TWO separate developers have submitted outline planning permission to build 1,520 homes in the rural Low Coniscliffe area of Darlington. Both will be located on prime arable fields.

It is estimated that this will increase the present population of the parish, which stands at approximately 700, by a further 4,000, representing a population increase of about 550 per cent.

These outline applications give Darlington Borough Council an opportunity to ensure that the proposed developments achieve the highest possible standards of environmental and social sustainability, helping to meet international targets in combating climate change.

The amenities within the parish of Low Coniscliffe and Merrybent currently consist of two post boxes, four bus shelters and a small pub.

To achieve sustainability will require detailed master-planning and agreements between the Darlington Borough Council planning authority and developers (I believe these are called Section106 agreements) requiring a pharmacy, GP surgery, mini supermarkets, allotments, community centres with integrated services, selection of small shops, cycle ways, sports pitches with facilities, woodland areas, green spaces, sound proof fencing, schools, new roads to cope with traffic issues, affordable housing, walking routes, early years play areas, green areas to adjoin the Baydale Beck, a public transport network, and solar roof panels to provide low carbon energy.

I await with interest the outcome from the planning authority and developers to viewing the finalised master plan and detailed sustainable agreements.

Name supplied, Low Coniscliffe.

Mural support

REGARDING the mural painted on the gable end of York House in Richmond of a sheep dog and a flock of sheep “Unauthorised mural can stay amid wave of support” (D&S Times, March 4).

It is a pleasure to look at, it enhances the town and is something to look at as we come into town.

There was a different one there up until recently – a different scene – and no-one objected about that one, or the bus shelter near the traffic lights on the road leading out of town, towards the trading estate. The York House one is in keeping with the countryside where there’s plenty of sheep and lambs and we often see sheep dogs.

The way the world is now we all need something to lift our spirits instead of the nit picking that seems to be going on.

Margaret Emmerson, Richmond.

Conservation area

RESIDENTS – including me – of Ovington are being asked whether the village should become a conservation area. There has been no mention of this in the D&S Times.

There is interesting information on Durham County Council’s website, including the history of the village and many of its houses. There is also an online form/questionnaire to ascertain our views.

I voted against and in one of the boxes where you could write a comment I said: “Conservation = no change. And change is just what’s now needed with humanity under threat from climate change. Last thing we want is another bureaucratic layer stalling, for example, installing roof solar panels or putting up housing for heat pumps.

“Charming and quaint the past is, but being stuck in it is to defy progress and modern life today. I mean, needing planning permission for a satellite dish? Come on. Should the status be granted, will it be retrospective, meaning we all will have to remove our chimney-top TV aerials?”

Tim Sinclair, Ovington, Richmond.

School deficits

THE MP for Thirsk and Malton, Kevin Hollinrake, has recently shared the news that North Yorkshire has been named as an Education Investment Area in his government’s plan to level up the north.

I suppose that any investment in the education of our young people is good news. It is important though to understand that Education Investment Area status has been given to North Yorkshire because it is one of “55 cold spots of the country where school outcomes are the weakest”.

The government’s levelling up plan suggests that the solution will be to use the funding awarded to give even more support to academy trusts (already 35.4 per cent of schools are academy trusts in Thirsk and Malton constituency), increase the number of free schools (sixth forms) and offer retention payments to keep good teachers in their posts. I’m not convinced that this will do the trick.

This plan does nothing to address the real issues of persistent underfunding since 2010.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has established that; “The cuts to education spending over the last decade are effectively without precedent in post-war UK.”

In March 2021, 22 North Yorkshire schools had accumulated deficits totalling £7.5m. The average primary school deficit is £57,000 and the average secondary school deficit is £596,000.

Three of the 22 schools have converted to academy status or closed since March 2021. Going forward, 67 per cent of North Yorkshire County Council maintained schools are projecting an in-year deficit in 2021/22 and by 2023/24 (forecast) this will mean 79 schools will be in deficit. Today after 11 years of Mr Hollinrake’s government children across North Yorkshire and in Thirsk and Malton are not able to access the quality of education they deserve.

Will being an Education Investment Area make up for a decade of underfunding by this government? I suggest that we need real change rather than vague promises before even more of our children and young people are unfairly disadvantaged through no fault of their own.

Graham Scott, Hunmanby, Filey.

Care gratitude

I WOULD like to express my gratitude for the recent care I have had from the NHS.

Due to a car accident resulting in a broken ankle, I spent four days in the Friarage, then six weeks in respite care at Orchid House, Thirsk.

The care I received in both was exemplary and Orchid House had the bonus of delicious lunches from The Bistro.

Now that I am at home, I have wonderful North Yorkshire County Council reablement carers who, just like the many carers I have met since my accident, really seem to care.

The system wouldn’t work without good management from above and I count myself very lucky to have experienced such efficiency. Thank you to everybody.

