Letters, June 13, 2013

Climate change is not happening

SIR – I would like to highlight to your readers some misleading and false statements in Tony Crooks’ letters of April 25 and May 9 on “climate change”.

Firstly the above average claim for the past 28 years in global temperature data. They are clever statistics to use as they suggest that temperatures must still be rising.

However the 20th-Century average he was referring to is a measure taken for the years 1960-1990. An above-average figure can be claimed even though, for example, it was 0.6 per cent above in 1985 and only 0.1 per cent in 2012. In other words, falling temperatures. It’s a bit like “Mike’s Nature Trick”, it hides the decline.

Tony cannot ask why temperatures are still rising because according to the Met Office themselves, it hasn’t since 1998! This may come as news to many of you as it was quietly slipped out last year. They even predict now that it is unlikely to in the next five years also. If so it will be 20 years of non-warming, about the same as the years 1980-2000, which got them all going down this path.

As for the Arctic sea ice loss.Again you only hear half the story. Firstly the South Polar ice cap is growing and had been by around two per cent a year for some years now. Secondly the winter Arctic ice formation is breaking records now.

As for the feedback argument, a warmer world would likely cause more global cloud cover which is overall cooling.

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It is this solar cloud linking which alters climate I believe as it is far more powerful than CO2 on its own.

In fact it may surprise Tony and David Allan that in the years 1980-2000, global cloud cover (albedo) was reduced by some four per cent.

This was enough on its own to have caused the warming signal that CO2 was blamed for.

The stalling of warming since 1998, at least, goes against the computer models’ predictions. It seems to me that these models that the UN and IPCC so heavily rely on are about as good as the ones the banks used to draw up their clever ‘Ninja’ loans schemes! We’re paying heavily for that too.


Orchard Avenue, Harpenden

SIR – I see you have published another letter from Tony Crook, the subject again being his assertion on global warming. (Herts Advertiser, May 30).

In the hope of a balance of reporting on this subject, may I please point out some key facts which your readers might find interesting.

1) There has been no global warming since 1997. The source of this is the Met Office themselves in January 2012;

2) Average temperature can still be above a mean measurement even when temperatures are falling;

3) The period of warming from around 1980-2000 had a combination of natural cycles working together, not least ocean cycles, reduced global cloud cover and solar peaks;

4) Ice at the South Pole is increasing every year. Arctic sea ice is increasing during its winter.

I have kept this letter brief for your space but if anyone needs to know facts and figures, I will gladly respond on this.


Bury Cottages, Flamsteadbury,


Thanks for your honesty

SIR – I was recently visiting relations in Harpenden. Whilst there I lost my small purse. I reported it to the police but really didn’t expect to see it again. How wrong I was. An honest shopper had turned in the purse, intact, to the local authorities. It gave me so much pleasure – not for the purse and contents but for the fact it was returned.

I would like to thank that honest citizen. Their act also benefitted other people. I asked my relative to donate the contents to a local charity. I guess you could call that the ‘ripple effect”.

Thank you again “honest citizen”.



Barking up the wrong tree

SIR – I had to laugh when I read the report in the Herts Ad of May 30 regarding the possible felling of trees at St Albans Station.

What a hoo-hah about nothing! Apparently First Capital Connect (FCC) plans to cut down seven trees separating the station car park from Ridgmont Road due to excess ivy growth... and why not!?

Trees have their place in forests, green fields and parks. To claim they add biodiversity to an area used by daily commuting carparkers spending their day in London offices though is pure hogwash.

Who, out of all your readers, has visited the Ridgmont Road car park once in their life and thought, “uhm, don’t those lovely ivy-clad trees enhance the biodiversity of this area and make my parking experience a lot more pleasant for it. Oh, how wonderful that they screen the train noise for nearby residents too!”

I have news for such tree huggers – there has been a train line running through St Albans for 150 years and people who choose to live near rail lines expect and understand that noise levels will be higher than an ordinary quiet residential street! In any event, most nearby residents are out at work when the majority of FCC’s trains are rolling by.

In my view, some trees, particularly those in close proximity to people’s houses and gardens are an unalloyed nuisance. Their roots cause damage, their leaves block up gutters, their unkempt limbs cast shade over gardens and homes and in the case of conifers, well we all know about my views on the High Hedges legislation which means an ASBO can be served on uncaring, unthinking neighbours who stupidly and unthinkingly allow their Leylandii to grow unabated towards the heavens.

