I’M grateful to the Examiner for so clearly highlighting my concerns about particulates from the proposed open-cast operation near Clayton West (‘Songwriter’s fears about new open-cast mine’ Examiner July 19).

I’m sure there are others with existing respiratory problems who have similar concerns about the proposed project.

I am grateful for Mr Harrison’s assurance that he will take very seriously the issue of dust around the site and that he plans to take steps to prevent it becoming a problem to local residents, but his categorical statement that “Dust will not be a problem at all” worries me.

Even if the prevailing wind may be towards High Hoyland, on the day after I first heard about the proposal, I was standing in the garden and the wind was most definitely coming quite strongly from the direction of the proposed site.

If I understand it correctly, the very fine clay and coal particulates involved in open-cast projects can rise a long way into the atmosphere and be carried substantial distances and the debate is only about how far they travel.

A 500 metre buffer zone between open-cast operations and nearby settlements has already been introduced in Scotland and Wales, and there are moves to introduce this in England as well. This surely must indicate that there is some risk – at least in the immediate vicinity.

Even if we accept that there may be a low statistical likelihood of dust reaching Clayton West on a regular basis, can Mr Harrison really say that dust will never be a problem at all? Even if his company is monitoring the situation closely, it takes time to respond to the discovery of a problem, and in the meantime local residents will inevitably suffer.

And just because the site is at a distance from the village of Clayton West does not mean it will have no impact on the health of the villagers. Many go for walks or exercise animals in the fields around the proposed site – the physical edge of the village is not the limit of occupation.

Despite Mr Harrison’s assurances, organisations such as Coal Action Scotland include studies on their website that suggest that “Extracting and burning coal carries real health risks to those who mine it, those who live near coal mines and power plants, and those downwind and downstream from coal operations”.

How does the average resident without technical knowledge reconcile this with Mr Harrison’s claims? Even if it is true that there is no evidence that dust will be an issue, lack of evidence does not prove the lack of a problem. The problem may not have been discovered yet.

At one time there was no evidence of the dangers of coal dust or asbestos, yet many people suffered and died before the risks became clear.

Someone I spoke to this week had reconciled themselves to this proposal because they thought it was an underground mine. They were quite shocked to realise that it was to be an open-cast quarry.

I’m concerned that many more local residents are not really fully aware of what this scheme potentially involves.

Phil Maybury

Clayton West

Let everywhere bloom

ON my travels around Kirklees, it appears that the council has different standards for ground maintenance for the approaches to roundabouts and dual carriageways between the east and west side of Kirklees.

The west of the area, that is Huddersfield, is very good in the spring with the bulb planting scheme producing a wonderful display of flowers.

However, I have noticed that in the Batley and Spenborough areas that the planted areas seem to have been abandoned.

For example Chain Bar; Bradford Road, Cleckheaton; A64 Halifax Road, Scholes and Leeds Road, Dewsbury to name just a few.

This means that the spring flowers won’t be seen next spring, as they will be lost amongst the long grass.

What a shame!

Surely the council should be working to the same standards throughout all the Kirklees area.

Retired Gardener


The hazards of cyclists

WE keep being told by the cycling fraternity that motorists show them no respect while on the road, so I feel I would like to make an observation about a couple of things I have seen being done by cyclists.

I would point out that I am in no way anti-cyclist, but I see so many adult cyclists riding on pavements not showing lights.

In the last few months I have observed cyclists riding with headphones on, surely this should be illegal as ipods tend to make you oblivious to what’s going on around you, such as approaching traffic coming up behind them. And as bikes tend to have no rearview mirrors this has to be a very dangerous practice.

Lenny L

Southowram, Halifax

Who to give to?

CANCER Research, the British Heart Foundation, hospitals, schools, care homes, emergency services, nurses, leukaemia and numerous others in need of money.

Now let’s start an appeal for these instead of sending millions to Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, etc. who get this every year and nothing changes.

Yes I feel sorry for them, but let’s look after this country’s problems first.

Ian Bradshaw


Worker’s wages

FOR a time now there has been those who have echoed the mantras of the pro-government press by declaring how public sector workers have greater wages, pensions and conditions than those in the private sector.

The recent strike at David Brown has shown that this is not necessarily the case.

When I heard that the workers at Browns had declined a 2.5% pay offer I thought wow, when did council workers get an offer like that?

Local authority workers have had a pay freeze for the past five years which, with the rise of tax, prices and housing costs, constitutes a wage cut. The fact of the matter is that all workers deserve a decent living wage and a halt to the real term pay cuts of the past period and whether we work for the private, public or voluntary sector we must all work together for a better deal.

The politics of solidarity must replace the politics of envy and spite that the government and its press tries to foster.

Ian Brooke


Parking charges

IF you think it unfair to have to pay to park outside your own home when you have already paid your council tax, then don’t, park outside someone else’s.

Someone who has also paid their council tax but doesn’t have to pay to park outside their own home, and if you are like me, one who’s car is at work during the day and is only parked here for the last hour of restricted parking. That’s what I shall be doing.

Allen Jenkinson


Action needed

I’M sure that we’re all most grateful for the physics lesson from A L Jones (Mailbag July 25).

However, the actual ‘whizz-kid’ slogan was “Speed thrills, but kills!”

The abrupt change in kinetic energy to which he refers is not some spectacular act-of-God but, as he quite rightly states, is created by idiocy on the part of either the driver or the pedestrian. Better to have a speed limit to attempt to counteract either mistake than run up an even greater death toll on the roads.

Yes, we’ve all seen stupid driving – not all by younger drivers either – and careless pedestrians.

Nevertheless, action has to be taken where there is a clear and repeated accident danger.

On the other hand, there are many places within the Kirklees area where such danger is ignored by the Highways engineers – a perfect example is at the notorious A629/A635 crossroads at Sovereign, Shepley where the speed limit has actually been increased.

Stupid or what?



Speed needs control

REGARDING the letter on speeding from A L Jones.

I had a friend, sadly no longer with us, who always maintained that speed does not kill it is the failure to control speed that kills.

If you examine this statement you can see that there is a lot of truth in it. When people are learning to drive, the lessons are always at a sedate speed. Once the test is passed there is no facility locally for driving a vehicle at high speed ie a race track.

For most people driving on the motorway is the first introduction to high speed. But the question is this satisfactory should there be a speed test as part of the vehicle test.

It is well known that some people are good at driving and controlling a vehicle at high speed but I would think that a large percentage are not happy driving at a high speed.

Always remember the failure to control your speed could kill.

The Old Almondburian