North/south divide

DURING my frequent visits into north east London via the M11 in order to visit my daughter and other friends remaining in the Home Counties from which I departed in 1991, it has crossed my mind that many travellers heading for Stanstead Airport have been delayed where the A14 merges into the southbound dual carriageway of the A1 prior to the start of the M11.

Vast areas of fields on one’s right and left are now being swallowed up by the North Cambridge ring road. The scale of this development and the achievement of its ultimate aim ie to link Cambridge and Oxford by road, rail and additionally a new canal from Wolverton, Milton Keynes to the Great Ouse in Bedford has been given approval at a cost of £9bn.

It is obscene that hideous examples of the wisdom of our local planners starved of cash are creating a house-lined ring road around the northern rim of Northallerton only to create even more chaos around what will be the A19 link.

Already I have driven south on the A5 below Daventry and witness huge roadworks enabling Weedon to be by-passed – obviously the route of the East to West passage of the Cambridge to Oxford link. Additionally north Dunstable has a new link from the A5 to the M1.

It is astounding that we are expected to sit patiently at the level crossing in Northallerton when forward planning and capital expenditure is being poured into areas south of the Watford Gap.

Ken Walsh, Tunstall, Richmond

Global warming

SOME so-called experts allege that birds migrate in winter, but this is not true because I saw a robin in my garden in January.

This is the kind of logic used by climate deniers such as Joseph Lambert (D&S Times letters, Sept 21). They begin from their blithe conviction that there’s not much wrong with the weather and then pluck out an isolated fact which seems to support this: a few seasons ago, ice at the North Pole actually increased.

Never mind events at the North Pole before or since, or in Greenland, or in Antarctica. Never mind the thousand other indicators that climate change is taking place at an alarming speed: the ice got thicker in one region at one time, therefore the whole thing's a myth. Gotcha! Just like my January robin proves that birds don’t migrate.

It will not impress Mr Lambert that for an overwhelming majority of the world’s scientists there is nothing to discuss other than how quickly we can check the annual rise in global temperatures – if indeed we have not already left it too late, as some of the more pessimistic analysis claims. Mr Lambert modestly declines to tell us which university awarded him the professorship he must surely have to feel he can take on the consensus among informed researchers.

Sarcasm aside, there is a whole industry devoted to spreading fake news about climate change. Hopefully D&S Times readers will not be taken in, realising that Britain is a rather small country whose weather reveals little about the fact of global overheating (“warming” is too cosy a word.) Climate change is among the most urgent crises facing our planet, and anyone who denies this is talking lethal nonsense.

Richard Bradshaw, Hutton Rudby

Not scaremongering

SOMETIMES, whilst reading the pages of letters in our local and excellent newspaper, one nods in approval with the sentiments expressed. At other times, there are tuts of disapproval.

However, this week a letter made me sigh deeply. Joseph Lambert (D&S Times letters, Sept 21) wrote about how much he enjoyed this year's long, hot summer.

He recalled his admirable form tutor trying to set an example by cycling to school to help – in his own small way – to save the environment. How perceptive and well-informed this teacher must have been to have known the damage man-made pollution was doing to the atmosphere and our health.

On the same day, after thoroughly reading my D&S Times, I read an informative article in the i newspaper about Professor Ed Hawkins. He has made a study of rainfall and temperature going back to 1883. He hopes the graphics he has constructed following this scientific study can be used to show "the reality of climate change".

It was enlightening to read how he had gathered his information from different parts of Britain to reveal the evidence of long-term change; the follow-up comment by the paper's science editor stated: "Climate change is already here."

I thought of Mr Lambert enjoying the recent hot weather. What did he think about storms Ali and Bronagh? However, it is not one hot summer or a severe storm; it is the pattern that has been created over time that indicates climate change.

Then on Saturday, in The Times – I do like my papers – I came upon an excellent interview with Sir David Attenborough. How strange that, on consecutive days, these climate change articles caught my eye.

Sir David, said that although he had been "personally convinced for several years of the truth of global warming," he did not say anything in public until he was sure of the scientific facts. Now, he says the long-term trends show "the balance of evidence is incontrovertible."

So, I am glad Mr Lambert enjoyed the hazy days of summer. I sighed when I read his letter because his tutor was right and his pupil did not understand. The media is right to highlight the scientific evidence. Those two excellent newspapers were not scaremongering, but reporting the facts.

The pictures of plastic waste wrapped around a beautiful sea turtle made the world wake up to the horrors of plastic pollution. A thin starving polar bear struggling to survive on melting ice showed us how we have cruelly neglected our world by ignoring climate change.

The evidence given by the media is helping us all to recognise that we are the ones to blame. We can put it right. I hope we are not too late.

Terence Fleming, Guisborough

Green invite

THE letter from A. Reid (D&S Times, Sept 21), criticises John Yorke’s letter (D&S Times, Sept 14) and the Green Party.

