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8:30am Saturday 30th June 2012 in Readers' Letters
What a wonderful day for Skipton
Sir - What a wonderful day last Sunday for the Olympic Torch Procession, not only did the sun shine but Skipton welcomed approximately 25,000 visitors to see the spectacle.
A tremendous effort had been made by all those who participated in the Festival of Sport and thanks to Craven District Council, Skipton Town Council and all the volunteers for all their hard work in organising the event.
We would also like to mention the endeavours of Welcome to Yorkshire who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that as many people as possible were able to witness this once in a lifetime event of the Olympic torch which passed up and down the High Street.
Dave Wathen, Chairman Skipton BID Ltd
Sir - My visit to Skipton coincided with the Olympic Torch Relay and I was struck with the good nature of the crowd and small amount of rubbish left behind as the pavements cleared. However, after the fun morning I was disappointed with the organisation of entertainment during the long wait when the road was cleared. I wondered why various sports centres, clubs and schools from the Skipton locality were not encouraged to display something on/between floats such as cycling, fencing, archery, judo, gymnastics, boxing etc.
The Morris Dancers would have made a most colourful display and they were already there. Local artists could have had sculpture, crafts and painting being created on floats as they went by. Writers and reading groups could have been represented. Team Members from Harriers, football, hockey and other sports would have made good cheerleaders running in groups. A brass band, children’s jazz group, dance groups, etc could have made musical interludes and dance displays in the procession before the police and the highlight, The Torch Bearer, came through.
The entertainment would have been cheap, colourful and made locals aware of the rich variety of sports and artistic opportunities available on their doorstep.
Ann Thomas, Tarbert, Argyll
Conflict of interest?
Sir - The planning officers at Craven District Council recommended Maple Grove’s development. When councillors rejected the plan, the officers were forced to mount a defence of that rejection.
Surely there is a prejudicial conflict of interest involved? Can we really expect someone to exert the same vigour and energy to defend what they disagree with as they would if they were passionately in favour?
The land to be sold for this development belongs to CDC and they are also the planning authority. Surely this is another conflict of interest?
The charges for parking are controlled by CDC. They are double those in Ilkley and many of us would say they are too high. So high in fact, that they may be responsible for driving down some of the utilisation of the car parks and making it appear that Skipton can afford to develop on some of them. This lends itself to the accusation of being deliberate.
Low utilisation of car parks was one of the factors cited by the government inspector in his decision. CDC was hardly likely to state at the hearing that the cause was CDC over-charging.
Given the number of different conflicts of interest involved, should this not invalidate the hearing?
David Walsh, Western Road, Skipton
Distressed by decision
Sir - With reference to a report in the Craven Herald, June 13, we are distressed and confused to find the decision made by local councils can be overturned by someone who has no real interest in the area.
I refer, of course, to the town centre shopping scheme. What does this Planning Inspectorate inspector know about the needs of residents and visitors to our town?
The suggestion that Next may move into the new premises makes us think ‘another empty shop on the High Street?’ Do we really need yet another restaurant and a Pizza Express?
Many of the visitors to Skipton come by coach from all areas of the country to visit the High Street and the market.
In their wisdom the suggested reconfiguration of the car park means that coaches will no longer be catered for. What sort of madness is this?
Our High Street made the news a couple of years ago because it had not become a clone and had individual and varied shops, many of local origin. Now it is becoming renowned for its charity shops. Add to that the now increasing influx of eateries – it could become the ‘Cafe and Charity Shop Centre’ of the northern area. Is this what we really need, want or deserve?
What element of the new shops and the elimination of coaches will “widen its appeal to both visitors and residents”?
Mollie Dobson and friends, Draughton and Skipton area
Keep town unique
Sir - What will Councillor Chris Knowles Fitton and his party do next? When are they going to accept we are not and do not want to be Bradford or Leeds but wish to remain the unique, enjoyable town that thousands of all ages enjoy visiting, when they can find somewhere suitable to park at a reasonable rate.