Whoever believes that the sycamore trees in Ridgmont Road are going to assist with local flooding and act as noise pollution absorbers simply has something else going on in their head apart from common sense. Sycamores cast deep shade, throw tons of tree sap droplets onto nearby cars ruining paintwork and cause untold sludge on paths and roads underneath them due to their helicopter seed husks which float merrily down blocking drains and verges which we Council Tax payers pay the council to clear up. Vandalism? I’d call culling the overgrown buggers plain common sense. Now where’s that chainsaw!?


Green Lane (a road clogged with too many overgrown and unkempt trees!)

St Albans

FCC explain tree felling decision

SIR – With reference to your article ‘FCC accused of vandalism over station tree felling’, we have no wish to upset any residents living close to the station and empathise with their desire not to lose the green screen provided by the trees in our Ridgmont Road car park.

Our number one concern is for the safety of those walking or driving under the trees. The aim of our application, which is based on a report by a horticultural specialist, is to improve the crown structure of the mature and healthy trees, remove any deadwood and as much of the heavy ivy growth as possible and thus improve the appearance of the trees.

Rest assured, no work will be carried out without formal agreement by the council and we undertake that we would only remove a tree if it was unhealthy and would then plant another tree in a position to be agreed with local residents and the council’s arboricultural officers.

St Albans City station is a major gateway to the city itself and we are working with St Albans City and District Council to make it a welcoming environment with trees a key component in achieving that.

You can see from the various cycle parking projects that we have carried out in the station forecourt and in Station Way in the last couple of years that all have been designed to retain the existing trees so that they can flourish.


Communications Manager

First Capital Connect

Respect our city’s memorials

SIR – It was good to read (Herts Advertiser, May 23) that some of the city’s street memorials are to be restored, in particular the one at 15 High Street alongside Waxhouse Gate.

So please could the two ‘A’ boards, permanently chained to a post, advertising a nearby restaurant and so partially obscuring the memorial, be removed?

I am aware the restaurant’s owners do not mean to give any offence but it doesn’t look very good now, nor for the coming centenary of the start of World War I.

Let’s show respect for those named and this unique piece of St Albans’ heritage.


Fishpool Street, St Albans

Cycling debate shifts up a gear

SIR – John Lindgreen points out that there are a small number of bad cyclists – this is true, though due to their smaller size implications of bad cyclists’ transgressions are usually worse for the cyclists than other people involved.

The myth I reffered to was the allusion that all people who ride bikes are badly behaved – in fact the huge majority of people who ride bikes do so responsibly. Sadly it’s human nature to remember the bad behaviour of a few because they are noticable and it’s good media and political fodder to use this minority as a description of the many.

People who regularly ride bikes on our busier local roads, like myself and John Lindgreen, are largely those who can cope with the traffic situation as it is. We do this in a roadscape where road design is dominated by provision for motor vehicles and little is done for bicycles.

Cyclists represent two-five per cent of daily journeys around St Albans but the cycling budget on highways is less than two per cent of the total spend, hardly an equitable division of investment. Put in Mr Lindgreen’s terms, the highways are largely designed to give preferntial use to motorised users rather than people on bikes.

As a consequence of this underinvestment, cycling – though mainly risk free and more healthy than many other modes of transport – is more dangerous than it should be, with the results we see at the Catherine Street roundabout.

Research shows that the perception of danger puts some people off riding a bike, and if we are to address congestion in our city by increasing active travel like cycling and walking we need to ovecome the percetion of danger by making our roads better for cyclists.

Regardless of our mode of transport, we all pay taxes at a local and national level which go towards road building so it’s right that improvements for cyclists are implemented to benefit both existing cyclists and those who are put off by the design and maintenance of our roads.

We don’t know the design of the new roundabout, so it’s a little early to tell if roadspace will be dedicated to one mode or another. Given the lack of space I’d doubt we’ll see parts of the carriageway dedicated to bicycles. What I’m hoping for is a junction which is safer for cyclists.


Pondfield Crescent, St Albans

SIR – I don’t think there is anything more that I can say about the ridiculously expensive and wholly inappropriate development that was supposed to ensure controlled and safer cycling around Verulamium Park, certainly nothing more than the esteemed J A Lidington has not already scribed to your readers on this subject.

However, as a resident of St Albans for over 40 years and having spent half of those years walking past the Roman Wall on an almost daily basis, I have to voice my particular concerns People come to our park from distant places and foreign shores, they come to be amazed by the heritage and the history, to see the Roman city and its imposing fortifications and beautiful mosaic encased within the emerald jewel that is Verulamium Park.

People do not come from far and wide to be astounded by our new cycle paths. So why has the thing that is really important to our future, namely our past – our Roman Wall – been so neglected and forgotten by its people? This unique attraction that draws so many to our beautiful city seems to have been usurped by a somewhat gravelly and vaguely humpy attempt at creating cycle space.

