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Letters to the Editor – Saturday 22nd July 2017

Today’s collection of letters starts with a letter we received from our reader and correspondent Cllr Brian Silvester who asks a rather inconvenient question regarding the current Brexit negotiations:

Sir,

Most non-EU nationals in the UK are not allowed access to “public funds” from the Government (such as jobseekers’ allowance or tax credits) – so why are EU citizens in the UK being allowed to draw UK benefits after Brexit? They will even be able to claim child benefits for children who have never set foot in the UK.

My view is that after Brexit, EU citizens in the UK should be treated the same as other foreign nationals in the UK. Why has the Tory Government treated them so differently and favorably? This concession alone will cost us £billions that could be spent on the NHS,schools,the elderly etc.

The Tory Government have adopted a position of supine surrender on the Brexit negotiations with the EU.

Respectfully, Brian Silvester, UKIP Councillor, Publicity Officer UKIP Crewe and Nantwich.

The next letter, sent in by our reader and correspondent Roger Arthur, also takes the government’s Brexit negotiations to task:

Sir,

This article in the Guardian seems to assume that the UK will continue to maintain EU tariffs after Brexit and that tariff barriers will be erected between the EU and the UK. But since the EU exports over £60 billion pa more than we do to them, their producers stand to suffer far more than we do from a tariff war. But if both sides did decide to apply tariffs of say 20% then the UK would see around £12 billion pa more going into the U.K. government’s coffers.

The EU applies average agricultural tariffs of over 22% on imports. So EU food prices are higher than general world prices – 15% higher from 2002 to 2011. Once outside of the Customs Union the U.K. will over time be able to reduce tariffs and the cost of imports from beyond the EU, will fall.

UK farmers can continue to receive subsidies, because UK taxpayers stump up over £2 for every £1 paid them by the EU. Thus their subsidies could be increased. Landowners who get CAP funds for owning land should have to be more productive if they want to continue to get subsidies.

Our farmers should be encouraged to ramp up capacity, to improve our food independence. That along with cheaper imports from beyond the EU will reduce UK dependence on overpriced EU goods. Of course the French won’t like losing protection from competition by foreign farmers. But that is an EU problem, not ours. French farmers get very generous CAP payments and, in future the UK will not be funding that.

Yes it will take time for adjustments to be made and there will be short-term fluctuations. But there is nothing that the Government can’t deal with. Of course the value of the £ will affect commodity prices, but the £ has been falling for many years, due to the fall off in our foreign earnings. To arrest that fall, we will need to increase innovation and productivity by reducing the burden of EU regulations, which (according to a 2005 UK Treasury report) costs British business around £100 billion pa to comply with.That is in addition to the direct net cost of £11bn in EU membership costs, plus tens of billions due to tax avoidance allowed by EU regulations. There is certainly nothing in the article which might compensate the loss of our ability to have laws proposed in our own Parliament, by MPs who are accountable to us.

Respectfully, Roger Arthur

Finally, here’s a letter by our reader and correspondent Ceri Jayes which is self-explanatory:

Sir,

I am intrigued to read that The Devon Greater Horseshoe Bat Project, thanks to a £785,500 Heritage Lottery Fund grant, is working towards sustaining Devon’s population of these animals. Numbers have plummeted to the point where it is now under threat of extinction.

The Government-subsidised bat-killing machines may be to blame. I refer, of course, to wind turbines.

An Exeter University survey of 29 wind farms found that 194 bats a month are killed by the turbines, and this is probably an under-assessment. Extrapolating that finding to all 6,954 of our onshore wind farms would indicate 80,000 bats are killed every year. The survey was published in November 2016.

In the UK, all species of bats are protected by law. If you or I were to harm just one we could face a prison sentence of up to six months. Many companies and house owners go to great lengths to preserve bats. For example, the reopening of the tungsten mine, Wolf Minerals, in Hemerdon, was delayed because roosts of many different species of bat were found in the old buildings. Three separate European Protected Species Licenses were applied for and granted before those roosts could be disturbed and new roosts created to replace the lost habitats. This is how strict laws are on bat preservation.

So when the Exeter University survey was published, where were the howls of protest from those who profess to love nature on reading of the wholesale destruction by wind turbines of creatures which have lived on Earth for 30 million years? What recommendations were made in the report? The scientists suggested that wind farm operators switch off or slow turbines on summer night when bats are most at risk!

The contribution of wind turbines to our energy requirement is negligible. On October 31 2016 the total amount of power fed into the national grid by wind turbines was just 0.6 per cent of the electricity we were using. On January 22 2017 it was 0.73 per cent. Not only is the contribution of the wind turbines negligible, but when the blades don’t turn they are actually fed electricity from the National Grid to keep them warm.

Brexit gives us the perfect opportunity to review our energy policy, and to prioritise lower prices and more secure supplies. The sooner the green energy policy is reviewed the better. It certainly can’t come soon enough for the bat population.

