Sir: Seb Kennedy tells us that, like Covid, our looming energy crisis came from China (‘Power grab’, 9 October). Its roots are nearer home. The capitulation of successive governments to doom-mongers such as Insulate Britain and the catastrophists who are due to fly to Glasgow in a few weeks for COP26 is just as much to blame. Britain has sufficient shale gas reserves to last hundreds of years, yet in the face of a few illegal demonstrations, the government abandoned the opportunity to secure gas supplies for generations to come. It caved in to those who opposed planning permission for shale mines in Lancashire and elsewhere.
The naivety of aspiring to net zero without a realistic and costed transition plan is now hitting home. Perhaps COP26 presents the opportunity to tone down the rhetoric and adjust policies to reality. I’m not counting on it.
Turn to tide
Sir: The UK no longer has much oil or natural gas but we are surrounded by water which moves continuously, powered by the gravitational effects of the sun and moon. Harnessing this can produce electricity without poisoning the air or creating dangerous waste. Nor can Mr Putin interrupt the movement of celestial bodies. I have yet to hear a cogent reason for not using tidal power as the main way to heat our homes and power industry.
Forgetting the flock
Sir: The church closers’ charter boringly titled GS 2222 (‘Power to the parish’, 25 September) is not the only smoking gun when it comes to the archbishops’ protestations that there is no threat to the parishes. My diocese, Leicester, has this very week been asked to approve an uncosted, unstaffed, untrialled scheme whereby some 234 parishes will be subsumed into 20-25 giant minster areas, which may be lay-led. The independence — and assets — of individual PCCs will be removed into centralised control. The wording of the document betrays the lack of thought and planning for the local consequences: ‘We are grappling with questions as to how to best be present as Christian community within the parish and locality.’
Stephen Billyeald’s letter (2 October) rightly identified the cost of diocesan bureaucracy as the problem. Leicester diocese was overspending by £1 million. Instead of the obvious solution — cutting the diocesan spending — the bureaucrats favour this model. However, it makes no financial sense to cut clergy while hoping to increase giving (as the document states is the scheme’s aim). The C of E’s own studies show the opposite outcome. The scheme is wishful thinking, disregarding both the evidence and the impact of clergy cuts on the morale of clergy and current donors.
Professor R.G. Faulkner
Sir: In his reply to my letter (2 October), Peter Hitchens quotes extensively from a book by Richard Sakwa (Frontline Ukraine) without mentioning that for much of his research, Sakwa relies on documents published by the Russian foreign ministry. Chief among these is the so-called White Book on violations of human rights in Ukraine, published in 2014 — months after Russia illegally occupied Crimea and sent covert troops to eastern Ukraine. There they and their proxies committed human rights violations including the murder of civilians and the kidnapping of foreign journalists. These have been well documented by the UN which cites widespread ‘arbitrary arrests, torture and executions’.
Both Australia and the Netherlands hold Russia responsible for the downing of flight MH17 over Ukraine in July 2014. The Russian foreign ministry blames Ukraine for the destruction of the aircraft. I’ll let your readers be the judge of the accuracy of data from the Russian foreign ministry.
Sir: James Innes-Smith (‘Notes on bungalows’, 9 October) says the first bungalows in the UK appeared in Kent in 1869. Charles R. Cockerell built some houses with curvilinear thatched roofs influenced by Bengal huts on the Sezincote estate in Gloucestershire in the 1820s, which Raymond Head (The Indian Style) believes to be the first examples of Indian vernacular architecture in Britain and forerunners of the bungalow.
Nigel à Brassard
Sir: Cheers to Rosie Millard for her spirited defence of the Marvel Universe (‘Comic genius’, 2 October). I cried three times during Avengers: Endgame and I was far from alone. Brilliant writing and characterisation — all, as she says, stemming from the human condition. Even in the case of Thor, who isn’t technically human. Or Rocket Raccoon, who is… well, a raccoon. Meanwhile the Marvel Cinematic Universe-resistant intelligentsia have Martin Scorsese to fight their corner: a hack who has remade the same film, with frequently the same actors, throughout his career. Needing to evoke an audience response, Martin puts a character’s head in a vice. Marvel’s writers have a thousand more subtle tricks up their sleeve.
Appleby Magna, Leicestershire
Squarrie and ginger
Sir: Katy Balls was on the ball with her homage to Scotland’s other national drink (‘Notes on Irn Bru’, 2 October). It is indeed an excellent hangover cure but is only half of the traditional menu. The archetypal combination is ‘squarrie and ginger’ — Lorne sausage and Irn Bru, the sausage of course between two slices of plain bread.
Haddington, East Lothian
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