THE Institution of Civil Engineers' State of the Nation 2006 report contained a positive message which slipped down the news agenda in relation to some harder-hitting issues.

The North-East has long been recognised as the UK's industrial engine. The traditional heavy industries on which the region once relied have been in decline, presenting a challenge for future economic wellbeing.

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The energy industry is one of the first to respond positively to this challenge, using the skills base and knowledge of the existing workforce and, in many instances, the physical assets that have been derived from the previous industrial era.

In particular, the technologies which are new to the renewable energy sector are established practice in the chemical industry.

The North-East as a whole, and the Tees Valley in particular, are now emerging as a world showcase for renewable energy technology and can demonstrate a diversity of technologies that is unique in Europe.

While this is great news, it is up to other sectors in the North-East to follow this lead and use the talent and assets of the region to grasp every opportunity to drive forward and become leaders in their own fields. - Stephen Larkin, Regional Manager, Institution of Civil Engineers, North-East.


STANHOPE Ford, Weardale, was again in the headlines with the rescue by RAF helicopter of two people whose vehicle became stuck in the crossing. I have to agree with the reported views of Harry Irwin and Richard Mews (Echo, Oct 23). The deployment of such costly resources was excessive.

The river was running high and clearly impassable by motor vehicle. "A torrent?" Well, a bit of an exaggeration I think.

What about the couple "rescued"? What charges if any will be brought against their foolhardy behaviour? They ignored clear warning signs, the state of a high-running river and believed themselves to be immune from the forces of nature.

In my opinion, such flagrant disregard of a clear warning should carry high penalties.

Stanhope Ford has been called dangerous, notorious and other inappropriate adjectives. There will be calls for the closure of this ancient river crossing. Barriers won't deter those determined upon foolhardy exploits.

Perhaps education through learning would work - learning that the consequences of such behaviour carry heavy financial penalties, removal of license to drive, and a criminal record. - Miss ME Roberts, Stanhope, Co Durham.


IN reply to your correspondent (HAS, Oct 12) Jolly's Circus did indeed stay in Darlington because of its success there. Yes, we did apply in advance for a licence to stay on, but, unlike the animal rights movement, we are in touch with genuine public feeling, so we knew we could expect huge support.

At every venue visited by Jolly's Circus, we are complimented by visitors on the condition of the animals, our standards of care (which are plain to see for all who choose to open their eyes and look) and on the animals' obvious contentment.

These are real people giving their view, not myopic campaigners with an axe to grind.

The genuine concerns about the welfare of animals in circuses are being scientifically investigated under the Animal Welfare Bill. Jolly's Circus is happy to join in those discussions because we're not afraid of the truth; the Captive Animals' Protection Society is the only interest group which refused to take up Defra's invitation to join.

We thank our friends in the North-East for their support. Jolly's Circus looks forward to seeing you again soon. - Chris Barltrop, Spokesman for Jolly's Circus.


POSSIBLY others were as insulted as I was at our being called "a mongrel race" by Gerard Wild (HAS, Oct 21).

That view of British origins is a scurrilous myth. True, we largely derive from the various Germanic tribes - Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Friesians, Flemings and Norsemen - who settled here in the early post-Roman period.

However, all those groups had the same language (or local variants thereof), culture and religion: in short, they were ethnically one.

As for the original Celtic inhabitants of Britain, they spoke a related Indo-European language to the Germanic settlers, from whom they were doubtless physically indistinguishable, and their ultimate origins lay in the same general part of Europe.

It will be seen, therefore, that we British, far from being a mixed bag ethnically, are remarkably homogeneous. We should revere our ancient culture and not treat it lightly, nor let others do so. - Tony Kelly, Crook, Co Durham.


IT is time that the Government gave human rights to everybody in the UK, instead of allowing asylum seekers and people from ethnic backgrounds to thrust it down our throats as soon as they hear the words "court case" coming from their lawyers.

Us Brits have had our country taken away from us, our Christian culture almost demolished by the Labour Party in favour of ethnic religions, and our right of free speech outlawed by left-wing fanatics.

Am I right in thinking that only members of the ethnic communities have "human rights" and not people like myself from white British backgrounds?

Tony Blair has always stated "equal rights for everyone" so therefore why don't us Brits get the same type of special treatment that the Labour Party continually offers to all Muslims and asylum seekers? - Christopher Wardell, Darlington.


OURS is still essentially a Christian country, and it is right that the minorities in our country should have a voice and be heard.

However, it seems to me that these minorities have much louder voices than the majority. What is wrong with the majority in our modern society, are we too Christian?

To me it seems that they "turn the other cheek" too often.

If the majority do not wake up and act soon, then political correctness and those with the loudest voices will have their way. - David Gray, Sowerby, Thirsk, North Yorkshire.


READING your article about celebrations of the 175th anniversary of the Special Constabulary (Echo, Oct 14) brought back quite a few memories.

My father, who was in the First World War, was too old for the Second but had to help the "war effort". He did work at the munitions factory at Aycliffe, and also was a Special Constable.

He had a chart on the wall stating the times he had to go on duty, which was great for me because if he was on late turn I could stay out with my friends later than usual.

He was given a medal which reads: "For Faithful Service in the Special Constabulary." - Mrs E Morgan, Bishop Auckland.