To illustrate this subjugation I have three specific concerns. Our new wider and more “cycle friendly” causeway actually chops into the Roman Gateway leaving its foundation exposed in a rather incongruous and disrespectful fashion.

Secondly, there is the use of the now unprotected Roman battlements as both a climbing and mountain biking facility, resulting in the erosion and destruction of its very ancient fabric.

Lastly there are the signs of general neglect and lack of investment, with weeds allowed to grow on the face of the wall forcing the lime mortar apart and causing the shedding of the flint and brick beauty of our Roman fortification.

Rather than the many hundreds of thousands of pounds in the creation of our ineffective and insignificant cycle path, what has to happen, within the membership of our local authority, to ensure they invest our hard earned tax more wisely, more inclusively and far less controversially, in our history, our heritage and in our wall?


Eaton Road, St Albans

Our crowded skies

SIR – It is most fortunate for your correspondent Steve Pryor, who lives reasonably near me in Harpenden, that he is unable to hear more than a few overflying aircraft.

If he is interested, below is a list of overflying flights I personally heard today, June 4, during easterly operations (all times are BST) between 06:35 and 16:00hrs.

06:35, 06:47, 07:09, 07:17, 07:20, 07:21, 07:33, 07:30, 07:37, 07:39, 07:41, 07:42, 07:48, 08:05, 08:15, 08:20, 08:22, 08:44, 12:06, 12:09, 12:13, 12:35, 12:42, 12:46, 12:47, 12:56, 13:01, 13:04, 13:14, 13:16, 13:21, 13:25, 13:31, 13:33, 15:52.

Obviously, I did not note all the flights during the hours of 06:35-16:00, as I was out for part of the day. Some of these flights are not to/from Luton Airport, but overflying flights to/from other UK airports.

However, if he is not convinced about the number of aircraft which fly over Harpenden and wants a fuller picture on a daily basis, he should go to http://www.flightradar24.com/ where he can track in real time (UTC) those flights over Harpenden which he is unable, for some strange reason, to hear.

The site identifies such useful information as the airline, flight number, aircraft type and registration, route, heading, altitude and airspeed.

During westerly operations, we are less likely to be subjected to the same number of overflying aircraft, as Luton take-off aircraft generally merge into their destination flightpaths elsewhere and arriving aircraft approach over the Stevenage area.


Aldwickbury Crescent, Harpenden

SIR – Many of us living north of St Albans or south of Harpenden will have mourned the end of Luton Airport’s RNAV1 trial which has seen the return of flights and aircraft noise over the bank holiday weekend.

The good news is that the start of the trial was disrupted by a change in the prevailing wind direction. This means that aircraft take off in an easterly rather than westerly direction and on these days both Harpenden and St Albans suffer much less noise. Of course, residents of Stevenage suffer much more.

As a result of the disruption the first part of the trial is being run again between May 25 and June 20. As before not all of the airlines are participating.

Moving the flight path to try and overfly the areas of lowest population density may help with the noise impact but it will not address the road and rail congestion that we will suffer if Luton Airport is allowed to double in size.

Can I encourage anyone who noticed an increase in aircraft noise over the bank holiday or has noticed a reduction in noise since to contact Luton Airport on Rnav@ltn.aero or by phoning 01582 395699.


Save Our Skies St Albans

Soothouse Spring, St Albans

SIR – Further to correspondence in your newspaper regarding aircraft from Luton Airport flying over Harpenden, may I commend to your readers the website www.flightradar24.com

This shows, in real time, aircraft arriving and taking off at many airports and in which direction they are flying as well as their destinations. On a fine day one can literally see them in the sky above as they appear on the computer screen.


Salisbury Road, Harpenden

Rail freight questions

SIR – There is growing evidence of bad practices by politicians dealing with lobbyists. Perhaps a review of “minded”government agreement to build a rail freight depot on 300 acres of Green Belt is due, particularly who was involved?


Warren Road, St Albans

Red tape hitting community events

SIR – I share the sentiments expressed in your editorial (Herts Advertiser, June 6). It is very sad indeed that the traditional procession through Harpenden`s town centre leading to the annual Round Table Carnival in the Park was for whatever reason scrapped.

Hundreds of happy people have in the past always lined the High Street with Scouts, Brownies and imaginative floats taking part. Round Table has always worked hard to get a show on the road for the benefit of the town and loads of charities.

Our whole community loses out when events like this no longer take place.

