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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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RSPB conflict of interest over wind turbines

ONE might be forgiven for thinking that whenever there is a significant threat to our wild places, there is an organisation that will champion the causes of protection and conservation.FROM day one in 1997 when Tony Blair took office, this country has been subjected to continuous political spin.FURTHER to your articles regarding the Rotary club of Workington and their criticism of Allerdale council (Times & Star, February 13), I want to clarify comments made at our meeting on February 6.AFTER reading Mr Leighton’s comments regarding the British National Party members and supporters (letters, January 16), I feel that I must answer his misguided views.A FEW weeks of cold weather and the climate change deniers in the UK Independence Party take heart. AT LEAST now I know what it’s like to be mauled by a dead sheep after Chris Gerrard’s feeble bleating (letters, February 13). THE reasons for the extremely low turnout at the referendum on Workington’s proposed new shared stadium are unclear. What is clear is that the people of Workington must decide what sort of town they want as a legacy for the next generation.I’M NOT sure whether to congratulate Allerdale council or stand open mouthed with incredulity. AS WELL as snow from the Arctic, the lads in Maryport Round Table were recently visited by Santa to help us to thank the people of Maryport and surrounding villages for their generosity in donating to our seven Santa’s Sleigh collections in December.

In the Solway area particularly, when this estuary is of world importance to migratory birds, one would naturally expect organisations such as the RSPB to adopt an almost over-cautious stance when commenting upon planning applications that may have significant relevance for these sensitive sites of international importance.

However, the public inquiry into the Hellrigg (Silloth) wind farm showed that the RSPB adopts no such stance and seemed almost complicit with developers when dealing with the issues of possible effects upon over-wintering birds.

What seemed worse was that the RSPB and Natural England seem to be the primary consultees and much of the negotiating about bird issues had been undertaken without the input of other organisations such as the Solway Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Like me, others attending the inquiry were surprised that despite the Hellrigg site being a regular feeding ground for over-wintering geese and being in close proximity to the AONB, the RSPB had not come out in opposition to the wind farm.

A recent planning application for a wind cluster at Westnewton discusses the Hellrigg environmental statement and negotiations between the developer, Natural England and the RSPB.

Apparently, goose fatality rates of 21 birds per year were accepted by Natural England adopting a collision avoidance of 99 per cent compared to the 149 birds per year predicted at the more conservative 95 per cent collision avoidance.

I am sure that much of the membership of the RSPB would be dismayed by the poor showing of their organisation in protecting the birds of the Solway.

Perhaps they should consider the wisdom of their organisation’s role as a green energy supplier, deriving some of its revenue through the sale of wind energy.

The very implication of the RSPB in the planning process for wind energy projects would seem to be a conflict of interest to even the most reasonable individuals.

JOHN RYDEN

Westnewton

Aspatria

It is now 2009 and nothing has changed as the world economic and financial crisis has demonstrated all too clearly.

I and, I suspect, most of the electorate are becoming tired of the constant efforts by Gordon Brown and his Cabinet to talk only of the worldwide situation, hoping this will cover for the state of affairs in the UK.

It is the view of many economists that this country has been, is and will be worse affected than the majority of other lands. I have to agree.

Since 1997 we have had a Government that has led us to the verge of bankruptcy, having inherited a strong situation from the outgoing Conservative Government. Nothing was put aside in the so-called good years.

Brown was lucky for a few years as the general world economic situation allowed him to continue on his merry way. Yet when times turned rough, he had nothing on which to fall back.

Ed Balls, the Children’s Secretary, warned that the economic downturn will be worse than the Great Depression and could spark a 1930s-style resurgence of the far right. Thanks Ed for giving some free national propaganda to the British National Party.

Talking of the global recession, he states that there will be seismic events that are going to change the political landscape.

Too true Ed, but not in the way you mean. Come the next General Election there is every chance of a seismic event in the Workington constituency as voters reject New Labour.

JOHN PAYTON

Bitterbeck Close

Cockermouth

The criticism of Allerdale council was because of the lack of support as a corporate body; various officials were in fact helpful and supportive of Paint The Town Red.

