Letters: Drilling for oil close to home makes sense in a time of growing volatility

A redundant oil platform moored in the Firth of Forth near Kirkcaldy, Fife
A redundant oil platform moored in the Firth of Forth near Kirkcaldy, Fife - pa

SIR – Protesters will go ballistic when they hear that drilling for oil and gas in the North Sea has been approved (report, September 27). Yet they fail to take into account the high emissions involved in importing oil and gas – of which Britain does a great deal. 

There is a long time to go before such energy sources can be fully phased out, and we cannot leave ourselves dependent upon others in the meantime. Maybe now the powers-that-be will see the value of fracking and get started on that project as well. The world is too dangerous for us to just sit back and hope.

Mick Ferrie
Mawnan Smith, Cornwall

SIR – Common sense has prevailed with regulatory approval for the Rosebank oil field.

Until the UK has sufficient reliable sources of clean, cheap energy such as electricity derived from mini nuclear plants, we will need both gas and oil.The challenge for the Government is to put an integrated solution together quickly.

Kim Potter
Lambourn, Berkshire

SIR – There was rejoicing in Scotland at the announcement that development of the Rosebank oil field can begin. It is great news for the economy – and for North Sea workers. 

This decision will give oil and gas companies confidence to invest in the North Sea for the future, ensuring employment for thousands of offshore workers and security for their families.

Dennis Forbes Grattan

SIR – Rishi Sunak’s plan to offer cash to communities to accept pylons (report, September 23) misses the point.

In many instances, such as in the east of England, a pylon should be the last resort. Mr Sunak himself made a commitment to an offshore grid when he visited during his leadership campaign. An offshore grid will be faster, better and cheaper than the current, unplanned process, which inflicts twice as much transmission infrastructure on the region.

Transmission operators should be made by Ofgem to adhere to the mandatory Treasury Green Book. It contains guidance that ensures that all project alternatives are appraised and that impacts on the environment, natural capital and businesses are quantified. Instead, Ofgem – seemingly a regulator in name only – is allowing National Grid to push forward with proposals that do not consider alternatives or the cost of externalities.

When transmission infrastructure is built, communities’ main concern is full compensation for the impact on their businesses or ability to sell their homes. A new playground or piffling discount on an electricity bill does not cut the mustard and will not help infrastructure get built more quickly.

Rosie Pearson
Founder, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk Pylons
Coggeshall, Essex

Scotland’s shame

SIR – What further shame and humiliation must the people of Scotland endure from an utterly incompetent SNP administration (“It’s better if addicts OD here, says drug ‘fix room’ doctor”, report, September 27)? 

As we endeavour to attract new talent to Scotland, the headlines remain dominated by the highest drugs deaths in Europe, the highest level of alcohol deaths since 2008, the highest tax rates in the UK, and a growing list of cancer patients paying for private treatment due to ever-increasing waiting lists. 

Shockingly, these facts are now contributing to a lower life expectancy in Scotland where, on average, Scots can expect to live three years fewer than people in England. What an appalling state of affairs for our country. It was the hapless First Minister, Humza Yousaf, who had his hands on the tiller as the Scottish health secretary. 

We are continually fed a diet of “progessive” policies from the SNP, but in reality they limit life chances and opportunities for so many people.

Richard Allison

Cracknell’s candidacy

SIR – I would like to congratulate James Cracknell on his selection as the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Colchester (report, September 26).
I’d also like to commiserate with him on failing to land his first-choice constituency, Henley-on-Thames. The news of his selection is already having an impact in Colchester. Pledges of support for my own campaign have flowed in and we have raised nearly £1,000 in donations since Tuesday.

Cllr Pam Cox
Labour parliamentary candidate
Colchester, Essex

Gender ID statistics

SIR – The census estimates on gender identity remain the best available across England and Wales (“The census inflated trans numbers – but most of us already knew the truth”, Features, September 26). They are broadly consistent with NHS data collected in the same year and other countries’ comparable data.

The new, voluntary question went through rigorous development and testing involving trans and non-trans people and, through the census rehearsal, people who did not have English as their main language, before being finalised through legislation. The results also went through the most thorough quality assurance to date, and we know the information we have published accurately reflects what people told us on their questionnaires.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) strives to make the first results available to all at the earliest opportunity. This is far from the end of our work, and we are currently examining what data patterns and other information show about how people answered the question. We are also continuing to explore how we can provide the right information for people to use the data in the most informed way. Understanding this is complex and, rightly, takes time.