The stated reason is that there has been a lack of volunteers to organise and police the parade. It is almost exactly the position that could face the organisers of the Christmas Carnival later this year. It is not so much a lack of enthusiasm but all the red tape, risk assessments, health and safety and insurance requirements that ever more have to be complied with.

Even more relevant is the fact that due to cutbacks our police who in the past have assisted with control of the parade with genuine help for the community are no longer able to offer anything other than minimal assistance.

What are the options? The parade has to be policed by a separate Traffic Management Team, the cost of which could be around £5,000.When I look back on years of happy parades, through all weathers, sunshine, rain, snow, wind and the like, with only a few inconvenienced motorists it is such a sad reflection of the drift of modern life.

The Christmas Carnival will definitely continue thanks to the on-going efforts of the volunteers who had set up the Big Night Out a few years back. This was switched to a Sunday, combining it with the council’s switching on of the town’s Christmas lights. This is now widely recognised not only as the most popular Christmas event in the whole county but a great family occasion that last year drew around 12,000 into the town centre during the day.

However to cope with the onerous tasks of risk assessments, safety issues, etc., the voluntary committee has become part of a very professional town council working party under the chairmanship of the Town Mayor. The committee has always run a very tight ship thanks to generous local sponsorship and much voluntary work, festivals. Nothing will change and ways will undoubtedly be found to deal with parade restrictions.

All of this needs a mind set and a determination not to be deterred by the ever-increasing obstacles, red tape and cutbacks that seem to be placed in the way of so many similar event organisers. In no way does this mean cutting corners but it does mean approaching such tasks imaginatively as well as in a most professional manner.

Our town centre is the hub of our community. A thriving centre with busy cafés and shops is boosted by popular community events, parades and carnivals alike – everyone benefits. As is so rightly stressed in your editorial our community will be much poorer if town centre events like these for whatever reason no longer take place.


Clarence Road, Harpenden

Of cows and volleyball

SIR – With regards to the cattle of Bricket Wood common, the St Albans District Council spin machine makes it all sound idyllic. However, the more cynical souls among us might ask what actual evidence is there that eight cows a-grazing will achieve the desired result of clearing the common of young trees?

Of course, SADC’s standard response to such inconvenient questioning of their actions is: “We don’t need to prove anything. If we say it is, then it is.”

Never mind, we now have a nice new sandpit – sorry, I mean volleyball court – to complement the cycle racetrack in Verulamium. I wonder which member of the council wants to play beach volleyball?

So does the council intend that all the walkers/dog owners/horse riders displaced from Bricket Wood take their exercise on Verulamium.

Government policy is that horse riders (and presumably pedestrians) must be allowed to use cycle paths, so I just need to teach my dog to play volleyball!


Eastmoor Park, Harpenden

County must back new train loop

SIR – It comes as no surprise that the Abbey Flyer tram plan has been scrapped. As suspected by many users of the line, this scheme was progressed without a proper business case, was a short term measure at a very high cost, and would have cut the branch line off the main line into London forever.

However all is not lost, The re-signalling at Watford Junction, due to be completed in December 2014, will allow direct running of Abbey line trains to Euston provided the DfT and other stakeholders are prepared to make a relatively lower investment in a passing loop at Bricket Wood and an additional train set.

This will help increase frequency and allow through running to London and unlock user demand.

As a quick win, consideration should be given to running direct trains only during peak hours, as happens on the branch lines to Bourne End and Henley on Thames. Of course, support from the local county council is essential. Otherwise we will get nothing.


Watford Road, St Albans

Improvements needed at park

SIR – In response to the interesting letter from Nick Chivers concerning further investment/improvement of our already impressive Verulamium Park (June 6), it is surprising to me that this fine, large area of grass, lakes, playing fields has fairly often over the 41 years we have lived here, been so under-cared for.

My intention is not to criticise, but just to mention the polluted areas of the two lakes is an eyesore. Also we do have some bin emptying carried out – but why so few (too small/inadequate) refuse bins! Encourage visitors to take their rubbish away.

I suggest the five or six thoughtful practical improvements to the facilities of Verulamium Park made by Nick Chivers could be implemented ASAP in my opinion – certainly they would benefit all users of the park, be they residents, visitors, young or old.

Yes, to flower beds, eg beyond the Roman museum and the whole flower garden – brighten things up – sunflowers grow easily!

Yes, a new well-planned children’s play area, water fountain in the large lake, improved cricket and football playing fields...

More native trees – yes. Possibly a mound for rolling down in summer – sledging down in winter.

Reinstate regular smart uniformed park keeper(s) – we used to have them and they were very helpful too.


The Dell, St Albans