Broken promises

WE all thought Brexit was done. But when do we see the benefits?

What are the advantages for rural North Yorkshire? We see that the government is hastily running around like a headless chicken trying to strike up trade deals around the world.

That’s good, I hear you say. But is there anything good for the UK in these trade deals?

The New Zealand one certainly isn’t going to benefit our farmers – New Zealand meat will be able to be imported into the UK without any tariffs.

This is worrying for UK producers of lamb and beef. The deal will boost the New Zealand economy but will have negligible benefits for our farmers who could be out-priced. This is crucial in North Yorkshire with its vast swathes of agricultural land.

And another thing that was promised before Brexit got done was that the government would maintain or exceed EU standards on water quality. Because we left the EU we are having trouble obtaining the chemicals needed to treat raw sewage. This problem is being compounded by an acute shortage of HGV drivers in the UK.

The government told wastewater treatment centres in England that they would be allowed to discharge waste which had not been fully treated if this became necessary. They backtracked a little after an impressive show of people power on Twitter where Conservative MPs were named and shamed after having voted to allow the water companies to do this in England.

Even the famous comic poet Pam Ayres got in on the act – penning an ode to the dumping of sewage in our rivers.

This is not the brave new Britain that we were promised in which poorer areas would be levelled up by the Tories and standards would be improved. But despite the optimistic headlines, the rise in the minimum wage will be wiped out by the increase in National Insurance and removal of the Universal Credit £20 pandemic payment.

I don’t know about you, but if Brexit was meant to give us value for money and a better future, I want my money back.

Helen M Smith, Ripon.

Brexit consequences

PERHAPS those who voted in Northern Ireland and Scotland would dispute K Mungham’s comment regarding the Brexit vote “Brexit puzzle” (D&S Times letters, Oct 22).

It has resulted in the strengthening of calls for independence in Scotland and a seemingly insurmountable political problem in Northern Ireland.

We can only hope the promised benefits from leaving the EU can eventually be felt in all areas of the United Kingdom whether they voted to stay or leave.

Sue Barton, Sessay, Thirsk.

Sewage spills

LAST year there were 403,171 raw sewage spills into English rivers and only 22 Conservative MPs voted in the recent Environment Bill to bring further legal pressure on water companies to engage with and ameliorate this situation.

Regrettably, my own MP, Rishi Sunak, was not amongst this group. Indeed, the Treasury’s view (and no doubt his own) was that an obligation on water companies to upgrade their infrastructure to deal with this problem would be too expensive.

In the meantime it’s interesting to note that the shareholders of water companies have enjoyed dividends amounting to billions of pounds.

Another case of private wealth and public squalor, or more succinctly, people generally being left in the crap.

Gus Pennington, Stokesley.

Local dialect

IN reply to Sarah Walker’s Countryman’s Daughter column regarding use of the word “bramah” (D&S Times, Oct 22), I remember using the term “It’s a bramah” in the mid to late 1940s, (when I was aged between five and ten years old).

I probably picked it up from a local farmer as my Dad used to collect stock from farms in his trailer, to take to Darlington Mart or abattoir, I think in about a 30 mile radius of our Springfield farm in Darlington.

We also took our sows to be serviced at a local farm or we took our bull to farms to do the same to cows.

My Dad’s first car was a Morris with a thermometer gauge on the radiator and his second was Vauxhall with a fluted bonnet and front opening doors (I think it was a VX14) which is used by James Herriot in the series now being shown.

Brian Wastell, Stockton.

Wasted journeys

IT seems that all we are hearing about on the news most of the time is about climate change – how we all must fit new expensive heating systems, buy new expensive electric cars that I suspect most people cannot afford either of.

So I was most surprised that our illustrious government ministers attended the G20 conference in Rome and then moved to COP26 in Glasgow with apparently representatives from 120 countries

Can anybody give figures for the carbon footprint for all this travel, including the flights, and specialist security vehicles.

It seems to say "don't do as we do but do as we say". Whatever happened to video conferencing?

CP Atkinson, Great Ayton.

Flat earth

IN his letter “Cancel Culture”(D&S Times letters, Oct 15) Alastair PG Welsh perpetuates the myth that before Portuguese mariners “circumnavigated the Earth in 1522, there was a scientific (and political) consensus that the earth was flat".