Respectfully, Ceri Jayes

 

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11 Comments on Letters to the Editor – Saturday 22nd July 2017

  1. BBC Farming Today related that beef reared in Australia is shipped to the UK and taken to, say, Hereford where it is trimmed of a certain amount of fat whereupon it can be legally sold as ‘British Steak’ the following day. This is permitted by EU regulations but the same is not true of Lamb. So Aussie beef can be transported half way round the world and a profit still made. 20 minutes in a Waitrose aisle will show that they retail degradable produce from at least 40 countries outside the EU, many from the South Americas. EU regs say that ‘Single Gloucester’ cheese can’t be made from unpasteurised milk but ‘Double Gloucester’ can. Our local dairy has retaliated by calling it’s unpasteurised Single Gloucester, “Gloster Rebellion”. There are, as yet, no recorded deaths from eating this particular produce.

  2. PurplePottymouth // July 22, 2017 at 11:34 pm // Reply

    Dee – I have always called the things bat blasting eagle slicers at election hustings to wind up the Watermelons (come to think of it maybe the term came from Delingpole originally)
    Thank you Ceri for raising this, I understand they die a horrible death from these things.
    EU helps British farmers – ‘avin a laff – my business is now located on the site of what was a prize winning dairy when my children were young. We used to have the calves in the field opposite our house. My landlord gave up after years of propping up the dairy with other business income and seeing no end to being unable to sell his milk at cost, let alone a modest profit

  3. So not only is the idea of replacing coal-fired power stations which are not only reliable but also generate electricity at a lower cost than by other means in order to ‘save the planet’ batty, it’s also bad for bats! Who would have thought…

  4. Roger’s letter has reminded me of two things.

    Firstly, it reminds me of watching an edition of BBC’s Countryfile last year while I was visiting my parents’ house.
    One of the features was on how Brexit would affect UK farmers, and typically of the BBC, presented a very pro-EU bias.
    A couple of farmers were interviewed and the basic gist was that ‘without EU subsidies we’d go out of business’.
    The programme failed to explain exactly how the CAP works nor did it explain what the subsidies were actually provided for.
    My understanding is that the EU subsidises farmers in order to deliberately control their production; remember the butter-mountain fiasco?
    Freed from the CAP, from the EU, our farmers should be looking forward to becoming more productive; I’d also hope to see less reliance on imported foods that could otherwise be grown or reared in this country. I’d like to see farmers continue to get financial assistance, as long as the money went towards equipment investments and job creation (not just to line the pockets of wealthy land-owners), but I’d like to think we could reach a point where our farmers were profitable enough without relying on subsidies for financial assistance.

    Secondly, it reminded me of how much I laughed when I read some time back that Walkers (the potato crisp manufacturers) were having to increase their prices due to rising costs of imports from the EU due to currency fluctuations. Which I found odd, as the principal ingredient of their potato crisp products is indeed potatoes, which they so proudly boast on their packaging are ‘100% grown in Britain’!

  5. Thank you for these letters. I agree with Cllr Brian that we are being sold down the river by our Government – who in their right mind would sign up to pay for children yet unborn who don’t live here, as I understand the position to be. No doubt the EU knows it will need help paying bills, and doesn’t intend to let go of the cash cow that is the poor old British taxpayer. I thought, by the way, that a Government was elected by the people on the understanding,that their taxes were spent wisely by those that elected them, for the benefit of the electors? Perhaps I am wrong?

    Regarding British Farmers, Roger, I think food security is something that has been shockingly neglected by our short-termist Governments, and I believe one day we will bitterly regret that.

    Cheri, I had no idea that so many bats died under the cost of wind turbines – I’m horrified, especially as everyone else has to jump through hoops in terms of bat protection in churches and new build houses, both of which I have experienced. I love bats, I don’t know why people are frightened of them – they are lovely little chaps – sort of flying mice!

    • “Sort-of”, Dee? That’s why “Fliedermaus”, as in Strauss’ Die Fliedermaus, the bat, literally translates as “flying mouse”! 😀

      More seriously, perhaps we should start rating wind farms with BDPM – Bat Deaths Per Month, when we correspond with the press?

    • kenneth james ogilvie // July 23, 2017 at 12:05 am // Reply

      Our farmers are fast going down the road of the French that are being paid to leave their fields fallow. I know of at least one farmer who hasn’t cultivated his fields or grown a crop for at least 7 years.

      • Thanks, that confirms what I suspected was the case. EU susidises farms and encourages them to be less productive, in favour of other farms elsewhere within the EU, protectionism at its finest!
        No wonder so many farmers claim they would go out of business without subsidies!
        Just out of curiosity, I have just been inspecting the contents of my freezer:
        Tesco Chicken Fillets, origin of chicken: ‘EU’ (how vague!)
        Iceland Southern Fried Chicken Drumsticks, origin of chicken: Poland (!)
        Iceland Pork Burgers, origin of pork: ‘EU’
        So it is not possible to rear chickens and pigs in the UK? Lets get our own farmers more productive again, and stop relying on cheap imports from the EU!

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