May 27: Grouse moors are a desolate wasteland

From: Dominic Rayner, Gledhow Avenue, Roundhay, Leeds.

AMANDA Anderson of the Moorland Association was “compelled” to write to you (The Yorkshire Post, May 22), but her arguments are far from compelling. As the representative of a bunch of large landowners, of course her job is to write to you in defence of the huge public subsidies paid to the landowners, but they are indefensible.

Anyone who has walked across a managed grouse moor will be astonished that such an empty landscape could be the result of a conservation strategy.

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Ms Anderson’s letter suggests walkers having to fight off lapwings, while being deafened by curlews, and any shortages of other birds being due to the efforts of merlins and hen harriers.

The sad reality is somewhat different: mile after mile of wasteland, where nothing but grouse and heather is allowed to survive, thanks to the efforts of the gamekeepers. People would be amazed to discover that public money is spent on subsidising environmental desolation.

Perhaps more amazing is that conservation groups, including the RSPB and government-funded bodies such as English Nature, collude in the myth that these artificially constructed biodiversity wastelands represent the successful conservation of a natural landscape.

Could this be another area where (bad) public policy is favouring the wealthy? The Moorland Association website says its 200 members own over a million acres of land. That means 10 square miles each, on average, which probably costs a bit. I’m sure a day’s grouse shooting doesn’t come cheap, so the way to make money from the moorland wilderness is to tame it, empty it of wildlife, reduce it to nothing but heather and grouse, and charge people to shoot at birds bred for the purpose. Readers can decide whether that is a good use of public subsidy.

Naturally, the landowners will continue to state their case. The people who should be ashamed of themselves are the conservation groups who fail to counter the falsehoods of the landowners.

Downside of a PR system

From: DM Loxley, Pinewood View, Hartoft, Pickering.

WHEN one looks at the proportion of total votes cast for each party in the recent General Election, it is easy to see why a simple proportional representation system might be considered “fair”. This tends to be the basis of the claims for PR lobbying. The consequences of such a simple PR system are left unconsidered.

Currently, members are elected under the auspices of a Statutory Instrument, the Representation of the People Act. Thus, within an electoral constituency, a relatively small proportion of the population has the individual right to appoint an MP of their own choice. It will not be the choice of everyone in that constituency but it will be of the majority of those who cast their vote. Each constituency has, thereby, its own personal elected Member.

Any PR system will deny this. A constituency MP will be appointed by in-fighting; drawing lots or a “preferred candidate” list made up by the inner cabal of the Party. A constituency will not have a choice of political colour let alone the personal identity of the member. The other smaller groups, of which there were about 28 this last time would be excluded. The chance of the individual voice in Parliament would be lost.

The most serious problem lies in the fact that since 1945 this country, United Kingdom, would never have had a stable government. No two political parties would have been able to form a workable coalition. There would have been chaos. In our current economic and fiscal state the very last thing we need to consider is instability.

MP rooted in community

From: D Boyes, Rodley, Leeds.

ALTHOUGH MANY people have praised the good work done by former Leeds East MP George Mudie, none so far have mentioned the fact that he was a true “local” representative.

Although born in Scotland, he came to Leeds, I believe, in his late teens as a Leeds corporation employee who became active in the old NALGO union, was a councillor, then leader, eventually becoming an MP.

Unlike so many other “career” politicians, George Mudie made his home and family life in Leeds and we can and should wish him a long, healthy and happy retirement. We should also wish that Leeds had more like him.

A victim of green policies

From: John Wainwright, Tingley.

THE closure of Ferrybridge power station is yet another needless concession to the green dreamers. Ferrybridge generates more electricity than a thousand of those monstrous wind turbines.

And it does so 24/7 instead of only 25 per cent of the time, and at a third of the unit cost (a quarter for the offshore versions). Of course we need a new source of power to replace coal, but we should only close stations like Ferrybridge when these new sources are up and running. Meanwhile India, China and much of the rest of Europe are opening new coal-fired power stations almost every week.

Stock up on candles and buy yourself a generator – you’re going to need them!