SIR – I am astonished at the negative reception given to the Prime Minister's announcement of a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035 ( Letters, February 7 ).
Britain has always had the ability to lead the way and, freed from the shackles of the European Union and with a Conservative Party no longer riven by the European issue and enjoying a thumping parliamentary majority, I see no reason why this plan should not succeed.
Banning is not usually the preferred way of doing things, but we are in a crisis that needs to be tackled sooner rather than later.
SIR – The making of a new vehicle, however much better for the environment it may be, creates more pollution than an old, polluting car would ever make in its lifetime.
If the Government were really serious about the climate, it would ban the manufacture of all new vehicles of any kind, and ban the importing of new ones, too.
Encouraging the motor industry to retrofit older vehicles with cleaner motors is the way forward; not blasting holes in the ground and using vast 50-ton diesel vehicles to haul the result to belching foundries.
For once, make do and mend really could save the planet.
SIR – The Government should recognise that there is far less carbon in a carrot than a stick.
SIR – While self-charging hybrids are not much use except for short, stop-start journeys, such as local taxi work, plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) can be almost as efficient as fully electric vehicles when used properly.
We owned a PHEV for almost four years and rarely visited a petrol garage, since at least 90 per cent of our journeys were shorter than the 25-mile battery range.
The problem has arisen because company-car drivers take advantage of the low benefit-in-kind rate and use the car inappropriately, driving long distances when it is less efficient than a conventional vehicle, and sometimes ignoring the battery altogether.
The answer is to reverse the current arrangement and make employees pay petrol costs and companies subsidise electricity. This would help to ensure that hybrids are used in the way for which they were designed.
SIR – Nick Martinek ( Letters, February 7 ) ignores the efficiency advantage that electromotive systems have over internal combustion engines.
Taking this into account, we only need seven new Hinkley Point C power stations in the next 15 years, not 20. So that's all right, then.
Bird pest control
SIR – Last April a legal challenge by Wild Justice, an anti-shooting campaign group, forced Natural England to suspend the general licences under which crows, wood pigeons and other avian pests could be controlled.
At a time when the countryside was full of nests with eggs and fledgling birds, young lambs were vulnerable to attack by corvids, and fields contained emerging crops, this had far-reaching consequences for wildlife and farmers. Wild Justice blamed Natural England for the timing of the suspension.
It now transpires that Wild Justice has initiated legal proceedings in a bid to achieve the same results in Wales. By seeking to inhibit the control of avian predators and pests at this time of year, their true colours could not be clearer.
They are anything but the conservationists they claim to be.
SIR – On December 19 last year, my car was broken into and my work and personal iPads stolen. I reported the thefts online and included CCTV footage that clearly showed the two perpetrators trying various cars.
This was the second such theft; the first time, despite being called while the break-in was in progress, the police hadn't bothered to attend.
This time, a signal was generated by my company iPad, which showed its whereabouts, so I called the police and gave them the address. I was told someone would get back to me. I asked if that meant no officer would go to the address and the operator said: "To be honest, it's very unlikely."
I went there myself. Some would say I was fortunate that the people in the flat wouldn't open the door. The signal was live for 16 hours and the first call I received from the Met was two weeks later. The officer who rang blamed lack of resources. I replied that police choose to use resources for high-profile things, such as sending 8,000 officers to the Notting Hill carnival.
Police spend so much time building bridges with minority communities in the hope of a positive press that they neglect the majority, who are being robbed blind in their absence.
SIR – My locked bicycle was stolen from a stand at the local railway station, which has video surveillance.
I reported this to the police. Because of the cameras, they knew the exact time and appearance of the culprit. When I asked to see this video evidence I was told that it was impossible, due to data security.
Is it surprising that we lose our respect for the police?
SIR – As a lifelong tennis fan, my 85-year-old mother has fallen foul of the new Wimbledon online ticket ballot system.
She doesn't have a computer or an email address. I created an email for her for this very purpose but didn't regularly check the inbox until Thursday, as we had been notified that our own application had been unsuccessful. I then found that she had been successful but the payment window had expired at midnight.
