is leading the way for other key renewable technologies by securing investor confidence in the renewables sector and acting as a catalyst for a distributed grid network, without which other renewable technologies will not fully prosper.
The UK benefits from 40 per cent of Europe's wind resource, from which appropriately sited onshore and offshore wind farms can meet close to a fifth of our electricity supplies by 2020, delivering major economic benefits to the UK of at least £16bn and avoiding 32 million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year, hardly insignificant in our battle to tackle climate change - by far the greatest threat facing our landscape and our way of life.
MARCUS RAND, BRITISH WIND ENERGY ASSOCIATION; ALAN WHITEHEAD MP, PARLIAMENTARY RENEWABLE AND SUSTAINABLE ENERGY GROUP; DR BERNARD BULKIN, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION; TONY GRAYLING, INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC POLICY RESEARCH; GUY THOMPSON, GREEN ALLIANCE; MARK AVERY, ROYAL SOCIETY FOR THE PROTECTION OF BIRDS; MAF SMITH, SCOTTISH RENEWABLES FORUM; DUNCAN MCLAREN, FRIENDS OF THE EARTH SCOTLAND; TONY JUNIPER, FRIENDS OF THE EARTH; SIMON REDDY, , GREENPEACE; ROBERT NAPIER, WWF; PHILIP WOLFE, RENEWABLE ENERGY ASSOCIATION; IAN BYRNE, NATIONAL ENERGY FOUNDATION; LONDON N1
How ministers set the scene for BNP
Sir: The Government must take considerable credit for the recently reported increase in popularity of the BNP. It has been giving implicit messages for several years that have promoted the views that find their natural home in parties such as the BNP.
David Blunkett suggested that Britain risked becoming "swamped" by asylum seekers. The Government has talked of immigration as a "problem" (rather than addressing demographic questions in an unprejudiced way), and has thus implied that immigrants themselves are a "problem".
The series of measures to harass asylum seekers, imprisoning them, depleting their legal aid, making failed asylum seekers homeless and taking their children away from them, all make it clear that these are expendable semi-humans who should not expect rights or quality of life in the same way as indigenous British people.
The Government also decided that it is legitimate to imprison terror suspects without trial or to put them under draconian house arrest regimes. Thus they create another set of Muslim people for whom law is not supposed to apply, along with those the Government colludes in keeping in Guantanamo Bay, or allows to be sent for "extraordinary rendition".
The Government's war on Iraq also delivers the same starkly racist implicit message - that to prevent another event like 9/11, in which 3,000, mainly Americans, died, it is legitimate to kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and not even to dignify the victims by counting how many have been killed.
DR TIMOTHY FARRELL
Sir: A vote for the BNP is a vote for racist, bigoted and downright nasty policies. To say that the poor working class are mocked on all sides so of course they will vote for the BNP is patronising, lumping all "working class" people into one large, ignorant spoon-fed bunch (letter, 20 April).
I'm living in an area with a huge social housing problem. After eight years of living in a tiny, damp two-bedroom flat with a family of five I have no chance (and have been told so) of getting a more suitable home, either through council housing (I'm not considered "in need" enough) or privately (how do you get a deposit together for expensive London housing on benefits or low wages?).
We face all the usual social issues here - but nothing, absolutely nothing, could make me want to vote for a far-right party. I'd sooner cut off my arm than ever vote BNP, or Tory for that matter. Being poor and disadvantaged in many ways does not mean you are unable to see the BNP for what they are.
Enforcing the law on TV licensing
Sir: Following Christopher Hirst's article "The truth about the licence fee" (15 April), your readers might be interested to know why we operate our current policies.
Clearly we don't assume that everyone owns a television. However, according to the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (BARB), the overwhelming majority of households in the UK - 98 per cent - do own a TV set. Our database has over 28 million addresses and, in order to keep our details up to date, we do ask people to inform us of any change in circumstances, such as no longer owning a television. We can then record this fact so that they don't receive enforcement letters.
It is our duty to enforce the law on behalf of the honest majority who pay the licence, and unfortunately some people will buy a licence only after they have been warned of the consequences of being unlicensed. Some of our letters, therefore, do contain messages that are designed to deter a possible evader.
If someone informs TV Licensing that they either do not have a TV receiver, or do not use it to receive TV programme services, we visit the property in order to verify this. This is to identify genuine non-users of television so that we can minimise future contact for a number of years. After this time we would only get in touch to check that circumstances have not changed e.g. that people have not moved house. Our inquiry officers work to a strict code of conduct and are expected to conduct their inquiries in the least intrusive way possible.
Contrary to Mr Hirst's comments, evasion is spread across all socio-economic groups in the UK. Last year, 400,000 evaders were caught. However, TV Licensing would much prefer that people pay rather than be prosecuted.
Mr Hirst advised that readers should claim they have a black and white television. We would like to advise that evaders who falsely claim to have a black and white television and who, in fact, are watching colour television, risk prosecution and a maximum £1,000 fine.
He also asserted that TV Licensing can get a search warrant "on the nod". In order to obtain a search warrant, we have to demonstrate to a magistrates' court that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence is being committed and entry has been refused. We only use search warrants in these circumstances if necessary and as a last resort.
