YP Letters: Time to take action over second homes

North Yorkshire and areas like swaledale are facing a housing crisis.
North Yorkshire and areas like swaledale are facing a housing crisis.
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From: Carl Lis, Chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority; Yvonne Peacock, Leader of Richmondshire District Council; Richard Foster, Leader of Craven District Council; Giles Archibald, Leader of South Lakeland District Council.

THANK you for your continued outstanding coverage of rural affairs. Since coining the term “rural exodus” in 2014, The Yorkshire Post has consistently shone a light on the challenges facing Dales communities, from the pressures faced by upland farmers to the critical shortage of affordable housing.

It was therefore heartening to see the Post back our joint efforts to retain and attract families and people of working age to live in the Dales – including the most controversial proposal so far, to lobby Government for the power to increase council tax substantially (by at least five times) on second homes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

This proposal is now at a critical stage. The National Park Authority gave its approval to take it forward just before Christmas. Now it is up to the eight constituent county and district councils in the park to make up their minds.

We want to stress that we have nothing against second home owners. Far from it. They love the Dales and make a contribution to the local economy. The problem is the impact of second home ownership. There are simply too many second homes in the National Park.

That these homes lie empty for most of the time is a terrible waste. The sharp growth in second home ownership during the past 20 years has pushed up house prices, denied dwellings to permanent residents and left some communities hollowed out.

More than anything, the rapidly shrinking primary school rolls – and indeed the closure of Horton-in-Ribblesdale school – has focussed minds. The moment has come to take action; if this proposal fails, it is unlikely that the negative impacts of second home ownership will be addressed again any time soon.

Burning wood is not green

From: Rohan Lewis, New Village Road, Cottingham.

ANOTHER article claims that Drax’s burning of wood pellets is “sustainable” (The Yorkshire Post, January 6).

Turning virgin forests of the Eastern USA into wood pellets, and using them to fuel turbines where most of the energy is sent into the atmosphere via cooling towers, is not sustainable.

The USA’s Natural Resources Defence Council concluded in 2015 that “forestry on private land in the South-East (USA) – which constitutes more than 80 per cent of forests in the region –is conducted with few restrictions and little oversight...only a tiny fraction is certified with the Forestry Stewardship Council”.

It is true that wood pellets can be a sustainable energy source – as evidenced by combined heat and power schemes in Europe fuelled from well-managed local forests – but this is a very far cry from what is going on at Drax.

From: Arthur Quarmby, Mill Moor Road, Meltham.

YOUR Picture Past issues remind older readers just how dirty and black our towns and cities were at the end of World War Two. The Leeds Town Hall was so sooty that in sunlight it glowed with a real velvety blackness.

The diesel engines of the slow, labouring buses and trucks of that time spewed out poisonous clouds; such a contrast to modern diesels. So those of us with long memories fail to get too excited about such small contamination, as might conceal itself in the clean-sparkling air or on the bright, cleaned buildings of today.

Give all a day to remember

From: John Barstow, Pulborough, West Sussex.

REMEMBRANCE Sunday 2018 falls exactly on November 11 (Armistice Day) and exactly 100 years to the day when the guns fell silent in the fields where the poppies grew.

There is hence a prima facie case for a Remembrance Sunday where more working people are able to partake in the events.

MPs and peers in Yorkshire would gain many plaudits were they to propose and sponsor a private members bill to legislate for retail closure on Remembrance Sunday 2018.

Don’t blame me for NHS

From: Barry Foster, High Stakesby, Whitby.

AS I now fall into the category of being a possible drain on the NHS – I am over 65 – I try to resist all the adverse media reports blaming us poor citizens.

But being so old I have not lost as yet my power to think in particular new ideas. One thought to improve the NHS finances is to charge all those drunks etc who litter many casualty departments and misuse ambulance services as well all those who fail appointments at their local GP Surgeries.

This ought to put millions in the coffers. Jeremy Hunt, please take note and stop blaming all us senior citizens.

Obedience or subservience?

From: Dave Roberts, Ontario Road, Scunthorpe.

BOB Watson (The Yorkshire Post, January 8) is very concerned that 84 per cent of Conservatives believe “schools should teach children to obey authority”, but only 31 per cent of Labour members back the idea.

“Obey” is a very strong word, defined in my dictionary as “do what one is told to do”. There are limited situations where such obedience is required such as the military, employment to some extent, and with young children.

The purpose of schools is to educate, i.e. to give knowledge, widen horizons and train their pupils to think for themselves.