In these tranquil times when the December/January storms have missed Cumbria for the second year, we may breathe a sigh of relief.

Perhaps it is an appropriate moment to reflect on the flooding on the Derwent river system which these climate change storms are increasingly creating. If we wish to stop the flooding of central Cockermouth then man-made flood control systems have got to be created.

I therefore draw your attention to Gale Fell, more than 1000ft above Crummock and Ennerdale Water. The topography of its flatfulness is worthy of consideration.

The flooding on the Derwent river has been controlled by the Thirlmere dam. Improvements could be made both Bassenthwaite and Derwentwater lakes. However, let us leave those aside.

The river Cocker is the fastest-rising river in the British Isles. To contain its increasingly destructive force in the centre of Cockermouth, the best solution may be to construct a man-made lake on top of Gale Fell to store electric power, using the lakes below as a reservoir. There would be numerous advantages to this policy for the people of Cockermouth. It would give the ability to produce electricity when we need it and to store it when we did not. In a time of a flooding situation we could discharge the water of Crummock Water via the man-made Gale reservoir into Buttermere and prevent it from passing down the River Cocker and flooding Cockermouth. This could be a saviour strategy.

For the members of the Friends of the Lake District, may I rush to reassure you the people of Cockermouth do not vote for politicians who want a zero-carbon economy so there is no reason to splutter your Earl Grey tea on the pages of your sacred Times & Star in anticipation that it is actually going to happen.



Keep to the rules

Dave Siddall (Times & Star letters, February 25) misses the point about efficacy of ‘lockdowns’ and vaccinations on reducing the spread of Covid-19.

He correctly notes that respiratory infections spread more slowly in the warmer months when people are outdoors more and windows are left open for ventilation, but he rather skates over the point of restrictions which are designed to reduce contact between people in enclosed indoor spaces.

To describe the effect of these restrictions, and indeed of the vaccination programme, as a ‘minor extra factor’ is misleading and actually quite dangerous if it encourages people to think that breaking the rules on social distancing, or declining to be vaccinated, will not put them or others at much risk.

I urge people to listen to the scientists and epidemiologists, not the voices of unqualified sceptics. Keep to the rules. Get vaccinated.



Iron’s in the fire

I was very pleased to read J M Proctor’s letter in last week’s Times & Star.

As an old iron/steel/and coking man I am constantly annoyed at the anti coalmine lobby persistently referring to coal being used for steel production, whereas – as Mr Proctor points out – it is used to produce iron. If they cannot get the first basic fact correct all subsequent arguments of this lobby should also be in doubt.

Additionally, whilst Mr Thwaites’ comment promoting tidal barrage power is all very laudable, I do not know what the power outputs or build cost for any such units would be. Perhaps he can enlighten us, and please in megawatts (not the number of homes supplied with electricity) as all traditional power stations are rated in this manner. Current large units are 1300 megawatts, with some of the smaller units wading in at 50-150 megawatts.



Must do better

If I say I am proud of my town and yet I drop litter, allow dog fouling or fly-tip, I’m only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

So come on (insert name of your own town here)! Let’s observe Lent, or the spring cleaning season if you prefer, by doing better!



Ten years on from Fukushima

TEN years ago, between Thursday March 11 and Saturday March 13 2011, the meltdown of three cores in nuclear reactors at Fukushima in Japan caused a massive and ongoing leak of dangerous radioactive materials (radionuclides), including long-lived caesium.

More than 100,000 people were evacuated from within a 30km radius, and ten years later they are still unable to return safely to their homes.

The nuclear disaster at Fukushima, like earlier events at Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Windscale, provides a salutary lesson at a time when proponents of nuclear power are intent on persuading us to accept nonsensical schemes for very expensive, unproven and potentially very dangerous projects such as an experimental nuclear fusion power plant at Moorside in Copeland.

We are, of course, frequently told that new nuclear power schemes will be safer than those of the past, just as we were told by US Atomic Energy Commission chairman Lewis Strauss 67 years ago that nuclear power would soon be providing electricity “too cheap to meter”. What we are not told about is the large quantities of extremely dangerous radioactive waste that is an inevitable by-product of nuclear power. Nor are we told that the real motivation for nuclear power lies in the fact that it provides ingredients for the nuclear weapons systems that threaten our very existence.

Indeed, as expert evidence given to MPs on the Business Select Committee in 2019 clearly demonstrated, our energy bills are being used not only to subsidise unnecessarily expensive nuclear power, but also to subsidise nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

We need to develop genuinely renewable and genuinely low-carbon sources of energy, like wind and solar and to stop squandering our scarce resources on subsidising danger and destruction.


On behalf of Cumbria and Lancashire CND