She has never had a problem with the postal vote and would happily send a cheque if she was lucky in the ballot.
This new system is ageist and discriminates against genuine fans who are not tech-savvy.
Child safety online
SIR – The Government's upcoming online harms legislation ( report, February 6 ) presents a real opportunity to make Britain a world leader in children's safety online.
By standing up to some of the world's biggest companies, Boris Johnson can reassure families that their children's safety will be prioritised when social media sites are being designed and developed. This will only be successful if we see a duty-of-care model that introduces a regulator with the power to find companies responsible if they put children at risk on their platforms.
The regulator must be able to impose hefty fines and hold individual directors criminally accountable. Only then will Silicon Valley finally take child protection seriously.
SIR – While I agree with the thrust of Dr Mark Campbell-Roddis's thesis ( Letters, February 6 ), he misses the point about the two new aircraft carriers.
The potency of an aircraft carrier is defined by the strength of the "air wing", and this is where our two ships are to be found wanting. The USS Nimitz can host 130 F18 strike/attack air-defence capable aircraft. Additionally, onboard air-to-air refuelling aircraft are available.
The Queen Elizabeth carriers have no such overarching capability. The F35B lacks range and payload. Support can only be offered by helicopters. These ships will not have Russia's Vladimir Putin or any other potential foe worried, and are thus rendered strategically worthless.
Wg Cdr Jeremy Parr RAF (retd)
Party time past
SIR – By deeming Proust's chief literary subject to be "partying", John MacInerney ( Letters, February 6 ) demonstrates an unusual idea of what constitutes a party.
The many social gatherings described in A la recherche du temps perdu chiefly feature people in various salons chatting aimlessly while sipping tea. Occasionally the action shifts to a restaurant or hotel, but invariably the central character has to retire early due to poor health. Somehow Proust manages to turn this unpromising subject matter into an electrifying read.
Why Victoria admired Florence Nightingale
SIR – The exhibition on Florence Nightingale's later life ( report, February 3 ) should give prominence to Queen Victoria's deep and lasting admiration of her.
"I envy her being able to do so much good," Victoria wrote during the Crimean War. The pair met in 1856. Expecting to encounter a battleaxe, the Queen was enchanted to find the now famous nurse was modest and demure, "refusing all public acclaim". The sorrowing monarch roused herself from her widow's seclusion in 1868 to open St Thomas's Hospital in London "for Miss Nightingale".
The bond between them was further strengthened when, a few days later, news arrived that two nurses trained by Nightingale and sent to Sydney Infirmary had ensured the recovery of the Queen's favourite son, Prince Alfred, after an assassination attempt in Australia.
Recalling her indebtedness to the Lady with the Lamp, the Queen insisted that money sent to her by the public for her Golden Jubilee in 1887 should be used to establish the Queen's Jubilee Nursing Institute, the world's first professional nursing organisation.
She would have been appalled by the refusal of her successor, Edward VII, to include the legendary figure in the new Order of Merit, which he created in 1902. "Women are not eligible," he insisted. He eventually gave way in 1907 after the prime minister, Henry Campbell‑Bannerman, had lectured him about "the revolution which her services and example effected". It was as Florence Nightingale OM that??she died in 1910.
Stop coronavirus by halting flights from China
SIR – Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, claims that "the safety and security of British people will always be our top priority" ( "Foreign Office urges British nationals to leave China as coronavirus spreads", report, February 4 ).
The Government is right to be concerned about the possibility of a pandemic overwhelming an already stressed NHS. Although the death rate outside China remains lower than for Sars and Mers, a high percentage of those infected require intensive medical care. The virus also appears to be highly infectious. In light of this, it is inexplicable that flights from China to Britain have not been halted and that all those arriving in Britain who have travelled to China within the past 14 days are not subject to enforced quarantine or denied entry. Given that the China land border with Hong Kong remains open, halting flights from Hong Kong might also be appropriate.
The British Government has been complacent and negligent in not following the recent practice of many other countries. Its actions do not match Mr Raab's words.
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