SIR - In the July 4 edition of the Craven Herald – ‘Spend Money on a new station instead’ – John Heaton is right to look to the future when assessing the arguments in favour of reopening of the rail link between Skipton and Colne. His prediction that the trains carrying fuel to the Drax B power station are likely to have stopped running by the time the reinstated link is completed may also prove correct as a consequence of the Government’s recent pledge ‘to cut or offset our CO2 emissions in respect of transport, farming and industry to zero by 2050'. John's letter highlights the need to reassess all long term projects involving significant investment to ensure they are consonant with the ‘zero carbon world’ we are moving to. In each case we need to ask whether they will help reduce greenhouse gases or will simply lock us more firmly into a carbon based future.

Applying this test to a few of the local projects that have featured recently in your pages produces some interesting results. If one of the strategies for achieving the zero CO2 target is an increasing emphasis on sustainable modes of transport - walking and cycling - and using public transport rather than the private car then reopening the Skipton – Colne railway would clearly be sympathetic to this aim. The proposed triple-decker car park at Steeton station on the other hand (July 11) – ‘Extra deck pushes back car park plan’ would only increase CO2 emissions and reinforce existing commuting patterns. The question therefore needs to be asked whether the car park should be abandoned with the resources earmarked for its construction being applied instead to rebuilding Cross Hills station (referred to in John's letter). This would not only bring the railway within walking/cycling distance for Cross Hills residents but would also reduce the demand for parking at Silsden. This demand could be further reduced by reopening the Skipton – Colne line as East Lancs travellers to Airedale could commence their journey by train rather than driving to Steeton. In addition to promoting the Government's zero CO2 objective these two initiatives would also afford the long suffering Steeton residents some relief from the current blight of on-street.

There are also major projects at national level in need of this kind of re-evaluation. If we are serious about achieving our zero carbon target perhaps we need to abandon the pursuit of speed in the form of the new HS2 line so that the eye-watering amounts of capital and physical resources that this project would consume can be reapplied to a rolling programme to electrify and increase the capacity of the entire rail network. Not only would this significantly reduce the carbon footprint of rail travel but spread the benefits of the investment far more widely than concentrating them on two high speed routes.

Food for thought?

Steve Wilton

Ash Grove