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Letters: The British will be left in the cold when the power supply cuts out

People waiting outside King's Cross station in London on Friday after services were suspended because of a power cut 
People waiting outside King's Cross station in London on Friday after services were suspended because of a power cut  Credit: Lewis Pennock/PA

SIR – As the Government moves to phase out gas central heating, and threatens to tax woodburning stoves into oblivion, how are the elderly to keep warm in the event of electricity power cuts?

Dr Bertie Dockerill
Bishop Auckland, Co Durham

 

SIR – I am grateful to Western Power for its help during the power cut.

However, why do the authorities insist that everything is powered by electricity when we remain at risk of loss of supply? No woodburners, no oil-fired boilers, no gas boilers.

I have always made sure that I had a gravity-fed hot water system and cooker so that everything would work. Infrastructure must be improved to ensure a constant supply of electricity before other sources are banned.

R B Mills
Worcester

 

SIR – Ross Clark (Commentary, August 10) says that as we exchange gas boilers for electric heat pumps we will “lose those sources of energy independent of the [electricity] grid”.

Most gas boilers rely on electricity for the fans, pumps and other parts. Flick the switch on yours and see how quickly it shuts down: immediately. Our dependence on the grid is even greater than Mr Clark suggests.

Chris Whitehouse
London SE11

 

SIR – The power outage was a foretaste of the future if the Government continues to pursue its foolish policy of promoting renewables and closing proper power plants. We are following South Australia, where the whole system crashed three years ago.

Alex Henney
London N6

 

 

SIR – Captain John Maioha Stewart (Letters, August 12) is right to draw attention to the speed at which battery backup can come online in an emergency.

The biggest battery in the world is in South Australia. It was built by Tesla for AU$ 66 million (£36.8 million). If needed in a blackout, its 100MW can power the state’s 700,000 households for 2.57 minutes – just long enough for other power sources to be activated.

The Hornsea wind farm shutdown last week is yet to be explained, but, given its size and newness, we may suppose it was due to very strong winds. If we are relying on wind for half of our electricity generation (as was the case on Friday), we might be a little worried about the prospect of the whole lot shutting down in a storm.

Dr Ken Pollock
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire

 

SIR – The real reason for the power failure is a lack of a large-capacity, fossil-fuel “spinning reserve”: coal or gas turbine generators that are immediately able to compensate for the loss of capacity when another generating station trips or fails. This is not possible with wind, as you can’t turn it on or make it blow harder.

Donald Dunlop
Blairgowrie, Perthshire

 

Perilous towpaths

SIR – I have experienced just how dangerous canal towpaths have become for walkers (Letters, August 10).

Earlier this year a cyclist knocked me down on the Trent and Mersey Canal towpath. I broke my elbow and injured my knees and hands. The elbow required surgery, from which I am still recovering. The cyclist failed to give adequate warning of his approach, only sounding the bell when virtually upon us. There were no visibility problems. In my opinion, it was a complete lack of consideration for others that caused this accident.

It was once delightful to walk along the canal, but, sadly, I now feel it has become too perilous. Action must be taken to ensure the safety of all those who wish to enjoy canal towpaths.

Pam Maskery
Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire

 

Positive stinking

Stinking Bishop is revered as one of Britain's smelliest cheeses Credit:  Matt Cardy/Getty 

SIR – It is not completely accurate to suggest that Stinking Bishop cheese is named after a “miserable” Gloucestershire farmer called Bishop (Letters, August 12).

The pear juice used to wash the cheese is indeed foul smelling, hence “stinking”. If the farmer from whose farm the pear originated had the reputation suggested, the cheese would more likely have been called “Wretched Bishop”.

James Bishop
Wincanton, Somerset

 

Geranium revolution

Geranium × johnsonii, or "Johnson’s Blue" Credit:  Andrew Crowley

SIR – Among my collection of cranesbill geraniums is Geranium x johnsonii “Johnson’s Blue”. I acquired it three years ago and it had failed before to produce a flower.

Since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, however, it has developed a mass of 
blue flowers while my other varieties 
of reds, 
pinks and purples have largely gone over.

Is my garden a portent of a changing political landscape?

Philip Duly
Haslemere, Surrey

 

No confidence, no crisis

SIR – In March 1979, James Callaghan’s Labour government lost a vote of no confidence. Callaghan did not resign but called an election and remained in office until the result was known.

On October 1 2010, the coalition government faced a proposed amendment to the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill, which would have required a prime minister who lost a no-confidence vote to resign immediately.