I was recently horrified when I observed the figures of the Belle Vue Mills move as being £4,119,824 (£30,000 over budget) which means that it must rely on capital receipts for asset sales over the next three years to fund its capital programme.
Year ending out of 16 priority indicators, CDC failed to reach its target on eight of them including sickness levels of staff, not hitting target times to decide planning applications, processing benefits taking too long, residual household waste too high all of which points to cost cutting with too much work and not enough people to do it.
On a positive note the Town Hall has been saved and I hope to see it looking as it should, a building to be proud of with many possible uses. However, how it will cope with the latest addition at the back remains to be seen.
Lastly, I would like to commend the Town Council staff for their work on the festivals, long may they continue.
H Bulcock, Newmarket Street, Skipton
Chivalry lives on
Sir - On Thursday, June 21, a friend and myself were travelling to a charity event in Gargrave, when between Hetton and Flasby, we drove through what appeared to be, “A pool of muddy water”, but which proved to be a a deep pothole, and suffered a burst tyre.
I would like to thank, most sincerely, two young men who were in a blue van behind us, who immediately stopped and offered help.
They efficiently changed the wheel, and would not accept remuneration of any kind.
Due to their help, assistance and generosity, two elderly ladies were able to complete their journey in comfort. Very many thanks, Joan Wilson, Grassington
Sir - The letters from the anti-wind lobby in last week’s Craven Herald contain so many wild, misleading mistruths that they cannot go unchallenged.
It is tiresome that they trot out the same unfounded and unsubstantiated claims time and again, ignoring all the studies that prove the valuable contribution that onshore wind can make to the renewable energy mix that is needed for this country to reduce its carbon emissions.
Well designed, well positioned windfarm developments, such as the one at Brightenber, can do all of this without any harmful side effects.
Opinion polls on the subject consistently show overwhelming public support for windfarms, and where windfarms are built, support increases significantly, as all the scaremongering is blatantly untrue.
No one is suggesting that we should rely for 100 per cent of our electricity to come from onshore wind. So to peddle the myth that the lights will go out when the wind stops blowing, is misleading in the extreme. It demonstrates complete ignorance of the realities and complexities of our electricity supply industry.
Let’s put things in context; according to the DfECC figures for 2011, onshore wind represented less than three per cent of our total electricity production. Burning fossil fuel accounted for about 70 per cent (gas 40 per cent, coal 30 per cent). So when the wind blows we can burn a little bit less gas – reducing carbon emissions and the effect of climate change. There is scope for a considerable increase in total onshore wind capacity without any risk of it affecting the security of our electricity supply.
In fact, onshore wind is a particularly useful contribution to the energy mix in our part of the world, as peak electricity generation tends to coincide with peak electricity demand, ie. when it is cold, wet and WINDY.
For your correspondent to state “On average a wind farm fulfils its purpose less than 20 per cent of the time” is again very misleading. In this country, windfarms generate electricity between 70 per cent and 85 per cent of the time. It is also very misleading to suggest that fossil fuelled and nuclear power stations operate at 100 per cent capacity all the time. For the UK, the latest figures available from 2010, reveal that our nuclear power stations ran at a capacity of 59 per cent and coal fired stations at 40 per cent. Of course, there is an important difference between wind turbines and fossil-fuelled power stations. Once the gas or coal is burned, it is gone forever. Wind is a free abundant resource that replenishes naturally.
Another myth is that wind turbines often shut down when it is too windy. Modern turbines operate in wind speeds up to 55mph, this is ‘storm force’; much stronger than ‘gale force’. The University of Oxford report concluded that this happens about 0.1 per cent of the time (based on 10 years data from 45 meteorological stations).
The same report concluded that the impact of low wind speeds in any particular area can be smoothed by generation in other windier parts of the UK as weather systems travel across the country. This is another reason why it is good to have some on-shore wind built in the Craven District, to help spread the capacity in different districts around the country.