Many elected members voiced their support but this did not result in any change in attitude from the council.

We held several meetings with council officials and at the final meeting the deputy leader informed us that there was no money in the pot but they would support us in kind. I feel it was quite cynical that the support offered was that we would not be charged for the council’s help or advice regarding the permissions we sought to enable us to present the festival.

During my working life I had to liaise with many of the council’s departments, in particular licensing, environment health and health and safety, and at no time did my company receive a bill for the help and advice sought. Therefore, why should the Rotary club be informed that this should be the case?

It was also said at the meeting that Workington Town Council were supportive both financially and with assistance generally, likewise the town centre development company, particularly their manager David Fletcher.

They were encouraging and supportive with a serious financial contribution along with the use of their office premises during the lead up to the festival and in particular on the day when David’s office was the festival HQ.

It was reported at the meeting that £30,000 of the £46,000 to fund the day was raised via local industry and businesses and they were thanked for their support.

It also has to be said that the Times & Star was unstinting in its involvement and support for the event over many months.

The whole event would not have taken place without the expertise of Helen Irving, fellow Rotarians, friends and a myriad of people and organisations who gave of their time without payments either in salary or expenses to deliver what is in danger of becoming nothing more than a fading memory of a very enjoyable day in Workington.

JOHN HEAD

Rotary club of Workington

Derwent Bank

Seaton

Having been taught by Mr Leighton some 36 years ago, I have the utmost respect for him but was rather surprised by his ignorance of the policies and aims of the BNP.

Branding people “Nazi and racist” is an easy way to belittle someone and avoid political discussion with them.

I am, like many others, proud to be a member of the BNP and I am not any of the things the likes of Mr Leighton would call me.

I am a working-class man, fortunate to be working after the way our greedy, inept governments over 40 years have dismantled and sold our country down the river.

The BNP is not, as he sees it, about making foreigners second-class citizens; it is about stopping us, the indigenous people of Britain, becoming second-class citizens, as is happening now in the shelving of white heterosexual men in favour of ethnic minorities in police recruitment.

I have worked and lived around Britain and observed many major towns and cities turning into melting pots of different cultures and religions with no-go areas for the likes of us. This is not scare-mongering, it is fact.

British culture, heritage and history is being eroded at every level. This is a road I do not want my birth country to go down.

The BNP is not advocating repatriating legal immigrants, but they should adhere, as we would in their countries, to the fact that they are guests in this country; this is a Christian country, and we have British laws and a legal system.

Is it wrong to ask people to respect this country as we would respect theirs? Or am I being racist or Nazi?

STEPHEN HARRIS

Brooklands Avenue

Maryport

One of their members recently described the measures being taken across the European Union to slow the speed of global warming as ‘not merely misguided but downright dangerous’.

Another was on his feet in the European Parliament echoing the sentiments, conveniently ignoring the fact that Australia, after years of drought, was experiencing the hottest temperatures on record with consequences of which we are now all aware.

UKIP MEPs have by far the worst record of supporting EU measures to improve the environment. They hate to acknowledge that pollution pays no respect to national boundaries, which is why most people recognise that to protect the environment we need action at a European level.

They detest the fact that, for all its failings, the EU has led the world in developing strategies to combat climate change.

What do these involve? Obvious steps like improving energy efficiency, cutting our waste, developing new technologies to reduce the coal we burn in power stations and the oil that fuels our cars.

Most will regard these measures as plain good sense, helping us make better use of the Earth’s finite resources and reducing our dependency on foreign sources of energy.

With the European Elections less than four months away it is time that UKIP spelled out its loathing of the environmental measures agreed at EU level to improve our air and water, to ensure the safety of chemicals, to promote recycling and to combat global warming.

I for one will be only too delighted to press the case for more action to protect our environment for future generations.

CHRIS DAVIES

Liberal Democrat MEP, North West

I thank him for his kind words about my past, although he maybe doesn’t realise my knowledge about Cockermouth and my feelings towards it are rooted in the fact I was born and have spent, apart from six years public service elsewhere, all my life in the town.