In fact, ever since Aristotle in the Classical period of Ancient Greece, followed by the famous earth-measurement experiments of Eratosthenes around 245 BC, the vast majority of scholars, ranging from the Venerable Bede (673–735 AD), through to, for example, Roger Bacon and Thomas Aquinas in the 13th Century, have accepted the sphericity of the Earth as clearly established fact.

As the late Professor Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard University (eminent palaeontologist, evolutionary biologist and science historian) has written; contrary to the commonly held myth, there was never a period of “Flat Earth belief” in the so-called “Dark Ages” (a misnomer, if ever there was one!) or in medieval times.

All this leads to the obvious question of the origin of the myth. In 1837 William Whewell pointed out that one writer in the 3rd/4th and another in the 6th Century had believed in a flat Earth, the first for spurious antipodean ideas of upside-down people, rain falling upwards, crops growing downwards, etc., while the second suggested that the Earth must be a flat floor, in order to support the arch of heaven.

Whewell indicated, mistakenly, that this showed evidence of a widespread medieval belief in a flat Earth and unfortunately, a number of historians, following on, blindly copied this false analysis. The matter was further exacerbated by publications in the 19th Century stirring up heated debate in the incendiary area at that time of science versus religion and indeed within different Christian beliefs. Bearing that in mind, it is interesting to note that a survey of Victorian textbooks shows that before 1870 very few mention the myth of a flat Earth in medieval times and earlier, but after 1880 most do so.

And now, back to re-reading Sir Terry Pratchett’s superb “Discworld” novels, where the world is supported by four giant elephants standing on the carapace of a gigantic turtle swimming slowly through space.

Michael Waldman, Worton, Leyburn.

Protecting birds

ONCE again, North Yorkshire is at the top of the latest RSPB bird crime report with the highest number of raptor persecution incidents, “County is worst in UK for bird crime” (D&S Times, Oct 29).

Birds of prey are protected by law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 yet they are consistently targeted, usually in connection with grouse moor management.

Whatever one’s views on grouse shooting, it is disgusting that these beautiful birds are killed for what is a hobby for some, a job for others and a massive money-making exercise for a privileged few. It is illegal and unnecessary.

The law exists to protect these birds but for effective enforcement to happen, political will is required and the Government needs to provide adequate resources.

The current system is not working and it needs to change.

Margaret Lowndes, Askrigg, Leyburn.

Climate targets

BORIS JOHNSON'S latest barmy suggestion that we all should dispense with our gas boilers and replace them with a heat pump by 2050 is yet another example of him losing the plot.

A leading article in a national newspaper on October 15 stated that heat pump installation costs for a typical three bedroom home are £11,000, and over ten tears could save a total of £2,725 in gas, ie a 40-year payback period.

However, it did not consider the running costs for electricity to run the fans and compressor which would be in the order of 70 per cent of the savings in the cost of gas saved.

Furthermore, the comments on fossil fuels by Richard Baker and RD Hildyard (D&S Times letters, Oct 6) that Britain could survive and thrive without fossil fuels are naive beyond belief. To suggest this is at best a fantasy.

Industry, eg steel, chemicals, brick, glass, plastics, paper, food et al are responsible for 70 per cent of Britain's energy consumption which will never be satisfied with windmills and solar panels. Recently we have had leaders of steel, chemicals, glass and process industries declare they face closure due to sudden increase in energy costs.

The earth's climate has been constantly changing for billions of years without the help of man. The last ice age in Britain was about 11,700 years ago where Britain became detached from the European land mass. There have been eleven different ice ages during the last 4.6 billion years when, typically, 30 per cent of the world was covered in ice. Earth's climate constantly alternates between ice ages and green house periods.

I could go on and on with examples of nature’s effect on climate change but there is only one person who controls the planet's climate – Mother Nature with the help of the earth's elliptical orbit and changing angle of axis around the sun.

Sure we could not continue as we did up to the Sixties when every house had a coal burning fire and we cannot continue to choke our towns and cities with petrol and diesel fumes so mankind has a bit to play.

Finally, don't pin your hopes on the COP26 conference in Glasgow to achieve anything for climate change. Without the full cooperation of China, Russia (both of whom are not attending), India, USA and Brazil (the main polluters on the planet) the conference will be hot air.

Trevor Nicholson, Leeming.