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Letters, January 20: Ed Davey on energy supplies; hunt for Owen Patterson and tidal gates could ease water levels

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: January 20, 2014

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Wind is vital to our energy supply

Your article on onshore wind subsidies (Daily Press, January 13) didn't paint the full picture.

Support paid for onshore wind in the UK is lower than many other countries (such as Poland, Brazil, Italy and Japan).

For decades other countries pumped money into getting clean energy off the ground while we were focused on fossil fuels. Now, to establish a secure and affordable electricity supply, we need government support to develop renewables and the financial support required is falling as costs fall.

Onshore wind is currently one of the cheapest large-scale renewable technologies, and we cut support rates by 10 per cent in April 2013, in line with falling costs.

Support will be cut more in the future. The final "strike prices" for new onshore wind projects will be lower in each year than the prices we consulted on over the summer, and the maximum support rates are set to fall still further in 2017.

Moreover, we are also looking to move to "competitive allocation" for more established renewable technologies, such as onshore wind, sooner than previously announced which will mean onshore wind would have to compete on cost in order to be considered for a contract.

Wind is a vital contributor to our energy supply and met 6.6 per cent of our electricity needs last year – reaching 10 per cent in December – helping us reduce emissions and meet carbon targets.

Edward Davey

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

Flood group launches hunt for Paterson

Please can you help us find Owen Paterson. We think he may be lost. We know he has been heading to Somerset, after a second successive year of devastation from flooding. A couple of days ago he turned up in Glasgow. Yes he is clearly lost!

We know Somerset is a small county, an insignificant pimple really, so perhaps he can't find it on the map? Or perhaps he can't work out how to find his way to the water's edge. Most of the edges have joined up to form one great lake so perhaps that's not surprising.

Or maybe , bless, he thinks it's a long way away, at the furthest reaches of the Piccadilly Line. God forbid it must be wild and dangerous that far out of London. Maybe he's heading past Hounslow as we speak still expecting to get off at Yeovil?

We know Owen cares and we know he's just got himself lost. So if you do see Owen, could you please point him in the right direction?

There's loads of people down here who'd really like to see him, but tell him to bring some wellies and a boat....

Andrew Lee

Stop The Floods

Welcome on board but you're a bit late

I was disillusioned to receive, as a parish councillor, an exhortation from Councillor John Osman's press office to "like" his Facebook page (fairerfundingforSomerset) "demanding government support to prevent further major floods".

Mr Osman is desperate to catch a long-departed bandwagon realising that his scorched-earth policies at County Hall have left no budget for local defence initiatives and embarrassed that charities like the Somerset Communities Foundation have taken up his slack by providing grants.

Long before the heavens opened and Mr Osman was panicked into action, Tessa Munt MP brought Richard Benyon – then minister in charge of Water and Rural Affairs – to meet a representative group of farmers at Theale. The constructive criticism they provided has informed recent reports and should be the basis for a local initiative that either lights a rocket under the Environment Agency or replaces it with the traditional "lock-keepers" of the Levels – those farmers closest to the Parrett, the Tone and the Brue, who know how to mitigate the flooding so that there is less lasting damage to land and property.

The situation we are facing now is not new. To imply that it is, as Mr Osman does, insults our intelligence and brands him as yet another opportunist politician seeking to make personal capital out of public misery.

Yes, please, let's have government support for flood defences and dredging – but let's have it because it is the right thing to do, and has been for a very long time; not because an ambitious local politician is covering up his late appreciation of the problem by kicking it upstairs.

Christopher Inge

Wookey parish councillor, Somerset

Tidal gates could help water levels

I seem to remember the Environment Agency attempting some half-hearted dredging of the Parrett about 12 years ago. This consisted of using a long-reach excavator (on a barge I believe) scooping mud from the banks into the middle of the channel where the outgoing tide would carry it down to the Bristol Channel. Of course, the hydrology of the area being what it is the next tide brought most of it back again and the effect seems to have been negligible!

Unfortunately for the proponents of wholesale dredging of the rivers, I suspect that even if the Parrett had been fully cleared this would not have prevented much of the flooding which has recently taken place, mainly due to a combination of high tides, strong winds and heavy rain. What it would have done is allow more water to drain to the sea during lower tides and probably alleviated the distress of those living in such places as Muchelney a lot quicker than at present.

Some years ago there was a suggestion mooted to install some tidal gates on the river at a point below Bridgwater, the intention being to maintain a certain water level along the Parrett and possibly open up various waterways to navigation. Another benefit of such an idea would be making the river flow in one direction only, with the result that silt would not be washed in from the Bristol Channel and (hopefully) the riverbed would be less prone to silting up. Perhaps the EA could give this some consideration?

A Carter

Wellington, Somerset

Town used to be a nice place to live

When I grew up in Yeovil in the 1960s and 70s it was a nice place to live.

The times have changed but not for the better.

Name and address supplied

Cats are making a mess of my garden

In reply to Mr Williams of Corsham, Wiltshire's, letter (Daily Press January 9) "Cats are not vermin", I am also a Corsham resident. I have six different cats coming through my garden.

I am not saying they all use it as their toilet but my vegetable plot gets used, lawn etc. They do not even bother to dig a hole these days, ugh! So this OAP has to clean up after them.

Name and address with held

(I don't want to upset any neighbours)

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