Planning rules

OUR new Tory government has announced that it is rail roading through new planning rules which will have the effect of changing communities without local people being able to have a say. This also includes changes to legislation to take away rights of local authorities to vote down planning applications.

The proposals will limit the power of local politicians to block building developments. Also requirements for developers to provide affordable housing are to be relaxed, the community infrastructure levy is to be abolished, along with Section 106 agreements.

The decisions that affect local people are being taken away from democratically elected representatives and given to ministers and civil servants.

Because of these plans more communities like Spennymoor will be swamped by large number of housing developments – without infrastructure to support it, as will the increase danger of coalescence when towns and villages merge into one another.

It will be interesting to see which side our new Tory MP comes down on.

Martin Jones, Spennymoor.

Garden village

THE article "Warning not to waste healthier living chance" (Echo, Sept 5), paints a rosy picture of the proposed new Burtree Garden village which is part of the Local Plan.

The idea behind a garden village is to quash the concerns of local communities regarding the development of some 2,000 houses putting a strain on the resources of the local area.

The aim is to do this by creating its own community infrastructure with good transport links, GP surgeries, schools, shops, which will help to create new jobs.

Does Darlington really need a self-contained community on its northern fringe? Surely the priority should be to regenerate the town centre and the run down areas surrounding it.

The article fails to mention that Burtree Village is just one small part of a total development of 12,000 houses to the north, on both sides of the A167, and which includes the proposed Skerningham Village, the only accessible piece of open countryside left.

We can voice our objections to the Local Plan at until September 17. A glance at the maps in Appendix G will show that swathes of countryside all around the town are to be built over.

Margaret Moyes, Darlington.

Pest elimination

CONCERNING the locust plague threatening the East African food supply (Echo, Sept 6), I once read that a huge swarm weighed many tons and ate their own weight in food each day.

They eat the top growth, but don’t kill the plant, which will recover – the starving humans will not.

One wonders whether this plague problem has a degree of self-inflicted injury, caused by endless conflict in the sub-Sahara regions. This has resulted in minimal – or even zero spraying, to kill the hoppers before their master flight.

Maybe lack of spraying can also be laid at the door of corrupt governments who mis-use the spray cash.

If, after a careful check on the locusts' place in the food chain, it is found they serve no useful purpose, then total elimination of the locust species would seem an obvious solution.

G B Butler, Stockton-on-Tees.

Covid risks

I WOULD like to sympathise with all those people who have genuinely suffered from coronavirus or the relatives of those who have died from it.

I am amongst that group who are vulnerable, as I am of the age and have underlying health problems.

When the media got hold of this story, they did what they are supremely good at and made it into a scare story that has genuinely got people living in fear (bad news is good news).

When I got hold of the facts and figures being released at that time, which were either true or false, I worked out the worst case scenario of catching it was about one in 100 and one in 1,000 of dying from it.

I was quite prepared to live life as normal, as why live life in fear with those percentages and anyway we all have to die sometime. In a few years’ time we will look back and shake our heads and say "what was that all about".

Seeing everyone wearing masks is slightly sinister. I am beginning to become a conspiracy theorist with reports that a lot of deaths are being given as dying from the virus as a matter of course.

I have experienced two cases where on a walk in the country at the beginning of the lock down, a woman nearly climbed over a gate so that we did not come near even though we never came within ten yards of each other. Another time on a narrow path through some woods a man climbed out of my way, fell over and as I instinctively went to pick him up, he genuinely screamed, “Don't come near me!” I know I am not the best looking person in the world, but I thought that was a bit over the top.

In the 1950s/60s millions of people suffered from Asian flu but the country wasn't shut down, what has changed?

Thomas Ball, Barnard Castle.

Traffic chaos

HOW long is it until an accident is caused by people trying to purchase a McDonald’s meal and causing huge traffic delays at the Tindale retail park, Bishop Auckland?

After trying to get to Sainsbury’s for petrol and queuing for 15 minutes while cars going left queued, cars coming from Tesco then blocked the traffic which caused people to use incorrect lanes to go straight over to Sainsbury’s.

Surely the charity shop and other business along this entrance must feel great frustration.

Can this be looked at? All for the sake of a burger and fries!

Name supplied, Bishop Auckland.

Brexit impact

WITH Brexit negotiations between the EU and UK close to collapse, our near neighbour and one-time friend the Republic of Ireland finds itself well and truly stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Now a net contributor to the EU budget, it faces the imminent repayment of a loan of £3.2bn the UK made in 2010 as part of a bailout of the Irish economy. The UK has been paid interest of about £42m every six months, but now the loan term is almost up and the capital sum is due to be repaid in full in March of next year.

Should Irish trade – which depends heavily on their HGVs using UK roads – be impacted by EU inspired blockades, they may well find their new friends across the Channel are the ones that drive the last nail into their economic coffin.

D W Lacey, Durham.