Generating electricity locally also means better transmission efficiency and fewer pylons!
I hope that this letter goes some way towards providing your readers with some real, well researched, facts and figures about the reality of onshore wind farms in the UK.
Lack of space here prevents a detailed correction of all the misleading health scares and false economics, maybe next week… Richard Ednay, MIET, East Marton
We need wind power
Sir - Regarding the Brightenber proposal, it has occurred to me that if only we could use some of the heat generated by letters on this subject then perhaps we would not need a wind farm. Let me throw a few more logs onto the fire.
I should declare an interest here, my home will be one of those closest to the proposed site. I’m not exactly delighted by that prospect but I’m trying to balance my personal interest with a wider perspective.
Two thoughts. Firstly the landscape in which we live is a human one, not an untouched wilderness. It has been, and continues to be, changed by us; whether through agriculture, habitation or leisure. The Leeds-Liverpool Canal was built for industry, not tourism, quarries old and new have provided employment and income but also changed the landscape.
Perhaps wind farms are a part of that evolution, and at least they utilise a natural resource for a greater good. They are also temporary, and will leave no toxic legacy when removed. Personally I find the lazy architecture of the SBS HQ a far greater eyesore but of course others will feel differently.
Secondly the energy we so greedily consume is not free and never has been. In the past the costs have been born by the coal miners, or by the (usually urban) communities living in the shadow of power stations, or by those who deal with the toxic waste for generations to come.
Wind is clearly not going to replace those sources completely but it can supplement them so maybe it is not unreasonable for our community to share some of the burden of power generation.
Wind farms currently generate 12 per cent of UK power, and the replacement of fossil fuels has to happen, and will require a variety of sources. So we all need wind power. Because the site is so close to my home I’d prefer it was built elsewhere but if none of us accept living close to a wind farm where does that leave us?
Dr Bruce Woodhouse, Bank Newton
Playing with words
Sir - Had to chuckle at Energiekontor’s attempt to justify the dodgy data they tried to sneak past us all recently. So, it’s OK to use misleading, national data as long as you put the word, “could” in front of the figures.
Note to Richard Branson: next time you do your income tax return, tell the Inland Revenue you “could” be earning the national average wage. Let’s stop playing with words, Mr Reid, and deal with the facts.
Simple question: why don’t you want us to know the real electricity production estimates for Brightenber Hill Wind Farm? Answer on a postcard the Planning Department – after all, you used the same numbers in your planning application. Did anyone notice the little snipe Energiekontor took at our integrity? It would have carried more weight if we were the ones on the receiving end of the Advertising Standards warning.
A few months ago, I got a sharp email from Energiekontor’s director, Guy Wilson. He didn’t like the “Energiekontor Trivia” page on our website and demanded I telephone his office in Bremen, Germany.
He went quiet when I offered to supply supporting documents for everything we say. Same offer to you, Mr Reid, let us know what evidence you want and we’ll give it to you.
Sniping aside, if anyone would like to see what made Mr Wilson so grumpy, visit our website at focl.org.uk/ where you’ll find all about us, how best to object to the proposal, and a few interesting snippets about Energiekontor.
Chris Emmett Friends of Craven Landscape
Sir - Within recent times three unpopular planning applications in this area have been rejected by our democratically elected council on our behalf. In all three cases the decision has been overturned by the Planning Inspectorate from Bristol.
We had no say in the selection of the Inspectors. Each could well have been a person who knew little or nothing of this area or its culture, and may also have had no significant knowledge of rural affairs, and the rural tourist industry.
I do not question the integrity of the inspectors, or their conscientious reviews of each case. However, the fact remains that in every case this one unelected person was empowered to overrule our democratically elected council, and this in a country that is willing to go to war to promote and/or defend the principles of democracy. Need I say more?
Tom Gibson, Stirton