YP Comment: Fracking: Think of the residents. Safeguards required at the outset

IT is imperative that the national debate about fracking, and whether this is the answer to the failure of successive governments to preside over a clear and coherent energy policy, does not lose sight of the concerns of families living in close proximity to proposed sites.

A fracking protest in Malton.

Take the Ryedale village of Kirby Misperton which finds itself on the fracking frontline – and where householders have already faced months of uncertainty because the application at the centre of this controversy has become extraordinarily complicated as meddlesome Ministers look to circumvent the rights of local councils to determine such schemes.

Even though there are those who contend that North Yorkshire should not spurn such commercial opportunities – its picture postcard scenes do mask hidden pockets of deep deprivation – there is clearly deep unease, as articulated by correspondents to this newspaper, about the environmental ramifications of fracking.

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As such, North Yorkshire County Council should be commended for producing such a thorough report on the relevant issues, like the creation of buffer zones between homes and drilling sites, and whether other remedial measures need to be considered.

It should not matter that the area in question is on the edge of the North York Moors national park. Irrespective of the location, councils such as North Yorkshire have a democratic duty to investigate such matters thoroughly.

Just because the plans 
are preliminary ones, and fears of industrial-scale fracking might yet prove groundless, does not negate this need. Quite the opposite. It makes it even more imperative for every possible eventuality and safeguard to be considered at the outset before any lasting damage is caused 
to the environment and 
area around Kirby Misperton.

An insult too far: Cellino’s son must be punished for disabled slur

THE extent to which attitudes towards the disabled have changed, and largely for the better, was exemplified by the successful staging of the 2012 Paralympics in London. The greatest games in the movement’s history, and at which Yorkshire’s very own Hannah Cockroft announced herself to the world, they continue to have a positive impact on society, whether it be Prince Harry’s inspirational Invictus Games for injured war heroes or the backlash when George Osborne tried to cut welfare payments for the handicapped and incapacitated in the Budget.

Yet the good work of so many continues to be undone on occasion by a moronic minority, whether it be able-bodied motorists who selfishly park in bays reserved for the disabled, or Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino’s youthful son Edoardo, a director of the club, responding to provocation by a critical supporter by labelling the fan in question as a “spastic” during a social media row which has prompted the FA to press its own disciplinary charges.

That the Cellino family hail from Sardinia offers no excuse for using disparaging terms that belong to a bygone age. They have been involved with Leeds United long enough to appreciate any cultural differences between Yorkshire and Italy. They have also been at the helm of Elland Road long enough to realise that the owners of such clubs have a moral duty to set a good example in their local community.

If the Cellino family cannot abide by this, the onus will have to be on the footballing authorities to issue a sanction which shows to owners, directors, players and fans alike that no circumstance will ever justify the use of such insensitive language.

Trump trumped: Is the world in debt to Wisconsin?

IF you thought politics was at a low ebb on this side of the Atlantic, it is even worse in the United States where the most spiteful – and uninspiring – presidential election in history continues to bring out the worst in those candidates who seem to be under the misapprehension that they’re competing in a ghastly reality TV show rather than the right to lead a supposed beacon of democracy in a troubled world.

At least the people of Wisconsin have, however, made it more difficult for the outrageous tycoon Donald Trump to win the Republican nomination.

Even if this increases the likelihood of a contested convention this July in which the party of Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan coalesces around a compromise candidate, it is surely preferable to a loose cannon of a candidate whose deeply offensive campaign is a reflection of widespread disillusionment with America’s broken politics. It can’t get this bad here, can it?