Solar farm

THE application to site a solar farm at Scruton village was refused by Hambleton District Council on August 8.

Whilst I am a solar farm supporter I do agree with this decision, but I am concerned about certain aspects of this matter.

First, the close proximity of a substation, in Fence Dike Lane made this land very attractive to solar farm developers as it keeps their costs to a minimum.

We very nearly lost a huge area of the best and most versatile agricultural land (Hambleton District Council's description), essential to the food security of this country.

Solar farms are indeed required to help with our energy needs but must be sited in the most appropriate areas, not on good quality food-producing land.

It was for this reason the plan was rejected as the application was contrary to Hambleton District Local Plan. The vote was nine to two to refuse permission. As it was against their Local Plan, how could two councillors vote in favour, surely it should have been unanimous?

Secondly, when the proposal was originally presented to the village, the developer stated the soil was of poor quality. This has subsequently been proven to be incorrect, and is in fact of extremely good quality, however, this only became apparent after our parish councillors asked Hambleton District Council to examine the land. How could that mistake have been made? We must ensure that mistake is not repeated anywhere else in the district.

Finally, who exactly is entitled to register a supporting or objecting comment on the planning portal? I randomly clicked on six names I did not recognise as villagers and found one lived in Sheffield, one in Manchester, and one in Teesside.

It would seem likely that people outside the local area could indeed be motivated to support solar farm developments anywhere if they believe they are a good thing – but I doubt they could know the actual details of what could have been lost, as in this case, good food-producing land.

How many of the total number of supporting comments were from people well outside the local area and how did that contribute to the apparent division of opinion in the village as reported on the front page of the D&S Times?

J McGuckin, Scruton, Northallerton.

Dumping ground

I WHOLEHEARTEDLY support Christine Redman's letter “Good riddance” regarding Leeming Bar (D&S Times letters, Aug 26).

I have been a resident in the village for more than 30 years and have witnessed many times the blatant disregard Hambleton District Council's councillors and employees have had for this village.

It has been used as a dumping ground for anything the posher villages and towns did not want.

Sadly we do not have pretty cottages that have been bought and upgraded by the rich and affluent, but we pay our council taxes and are entitled to be heard.

Letters of objection go unheeded and I was once told, rightly or wrongly, that a petition only counts as one objection, regardless of how many people have signed it.

Many acres of productive farmland and farmsteads have been concreted over, this land can never be reclaimed no matter how hungry we get.

There is more need for wheat and potatoes than there is for fizzy pop. I hope the younger generation don't have to learn this the hard way.

I served for two terms as a parish councillor and I personally found dealing with Hambleton District Council was something akin to dealing with the Kremlin.

Let us hope that the new North Yorkshire Council will give everyone a fair say.

Margaret Tiplady, Leeming Bar.

Future energy

WITH heatwaves causing record breaking temperatures across the UK this summer and droughts forecast for the future, the climate crisis should be at the forefront of our minds.

In some areas the temperature went over 40C. The high temperatures caused chaos up and down the UK with trains cancelled, roads melting, and people unable to work in the heat and taken ill.

This isn’t normal. Scientific research has shown that climate change makes heatwaves like these vastly more likely to happen, and the likelihood is that they will become both more frequent and longer lasting in the next few years.

One of the biggest causes of climate change is the extraction and burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, which as a society we rely on heavily. The burning of wood is also a major source for England.

In order to reduce our emissions, halt climate change and bring down soaring gas prices, we must urgently transition away from our current fossil fuel-based system, and invest in an energy system powered by renewables and a reduced demand for energy.

Regulation of offshore oil and gas extraction is a power reserved to the UK Government, and this autumn they will launch a new licensing round where energy companies can bid for licences to develop even more new oil and gas fields.

Climate scientists are clear that the more oil and gas fields we build, the longer we will be locked into an energy system that is making climate change worse by the day.

We need the UK Government to stop approving new fossil fuel projects and instead invest in renewables and energy efficiency projects such as home insulation.

The good news is that alternative technologies, such as renewable energy generation and energy efficiency measures already exist and are ready to be scaled up. And new renewables are four times cheaper than gas.

We could have a safer climate and lower energy bills for good. We just need the Government to act and we need our local MPs to take a stand against new oil and gas fields.

The people of the UK deserve a safe future and affordable energy. Right now, we’ve got neither.

The UK public wants a transition to clean, affordable renewable energy as soon as possible. It seems that it’s only the UK Government and the oil and gas industry that don’t.

Michael Chaloner, Aiskew, Bedale.

Railway walk

I CONGRATULATE the HECK Sausages Company, and many of its staff, for its worthy efforts in restoring the two-mile stretch of the former Leeds Northern Railway trackbed up to their head office at Sinderby station “Bangers bash will unveil new rail walk” (D&S Times, Aug 26).

To clarify, if I may, the last paragraph of the text. There was no direct line between Thirsk and Sinderby.

The seven and a half mile section of the original Leeds Northern Railway between Melmerby and Thirsk, which initially ran to the original station at Thirsk Town, but whose services were soon diverted to the present Thirsk (former junction) Station, opened in 1848, closing to passengers and freight from September 14, 1959.