We await the interim findings of the Office for Statistics Regulation’s review.

Jen Woolford
Director, Population Statistics, ONS
Fareham, Hampshire

Today’s saying

SIR – My favourite (and totally disingenuous) catchphrase of Today presenters (Letters, September 27) is: “Forgive me for interrupting...”

Dominic Weston Smith
Faringdon, Oxfordshire

Letby retrial

SIR – As a retired barrister, I wonder on what logical basis the Crown Prosecution Service has decided to pursue a retrial over a single charge of attempted murder against the former nurse Lucy Letby (report, September 26), despite the fact that she has already been convicted of seven murders and six attempted murders, and has been sentenced to a whole-life prison term. 

The original trial took 10 months, while this one is estimated to last at least three weeks. The Code for Crown Prosecutors requires the CPS to consider whether any prosecution is in “the public interest”, and I question what possible public interest is served by pursuing this single outstanding charge. 

Letby cannot be given any additional or more onerous sentence, and a further conviction is hardly going to make her more reviled than she is already. In addition, how can she be given a fair trial after all the publicity following her conviction? It will be impossible to find any jurors who have not heard of her and it would be irrational to expect them not to have been influenced by the inevitable publicity her convictions generated. Frankly, any such trial will be a farce of pretended “fairness”.

The CPS made the decision not to proceed with five other charges of attempted murder and has left them to “lie on file”. That was the sensible decision in the circumstances and it makes the decision to pursue this one charge even more pointless. 

The CPS should reconsider its plan to proceed and should apply the Code for Crown Prosecutors sensibly.

Neil Addison

Trust’s lack of vision

SIR – The National Trust will put a glass roof over the ruin of Clandon Park House (Letters, September 27). 

By contrast, for the restoration of Dumfries House, the King’s vision was to train local apprentices in building crafts and regenerate the local economy. 

What a shame the National Trust lacks similar ambition.

S J Morris
Whittlebury, Northamptonshire

Table talk

SIR – Regarding fork protocol (Letters, September 26), “prong” is wrong; “tine” is fine.
Timothy Bidwell
Steyning, West Sussex

Why plans to stub out smoking could backfire

Fags' end: the smoking age could rise each year until it covers the whole population
Fags' end: the smoking age could rise each year until it covers the whole population - getty

SIR – Whoever is advising the Prime Minister on his suggested new policies on smoking (report, September 23) might like to consider the following factors before imposing yet another state restriction on people’s choices.

When the tobacco industry’s corporation tax, employees’ income tax, investor dividends and those who supply it are taken into account, along with the direct taxation, tobacco pays for many times the amount it allegedly costs the NHS.

Secondly, the rise in tobacco costs has seen an exponential increase in the availability of contraband tobacco in Britain, whose use obviously does not show up on the Government’s warped statistics on tobacco consumption.

Lastly, the illegal narcotics industry and its associated violent criminal element presents a clear warning of a future of banned and/or restricted tobacco availability.

I speak as a vaper of over a year’s standing.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Lambourn, Berkshire

Teachers’ unions exacerbated lockdown harms

SIR – The report by the Children’s Rights Organisations alliance argues that harm could have been avoided if ministers had considered children’s rights when making decisions on how to limit the spread of Covid-19 (report, September 27).

One important piece of the jigsaw concerns the role of the teachers’ unions. They resisted plans to reopen schools in June 2020, called for another lockdown in October 2020 and in January 2021 claimed that a national lockdown was the only credible response to the spread of the virus. 

Had ministers opted against school closures, in all probability the unions would have called a strike and most schools would have been forced to close anyway. It therefore seems unreasonable to put the whole blame on the Government. 

Brian Armstrong 
North Shields

SIR – When Boris Johnson closed schools on March 20 2020 he lost my support for good. It was clear at the time that children were barely affected by the virus and this was a weak and panicky response to union pressure and measures already taken by the Left-wing governments of Wales and Scotland. It was bound to be detrimental to a generation of young people. 

State schools were generally poor even before the pandemic, with just 65 per cent of pupils reaching expected standards in the three Rs. Schools closed on the slightest of excuses. At least 100,000 children have now disappeared from the system and many parents see no reason to postpone a holiday until schools break up. 

For two years, our leaders demonstrated their power. How sad that it was used to create long-term harm rather than good, and that there have been no apologies or any sense that they grasp the seriousness of what they’ve done.

Tim Coles
Carlton, Bedfordshire

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