Anita Haisley, Thirsk.

Generous donations

RICHMOND Rotary would like to thank the people of Richmond and visitors to the town for their fantastic response to our appeal for help for Ukrainian refugees last Saturday in the Market Place.

I have helped at many such collections over the years but this time there were more notes than coins – something I have never experienced.

We raised more than £4,000 on the day and pledges and donations are still coming in so the total is heading towards £5,000.

After gift aid, this will increase to more than £6,000. The bulk of the money will be distributed to the DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee) who support charities already active in refugee relief in countries neighbouring Ukraine. The government has promised to match fund the first £20m donated to the DEC so the value of our gift should double again.

Thanks again for your generosity.

Ian Armstrong, Community Chair, Richmond Rotary Club.

Ukraine crisis

I’VE heard it argued that the West should send its military into Ukraine. This would be a dire mistake.

The major reason that the Cold War never became a hot (nuclear) war is that the nuclear powers always avoided engaging each other directly. It nearly happened during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 but, luckily, the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had the good sense to back down, thus avoiding nuclear catastrophe.

If NATO, led by the USA, put troops into Ukraine, Vladimir Putin, rather than face defeat, could use so-called tactical nuclear weapons to redress the balance. Then, almost certainly, NATO would respond in kind. Of course, such a war would not be limited to Ukraine and nuclear catastrophe would ensue. The northern hemisphere would never be the same again.

The right policy is the present strategy: send all the aid we can to Ukraine and employ the severest sanctions, barring direct military confrontation, against Russia.

Meanwhile every NATO member must start paying their fair share towards the defence of Europe, so that any further military encroachment by Russia can be effectively deterred.

Cllr Steve Kay, Moorsholm.

Taking a stand

THE Russian invasion of Ukraine was totally unjustified and we simply cannot stand by and watch a whole country be reduced to rubble and ruin, its population displaced, and countless lives destroyed.

Ukraine posed no threat to Russia and the NATO alliance is purely for mutual defence.

For evil to succeed all that is necessary is for good men to stand by and do nothing and the recent shelling of a nuclear power station by Russian forces is a threat to all of Europe not only NATO countries.

Military intervention and a no-fly zone, undesirable as that may be, seems the only deterrent to Vladimir Putin’s madness and his desire to wipe Ukraine off the map.

The only glimmer of hope in this whole sorry affair is the widespread response to aid and accommodate thousands of refugees who have left and lost everything behind.

Sanctions may be effective in the long term but will not stop the indiscriminate shelling and gratuitous destruction taking place now.

This should not be happening in the 21st Century and a stand must be taken for the sake of humanity and a country besieged.

P Holmes. Barnard Castle.

More solar energy

IN the light of the increasing energy costs and the ongoing Russian invasion/war in Ukraine where I have to commend and acknowledge the courage of the Ukrainian people by standing up to Vladimir Putin, the government should adjust the energy saving schemes to subsidise the installation of solar panels for home owners as the current set-up just creates a merry go round of increasing energy costs. Once people have reduced their energy consumption in a household, this effectively reduces the profit to the energy company and subsequent dividend payouts for the shareholders. So the energy companies increase their prices to keep their shareholders happy at the cost of the homeowners/ industrial users through increased prices.

Money has been wasted on the introduction of smart meters where the first generation meters don’t work with the second generation meters, and now there is an issue where not all properties are suitable for these. Solar panel energy can be stored or fed back into the grid thereby making effective use of the energy and technology. This approach will make a significant contribution to helping the climate and reduce reliance on fossil fuels wherever they may come from.

Colin Telfer, Darlington.

Clock’s ticking

THE doomsday clock is set once per year by a team of academics using science, mathematics, philosophy and psychology to show how close mankind is to oblivion.

The principal drivers of the clock’s pointer are climate change and nuclear weapons. When the pointer gets to midnight the world will end, for man at least. I do not think the team will bother to count down the last few seconds. There are several countries which have nuclear weapons but only Russia and the US are big players, although the UK is significant in that it is bursting for a fight.

The Ukraine conflict is horrible but put in context it is no more horrible than Afghanistan, Yemen, Ethiopia, DR Congo and others. Ukraine is significant for two reasons.

Both Ukraine and Belarus have expressed a wish to re-acquire nuclear weapons and the Western world en masse has sided with the US against Russia. A completely artificial argument has created the Ukraine conflict and it has definitely swung the pointer.

When nuclear weapons cease to exist the clock will go back several minutes and the world can get together to realistically tackle climate change.

Chris Pattison, Richmond.

Short trips

REGARDING parking in Northallerton for locals to “pop in for a few quick purchases and out again”, I don’t think your correspondents have yet grasped both climate change and lack of exercise. We must all limit our car use and exercise more. Plan ahead, and if possible, walk or cycle.

Leslie Kinsman, Leyburn.