Long before then it had been eclipsed in importance by the more direct route from Melmerby to Northallerton (via Sinderby) which opened in 1852, and closed to both through passengers and freight from March 6, 1967.

Meanwhile Sinderby Station itself, two and three quarters of a mile north of Melmerby on the latter route, had previously closed to passengers on January 1, 1962 and to freight from November 11, 1963.

Charles Allenby, Malton.

Reducing CO2

WE are heartened to see, from Richard Baker's letter “Carbon capture” (D&S Times letters, Aug 19), that there are companies such as his that are taking full responsibility for their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by capturing their CO2 and as he does, we strongly implore other companies, especially oil companies, to take such a level of responsibility.

We are thankful to Mr Baker for pointing out that our last Climate Column (D&S Times, Aug 12) gave the impression that carbon capture and storage was not possible, which as he points out is not the case.

However, carbon capture at the required scale is currently not possible to reach net zero even with the CO2 emission reductions proposed and without the proposed reductions it will never be practical to remove all our current CO2 emissions.

This reinforces the urgent need to reduce CO2 emissions at source as quickly as possible, and only rely on carbon capture and storage solutions to capture the small residual emissions.

It is reassuring that companies such as Climeworks are already operating carbon capture and storage technologies, but Climeworks are also realistic about their potential as only a small part of the path to net zero.

Climeworks are currently capturing and storing CO2 at scale under ideal conditions in Iceland, with access to geological storage and use of near zero carbon electricity from geothermal generation. Climeworks see their technology as the solution for the small percentage of our current carbon dioxide emissions which cannot be eliminated at source, such as aviation.

Climeworks also see their technology as being scalable in a way that wood burning and carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is not, simply due to the vast areas that would be required to grow trees compared to the small footprint of a Climeworks carbon capture plant.

The challenges of deploying more carbon capture and storage can be understood through the references that Climeworks cite to academic studies of their carbon capture and storage process.

It can be seen that to capture all our carbon dioxide emissions would require an increase of over 150 per cent in world energy production.

For example, if Climeworks were to capture one per cent of annual global CO2 emissions, they would need to use 1.5 per cent of global energy, and globally significant amounts of a range of materials.

Carbon capture and storage has a considerable cost compared to reduction, as according to, capture of 1kg of CO2 costs 90p, using one litre of petrol releases about 2.4kg of CO2, giving a CO2 capture cost of about £2.20 per litre of petrol used.

In summary, as Richard Baker clarified our Climate Column, carbon capture and storage is possible currently, but not at the scale required.

While developments are progressing and should be encouraged, it is essential that we do not delay reducing CO2 emissions due to an over reliance on carbon capture and storage, as there are still considerable uncertainties around the science, technology, scalability and economics.

Simon Gibbon, for Climate Action Stokesley and Villages.

Utility bonuses

I READ with interest the article “Water warnings amid hosepipe ban for Yorkshire” (D&S Times, Aug 19).

I was aware that there was a possibility of yet another private utility company providing Tunstall with a traffic control system displaying the message “when red light shows stop here" (presumably at substantial cost) to what was a leaking joint at the garden gate of my nearby neighbour residing adjacent to the road with no footpath – a traffic management system was not required.

I witnessed two workmen repairing the leaking joint but noticed that a car was parked in front of my house and enquired whether he was from Yorkshire Water.

He sat in his car for over an hour until the job was complete.

Being familiar with West Yorkshire and knowing that Yorkshire Water are now based in Bradford, I asked the manager where he resided and was shocked to learn that he had driven a return journey of over 150 miles from his home near Chesterfield.

I also recently learned on Radio 4 that the CEOs of private utility companies received £100,000 in performance bonuses whilst pumping raw sewage into rivers and into the sea.

In 1986, Margaret Thatcher announced that the London Stock Exchange dealing rooms were to be replaced by dealing rooms in all the large banks in the City of London’s square mile.

I was assigned to the project lasting three years at a BT data management centre off Fleet Street controlling the rollout of 300 miles of optic cable up lift risers and any orifice the BT engineers could find.

The coloured blazers and the hand signals of hundreds of runners disappeared and gambling electronically at the touch of a button is now the norm.

My performance related bonus for the success of the roll-out was £400. I spent this is a wine bar in Farrington for a meal and drinks for my brilliant team.

The red braces and the Porsche set spent this nearly every day on corporate entertainment.

“Levelling up” is a buzz word – I commuted 90 miles per day with a First Class BR season ticket and shared the compartment with the brolly and bowler brigade reading the Financial Times and never breaking into a conversation.

Ken Walsh, Tunstall, Richmond.

Brownfield developments

IT seems that Liz Truss is unfazed by allowing building on greenfield sites.

Surely by now the government must have realised that as we only produce 50 to 60 per cent of our food requirements, we should only build on brownfield sites, of which there are considerable quantify.

In Barton, there are two brownfield sites with planning permission for 30 and 50 houses, however the government seems determined to build a huge number of houses every year regardless of the location.

Time for a complete re-think I would suggest.

William Robotham, Barton, Richmond.