Mr Reid suggests that fracking would be beneficial to a locality and does not generate any proved risks. This is far from the case with evidence from USA of a large number of hazards including air pollution, leakage of methane adding to Global Warming, poisoning large quantities of water with bactericides and earth movements.

A Government report (Potential Air Quality Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction in the UK, 2018) on the air hazards was published in July, just after Parliament went on holiday. Fossil fuels are not going to be used for much longer, burning coal and wood is already disappearing in Britain. Fossil fuels poison our air and are producing extreme weather through global warming.

My home uses no fossil fuels. I have solar electricity, solar water heating, a heat pump and purchase some electricity from Good Energy (only supplies green sources of electricity). I earn more from energy generation than I have to pay Good Energy.

We do have poor public transport in this area because of a lack of investment and the ready availability of cars for many people. This situation is changing with electric powered vehicles.

The Green Party is leading the way in enlightening the public and other political parties it is not fair to say it “promulgates scare stories”. A. Reid may be interested in coming along to the Green Party meetings that are held on the first Wednesday of the month at 7.30 pm at the Buck Inn, Newbiggin, Richmond and being enlightened. J. Lambert could also be interested following his letter on global warming.

Michael Chaloner, Aiskew, secretary to Richmond Green Party

No place to park

WHILE it was very enjoyable to read about the walk to Roseberry Topping and Captain Cook’s monument (D&S Times, Sept 14), the writer was wrong to say Great Ayton was the place to park.

The cars that are left all day in front of the shops cause a great nuisance for shoppers.

The High Street needs the same treatment as Stokesley ie two hours of parking in marked off places in front of the shops.

There is a car park provided at Gribdale for the walkers.

Audrey Warren, Great Ayton

Sovereignty debate

HOWARD WINSTON’S letter about Brexit (D&S Times, September 21) starts with the assertion "Being a great believer in democracy and sovereignty, I am a Brexit supporter".

I must challenge the implication that people who voted for Remain are against democracy. In fact, is anyone in this country not a great believer in democracy? If anyone is, they are unlikely to say so. As an argument for Brexit, it is akin to saying "I have a pulse, so I voted for Brexit". I am a great believer in democracy – so much so that I think we should improve it by reforming our archaic electoral system – and I voted for Remain.

As for sovereignty, I suppose Howard Winston means that the British people – in practice, Parliament and the Government – should have control of the country’s destiny, with no concessions to any multinational organisation. What, none? What about the United Nations, NATO, the Universal Postal Union, Interpol, the International Olympic Committee, or FIFA? Or what about our special relationship with the USA, which allows them to station their armed forces in this country, and dragged us into pointless and endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But of course when Howard Winston says sovereignty he refers to European Union decisions which are binding upon the UK as well as the other 27 members. I would rather have high standards of regulation for environmental pollution, farm animal welfare, workers’ rights, and other matters, handed down from Brussels, than low standards set by our government under pressure from the NFU, CBI, the editor of the Daily Mail, and neo-liberal backbenchers. Just one example: if we have cleaner beaches than we used to have, it is because the water industry had to install waste water treatment plants to meet an EU directive. Better to have high standards from Brussels than low standards from our sovereign government.

Dave Dalton, Richmond

Parking charges

AS it is controlled by Hambleton District Council, which covers all the towns in our area, who do parking charges vary? To park in Thirsk is 50 per cent cheaper than Northallerton.

Andrew Reid, Northallerton

Mental health

RISHI SUNAK'S piece about mental health in last week’s D&S Times chimes uncomfortably with recent news reports.

The Northern Echo highlighted that squabbling between the NHS and police was causing harm and a lack of “health-based places of safety” meant that police were transporting people across the county.

The decision by Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby CCG to close the mental health wards at The Friarage Hospital doesn’t help in this regard. We campaigned against this closure at the time. The £300m extra funding that Mr Sunak mentioned was announced last year. Part of our argument was that the decision was being made without knowing how that money would be allocated.

Mr Sunak talks about the interventions in schools and colleges. Whilst this is important, North Yorkshire has one of the highest male suicide rates in the country. These are people in their 40s and 50s not students.

The Yorkshire Post also recently reported that ten per cent of North Yorkshire Police have taken time off work because of mental health issues and other emergency services were also badly affected. Police officers were having to wait for up to six months for NHS treatment.

It is about time that the government treated mental health with the same level of priority as any other illness.

Philip Knowles, chair, Richmondshire Liberal Democrats

Overseas visits

I READ with great interest the article covering record number of overseas visitors (D&S Times, Sept 14). A nice quote from Sir Gary Verity about "finest dining at world class fish restaurants in Whitby".

Clearly Sir Gary has not tried to use the park and ride when visiting Whitby out of the main school holiday period. It is rather sad that the P&R closes at either 4.44pm or 5.44pm in the October – April period, not enough time to enjoy the world class fish restaurants in the evening.

Caroline Artingstoll, Sutton under Whitestonecliffe