TV LICENSING LONDON WC2
Children kidnapped by the Nazis
Sir: Your article "Germany agrees to open Holocaust archive" (20 April) refers to the Lebensborn as an organisation where SS men "were used to breed the nucleus of Hitler's aryan master race".
In fact the Lebensborn was an organisation which kidnapped "racially suitable" children from across Europe, especially Poland, and gave them to German foster parents. Most of them were never traced after the war. Its other function was to act as a secluded clinic for the confinement and birth of children fathered not just by SS men but also soldiers of the Wehrmacht. The mothers were from the local populations of countries occupied by Germany.
It was not, as implied in your article, an SS stud farm. The point is important, as inaccuracies of this kind give succour to those who wish to challenge the truth of what happened.
Biggest disaster in US history
Sir: While I enjoyed reading Andrew Gumbel's article on the 100th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake (18 April), the headline accompanying it gives readers the impression that the calamity was the deadliest incident in US history.
The hurricane and tidal wave that struck Galveston, Texas, on 8 September 1900 actually ranks as America's greatest disaster. More than 8,000 persons across the Gulf Coast perished in that tragedy, during the era before radar began to assist in storm prediction.
There is no doubt, however, that the next inevitable "Big One" in San Francisco will be frightful, in light of a higher population and the fact that many older buildings are not up to modern earthquake-resistant standards.
DENNIS J O'BRIEN
RESTON, VIRGINIA, USA
Churlish attitude towards the Queen
Sir: Whatever you think of the institution of monarchy, of its past or its prospects, there is no doubt that the Queen has provided a service to her people which commands general admiration both here and around the world. Not to share in the national celebration of the Queen's 80th birthday is to cross the boundary from principled constitutional criticism to disaffection and churlishness.
Your "alternative" royal front page (21 April), and relegation of the birthday to a page 18 short, is an undergraduate prank which, while it may raise a few smiles, should have been overruled by a responsible editor. It is a disgrace.
Sir: On Friday 21 April I was gloriously reminded as to why I read The Independent. While every other form of media was awash in blind subservience over the non-event of Elizabeth Windsor's 80th birthday, the good old Indie noted the fact, very appropriately, as a minor item under "News in Brief". No wonder the circulation keeps increasing. Keep up the good work!
DR RON DAWSON
WINTERBORNE STICKLAND, DORSET
Sparrows thrive in Victorian garden
Sir: Yesterday I saw three sparrows in my back garden. I had read in your paper about them and their population crisis ("First they disappeared from Britain. Now Europe's house sparrows have vanished", 19 April) . I thought then that having three is surely now a lot of sparrows, and then I thought about the environment of our garden.
Next door we have a neighbour aged about 86 who still lives in his parents' house and his garden has not only never had a makeover perhaps since the house was built, 1895-6, but has now become a small area of "organic" woodland in which lives a township of birds including sparrows. This is a small concentrated space originally used I believe to hang washing, too small to ever have been a decorative garden to the Victorians or Edwardians. The original washing line posts remain. Perhaps the "original" insects do too?
The average person is reputed to move house every few years. That is an awful lot of garden makeovers. We have been here for 19 years now and still have not had one ourselves.
Our garden is a continuation of the garden of our predecessors who lived in this house for over 40 years.
I fear the day when our neighbour has to move house for then this incredible habitat will be obliterated and I wonder if there is any way it could be protected, not least because of the sparrows.
GENEVIEVE DRAPER HARDIE
Sir: Sorry to nitpick even further on the subject of "five-master tea clippers" (letter, 20 April). I believe all of the British tea clippers were three-masted, like the only survivor, Cutty Sark.
WEST WITTERING, CHICHESTER
Colourful ice cream
Sir: The "black and tan" porter and ale drink which inspires Ben and Jerry's new ice-cream flavour gets a mention in Barrère and Leland's 1889 Dictionary of Slang, Jargon and Cant ("The chilling story of the Black and Tans", 21 April). It therefore both predates and outlives the black and khaki uniforms of the brutal Royal Irish Constabulary reserves, who got their name from the black and tan markings of a particularly fierce pack of hunting dogs.
Sir: Your article on Cornish house prices (15 April) says that "3,500 people still speak Cornish conversationally". It may well be that 3,500 people in Cornwall converse in Cornish, as many may well do so in Latin, Esperanto or Classical Greek. What you do not make clear is that the Cornish language, despite the propaganda of Cornish nationalists, is a dead language. The considered last person to speak Cornish (as well as English) as a native dialect was Dolly Pentreath, who died in December 1777.
Sir: Peter Cadogan is right to suggest that there was a difference of campaigning methods in the early years of the peace movement (Letters, 19 April). For many years now, however, this distinction has ceased to be definitive. CND embraces a diverse range of peaceful campaigning methods from parliamentary lobbying, through marches, street stalls and trade union activity, to non-violent direct action.
CHAIR, CAMPAIGN FOR NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT, LONDON N7
Sir: One thing Ed Caesar may have missed ("So, is Tony Blair really like Charles II?", 20 April). Charles II became a Roman Catholic on his deathbed.
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