Letters: what unites the two sides of the mask debate

17 October 2020

9:00 AM

17 October 2020

9:00 AM

Wind worries

Sir: You are right to side with the 2013 version of Boris Johnson, when he claimed that wind power could not pull the skin off a rice pudding (‘Boris’s second wind’, 10 October). However, it was wrong to claim that offshore wind at £40 per megawatt hour makes Hinkley Point C, at over twice that price, look like a bad deal. The nuclear plant will be able to provide reliable, constant baseload power for up to 50 years. A wind plant will provide power only when the wind is blowing (and not blowing too hard). To provide reliable baseload requires fossil-fuelled backup.

Second, the £40 per megawatt hour is the current strike price offered by the winners of projects to build new capacity. Unfortunately this does not commit those companies to supply power at that price when the projects are built. Professor Gordon Hughes has conducted an analysis of companies which are building and operating 350 UK wind farms, and found that they would have to sell power at three to four times that price to be profitable.

These companies are taking a huge gamble on the future. Perhaps they believe that the government will introduce a carbon tax at such a rate that our electricity bills will at least double by 2030. Perhaps they can make offshore wind such a large component of our energy mix that the government will be forced to bail them out when they fail. Either way, the inability of wind turbines to pull the skin off a rice pudding when weather conditions are unfavourable will be the least of our worries.
Richard North
Hayling Island, Hants

Red herring

Sir: In his piece supporting Greenpeace dropping boulders onto the Dogger Bank (‘Breaking the bank’, 10 October), Charles Clover maintains that the European fishing industry is allowed to ‘bypass environmental laws’. This is nonsense. The fishing industry is one of the most severely regulated industries in Europe. Technical conservation regulations abound, and restrictions are strongly enforced by real-time electronic log-books, continuous satellite monitoring and rigorous discharge checks.

In his concern for the Dogger Bank, Mr Clover also chooses not to mention what will become the largest wind farm in the world being constructed on the Bank, encompassing 1,674 square kilometres with more than 250 of the largest turbines ever constructed. More fishing grounds lost.

The Fisheries Bill currently moving through parliament is strong legislation that will provide UK environment ministers and their officials with the framework to manage our fisheries, fishing grounds and individual marine protected areas post-Brexit. Sustainability is the first mentioned of six important interacting fisheries objectives in the Bill including precautionary, ecosystem and scientific evidence. Unusually, Mr Clover also supports Greenpeace’s unscientific campaign for the Bill to pick out a few pelagic freezer trawlers more than 100 metres in length to ban from large areas of our seas. These are some of the most environmentally friendly fishing vessels that exist, fishing off the seabed large shoals of mackerel and herring that are abundant in our waters and that they freeze at sea.
Stewart Harper
Burstow, Surrey

Masked bawl

Sir: While I empathise with Douglas Murray feeling ‘uncharacteristically torn’ over the mask debate (‘The transatlantic mask divide’, 10 October), I’m not sure there is any real ‘divide’. The two sides are just reflections of each other. The public debate has become one of sickening virtue-signalling. Pro-mask public figures like to pretend that their mask is the healthcare equivalent of Trident and look down their noses at anyone who suggests otherwise. In the opposite corner, the anti-maskers go almost to the point of licking each other’s faces in defiance of the bits of cloth they view as a government-issued ball and chain.
George Campkin
Seaview, Isle of Wight

Pups for sale

Sir: Rachel Johnson needn’t worry about a surge of abandoned puppies as families begin to struggle financially (‘Dog pounds’, 10 October). People who have paid up to £4,000 for a cockapoo puppy during lockdown are not going to hand it over to a rescue for nothing just to ensure it is rehomed responsibly. They’re going to sell it online to try to recoup some of their money. As will the next owner, and the next… The pup will ultimately end up in a rescue, but only after it is thoroughly messed up from being passed from pillar to post. We need a ban on people selling dogs online — many of them are simply puppy farm breeders in disguise. A dog is not an unwanted handbag to be sold over and over again regardless of the new owner’s suitability, but a sentient animal that needs a real commitment.
Wendy Henry, All Dogs Matter
London N2

King Learie

Sir: Rod Liddle was right to point out some of the omissions in the 100 Great Black Britons book (‘My pick for BBC chairman’, 10 October). I was disappointed that Learie Constantine did not make this list. Constantine arrived in Nelson, Lancashire from Trinidad in 1929, on a contract to play cricket for the town’s club. In 1939 he was listed as one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year. During the war years he was a welfare officer for West Indian workers, and went on to be awarded the MBE. He qualified as a lawyer, chaired the League of Coloured Peoples and was instrumental in the passing of the Race Relations Act. He published books on race relations and cricket, became Trinidad High Commissioner here, was a founding member of the Sports Council and a BBC governor. In 1969 he was awarded a life peerage, taking the title of Baron Constantine and becoming the first black man to sit in the House of Lords. Was he thought too establishment to make the list?
Bryn Evans,
Chesterfield, Derbyshire

Write to us: letters@spectator.co.uk

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10

Show comments