The Act that was subsequently passed contains no such requirement, but rather empowers the prime minister to set the date of the election in the event that no alternative government has obtained the confidence of the House.

The prime minister referred to can only be the person who held that office at the time of the no-confidence vote, since no other would have emerged before the election is triggered.

This means the so-called “constitutional crisis” that it is claimed would arise if Boris Johnson did not resign after losing a vote of no confidence and called an election on a date of his choosing is a fiction, created by those who wish to subvert our constitution to their own ends.

Michael Maughan
Tynemouth, Northumberland

 

 

SIR – The all-female dream-team “emergency cabinet” proposed by the Green MP Caroline Lucas is more a nightmare line-up of anti-democratic appeasers who wish to frustrate the will of the people, connected not by their gender but by their desire to disregard the result of the EU referendum.

Of course, patriots such as Priti Patel and Theresa Villiers would not be welcome, despite being successful female politicians, as they do not subscribe to the Left-liberal agenda espoused by Ms Lucas.

Colin Bullen
Tonbridge, Kent

 

Wind of change

SIR – If the objection to eating meat is based on the greenhouse gases produced by cattle, I fail to see how a diet of pulses for us is going to help, given the well-known effects of eating too many beans.

Andrew Allen
Mobberley, Cheshire

 

Poor Prom acoustics

SIR – I am not surprised that Ivan Hewett found the orchestra too dominant to hear fully the delightful singing of Louise Dearman (Proms review, August 4).

Blame the acoustics of the Royal Albert Hall. On the BBC transmission, one could hear every word.

Lincoln Jones
Buckley, Flintshire

 

A flying full set

SIR – The BBC reports that the RAF will allow its personnel to grow beards. An RAF spokesperson said: “This move will help broaden the recruitment pool, promote inclusivity and help us retain our highly skilled personnel.”

Really? Has anyone ever left the RAF because they could not grow a beard or, indeed, decided not to join due to a ban on them? Of course not.

This is another example of the inclusivity and diversity drivel that is insidiously creeping through the Armed Forces. It is high time that those at the top stood by the values and standards that have set these Services apart, rather than pander to the thought police.

Martyn Thomas
London SE27

 

Grouse-moor management enriches wildlife

Gun-ho: a springer spaniel runs through the heather looking for birds on a grouse shoot Credit: Alamy

SIR – I do not shoot but I have been a naturalist and ecologist since the Sixties, and know the wildlife of the Pennines well. For the Labour Party (report, August 12) to claim that the management of grouse moors “exacerbates climate change” and damages peat moors, “which would otherwise absorb and capture carbon dioxide”, is rubbish.

The richest wildlife habitat is the grouse moor of heather, bilberry and cotton grass, and the undrained enclosed pastures immediately below. It is the way in which these are managed that makes the wildlife so abundant.

Endangered species such as 
the curlew, golden plover and cuckoo thrive, as do predatory species including the merlin, hen harrier and short-eared owl. Lapwings, snipe and skylarks, which were almost wiped out by intensive dairy farming, have also recovered.

Banning grouse shooting would stop these moorlands being managed for a wide diversity of endangered wildlife.

Dr Malcolm Greenhalgh
Lowton, Lancashire

 

 

SIR – Those with a desire to have shooting banned fail to appreciate the many benefits of field sports to the rural environment.

For instance, with the help of resident gamekeepers, Scottish National Heritage has been 
funding efforts on moorlands to reverse the decline in our wader population.

Many who do not shoot simply enjoy the camaraderie of the shooting field, whether working with dogs or as beaters.

Fergus Murray
Edinburgh

 

Post-study visas would boost Britain’s start-ups

SIR – Studies show that scientists who move between countries have a higher impact than those who remain in their homeland. This is one reason why the Prime Minister’s abolition of the cap on Tier 1 “exceptional talent” visas (report, August 9) is good news for British science.

If the British economy is to reach its true potential, however, the Government needs to do the same for entrepreneurial talent. This means acting to keep brilliant young science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) graduates in this country after they have studied at our world-class universities. British higher education should be much more than just a successful export.

According to the Entrepreneurs Network, 49 per cent of Britain’s 100 fastest-growing start-ups have at least one immigrant co-founder, while of our 14 billion-dollar start-ups nine have at least one foreign-born co-founder.

New post-study work visas for all Stem graduates would help to retain these brilliant minds.

Professor Alice P Gast
President, Imperial College London
London SW7