Where, as he suggests, have I claimed extensive knowledge of the issues of sharing of council services and management?

If he revisits my earlier letter on the subject he will see that I acknowledged the opportunities to share services but posed questions which, as a council taxpayer, I feel entitled to ask.

He suggests I am being impudent in questioning the structure of the council; a structure that I believe fails to deliver democracy. Perhaps he feels that contrary views are not acceptable?

He claims I am deceiving readers by claiming the council cabinet is not listening. Does he make the same claim against his council alliance colleagues who, as reported in the Times & Star of January 23, felt excluded by lack of consultation or information?

Does he make the same claim against the opposition Labour group who, it appears, feel equally excluded from the decision-making process?

Mr Gerrard simply reinforces the arrogance of the council executive and demonstrates the contempt he holds for anyone who dares question their actions or holds a different opinion.

Perhaps he would care to reflect that the thoughts and aspirations of the executive are neither well articulated nor appear universally held, and that they lose the respect of so many because of their haughty attitude towards colleagues and council taxpayers alike.

Thomas Jefferson said “information is the currency of democracy”, and while this executive fails to engage in an open, transparent and respectful dialogue, Allerdale is on the verge of democratic bankruptcy.

ASHLEY TIFFEN

Sunscales Avenue

Cockermouth

Do they want a Workington clinging to the worst attitudes, values, traditions and buildings of the 19th century, as offered by town councillors Bracken and Robertson and the rest of the Save Our Cloffocks brigade?

Or do they want a Workington that has cast off its downtrodden and unruly image and is attracting visitors and employers by being modern and vibrant and embracing the best of the 21st century, indeed a town to be proud of, as offered by Allerdale council?

ROBERT COON

Cypress Way

Penrith

Let’s say congratulations for saving council taxpayers’ money by deciding to stop providing free poop scoop bags.

But then (jaw drops) what on earth made them decide to do it in the first place?

Suitable bags aren’t expensive for dog owners to buy; about £10 per year should cover it.

Using the same principle, how about this? If you park on a car park without a ticket you are liable to be fined. Your options are to buy yourself a ticket or go to an Allerdale office and collect, at taxpayers’ expense, a free ticket. It wouldn’t happen!

On the subject of parking, may I make a suggestion that could avoid the need to raise fees on local car parks?

That is to start charging on existing council (that means taxpayer) owned car parks that are free at the moment.

The one next to Allerdale House for a start. Is there any reason why council staff should park for free when everyone else is going to have to pay even more?

Another money-saving idea would be to gradually reduce the council contribution to pensions, which according to recent reports is up to 25 per cent of council tax bills. Most other business pension schemes have changed as the economy has, meaning people either contribute more themselves or they end up with a reduced pension.

I would suggest a two to three per cent reduction each year over a four or five-year period, freeing up additional revenue without the need to raise council taxes, reducing the burden on taxpayers and giving employees a gradual adjustment.

ANDREW PAYNE

Devonshire Street

Workington

Santa himself asked me to especially thank Greggains of Maryport for safe storage of his sleigh, Maryport News for sweets and Ron Davidson for responding to our SOS in the Times & Star and his freely-given time working on Rudolph.

We would like to express our gratitude to all whose efforts helped the annual collections run smoothly, especially Tablers, their families and both Thomas Armstrong Ltd and Sellafield Ltd transport department for their invaluable assistance with logistics.

All the money raised – over £1,800 – was placed in our Community Service Fund, from which donations are made to local causes. Correspondence requesting assistance should be addressed to Maryport Round Table, c/o The Waverley Hotel, Curzon Street, Maryport.

It was our pleasure to bring a little Christmas spirit to the Maryport area in such trying times; we were overwhelmed by the generous response.

I would also like to extend an invitation to enthusiastic, community-minded young men of Maryport to come and see what a great time Maryport Round Table has to offer, as our five new members have found.

MARK DAWSON

Maryport Round Table

Waverley Hotel

Curzon Street

Maryport

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