REGARDING West Cumbria’s potential new coal mine, you printed two articles (Times & Star, page 22, February 18) two articles. In the top one were quoted ten and a half column inches of various people, including James Hansen, an ex-NASA scientist, who I bet knows a lot about iron and steelmaking, arguing that the new mine would somehow increase global warming, and only one column inch from our local people who support the proposal – the top article finishes by the antis telling us that by 2035 all steel (they keep saying steel when they mean iron) would be made in arc furnaces using hydrogen.

In the lower article there were approximately nine column inches of general hopes and aspirations about a better future and half a column inch about our two local people raising concerns about the U-turn.

Coal – coking coal – after it is turned into metallurgical coke in a coke oven is used in a blast furnace to make iron which can be processed later in another plant to make steel. The remaining British blast furnaces – and all the other blast furnaces in the world, need coke produced from coking coal – Britain now imports what it needs from various places across the world – the new plant – if (hopefully) it ever is built, will be able to supply into a world market, no extra pollution or will be produced, indeed, we shall not need to import coke or coking coal.

The idea that iron can be made in an arc furnace is indeed a technical possibility – there was one plant in Scandinavia in the 1980s – I have a friend who visited the place – they put coke into the furnace along with the iron ore. The electricity was produced by a hydro plant.

A new hydroelectric plant was described in the Daily Telegraph only about a fortnight ago. It uses an electric arc furnace and hydrogen, produced by electrolysis is injected as the reducing agent. The plant is at Lulea, Sweden.

The price of electricity is trivial. The Lulea river driving the generators is a colossal size.

Why, oh, why does the popular press provide acres of paper for the pie in the sky ideas of enthusiasts who think they are the only people who want to save the world. My background is 1958-1965, Swinden Laboratories, Rotherham, part of United Steels. 1965-1985 Distington Eng. Co and Workington Iron & Steel Co.


Mosser, Cockermouth

Harness the sea

THE time to extract coal from West Cumbria was the 1980s when the renewable option was not so advanced, but a vindictive Thatcher government closed the pits down.

When it comes to playing politics with coal, nobody does it better than the Tories’ Mark Jenkinson. As for Trudy Harrison’s comments about ‘cloud cuckoo land’ to smear protesters, she does not seem to realise that she herself is in that foggy ether.

The question for Mrs Harrison is: would she be happy for a child of hers to go down the mine?

Cumbria has been made dependent for jobs to excuse controversial industries exploiting the situation. The result is a nuclear waste mountain that is a national threat and a national disgrace – and the idiots want to produce more.

These combined holes planned for coal, to be followed no doubt by plutonium, will be a threat for future generations for nigh on an eternity.

That’s the big picture, not the twee little parochial deception peddled by politicians and nuclear nuts. Give my regards to the cuckoo, Trudy.

The saner answer to our energy problems lies in tidal barrages where the power of water is used, not wasted. No nation has a better understanding of the sea than our proud island. So what the hell is going on up here? That’s where the jobs should be. Positive, constructive jobs.



Ralph’s good life

During May/June 2009, the Times & Star ran advertisements for an animal charity in which various cats and dogs looking to be re-homed featured along with their names and photographs. Amongst these photographs was “Little John”, a six-week-old Springer Spaniel.

My family and I were so very very fortunate to be chosen to be the new permanent family for Little John.

The day on which I collected him from the house where he was temporarily living at Dearham, I was given details of his earliest days.

A pet shop was selling puppy-farmed Springer Spaniels and a lady went to buy one. She was offered a choice of two puppies and chose the bigger of the two. But once home she couldn’t forget the tiny little chap she’d left at the shop. She couldn’t manage to give a home to both puppies and due to being tormented at the thought of the little chap she’d left facing goodness knows what kind of future, she returned to the shop and at great expense bought him. She then handed him over to the animal charity on the condition that they found him a perfect home.

Little John is now called Ralph, he’s had a wonderful life and has brought us immeasurable happiness. He’s an absolute star.

But only a few days ago the vet gave us some dreadful news. Ralph kept falling over, so his “mummy” Judy took him to the vet where he was diagnosed with an incurable neurological problem.

He’s still an exceedingly happy little fellow and is healthy in all other ways, so we’ll cope. There’s nothing Judy wouldn’t do for Ralph.

We’ve always had Ralph’s kind saviour in our hearts and we’re sure she’d like to know what happened to the little puppy she saved. So if she or anyone who knows her reads this letter, we’d love for you to get in touch via the Times & Star, so we can personally thank you for your kindness. We are so grateful to you.



Grey day

I WAS dismayed to see the photo last week as being classed as one of the best views in west Cumbria. The grey squirrel is a threat to our native reds and to appear to promote it is very detrimental to the efforts being made to protect our native species.

Roger Armstrong should have reported the sighting of this to Red Alert or another conservation charity helping the endangered red.


By email

Seasonal variation

A MYRIAD of experts give their analysis every day of the unfolding Covid situation. But it baffles me how few make reference to what appears to be the main factor in the number of cases and deaths – that is the warmer weather of each summer.

If you look at the graphs for almost every European nation and how it has suffered, the graphs all share one common factor. They almost all flatline through the summer months.

So when politicians and ‘experts’ make claims that the declines have been “Thanks to the lockdowns” or “Thanks to the rollout of vaccines” I think these claims should be tempered.

The common sense approach would be to state that these factors may have helped but Covid, like all respiratory infections, declines dramatically in the summer as people are outdoors and in more ventilated spaces and also get more vitamin D.

Lockdowns could well be a minor extra factor in this bigger picture and one that also causes huge damage to jobs and children’s education.