Friday, 25 May 2018

Derek Thomas, MP (St Ives) on Syrian bombing and National Planning Framework (NPF) with replies.

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"Targeted action taken to degrade and destroy the capacity of the Syrian dictator to use chemical weapons." 

Dear Tim,

Thank you for writing to me about the targeted action taken to degrade and destroy the capacity of the Syrian dictator to use chemical weapons.

I understand the concern about the use of force and the dangers of escalation but I believe the Prime Minister was right to take the action that she did.

Sadly we know that inaction in the face of the use of chemical weapons has consequences. We have witnessed a significant escalation in the use of these horrific weapons use, now including their deployment by Russia on the streets of Britain. Chemical weapons pose a real and terrible threat to us all and it was absolutely necessary to make it clear that their use will no longer go unpunished.

The chemical weapons Convention came into force in 1997 - building on the 1925 Geneva protocol which banned the use of chemical and biological weapons in war.

The chemical weapons Convention went further in aiming to eliminate a whole category of weapons of mass destruction by prohibiting the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention, transfer or use of chemical weapons by state parties.

These weapons present a grave threat to all humanity; their effects are particularly horrific and indiscriminate. Liquids droplets of nerve agents can be readily absorbed through the skin and will potentially affect anyone coming into contact with them. They can be transferred to others giving first-aid unless suitably protected and can be persistent in the environment, continuing the threat for days or in some cases weeks as is now demonstrated by ongoing traces of nerve agent in Salisbury.

They not only target their intended victims but create further casualties in a way designed to spread maximum distress and to degrade the resources emergency services. Those who die do so in the most distressing manner.

This was not an isolated incident. In April 2017 in the rebel held town of Khan Shaykhun in north-western Syria there was well documented use of the highly lethal nerve agent, sarin and this was confirmed following a UN led investigation. The leadership panel of the organisation for the prohibition of chemical weapons sent a letter to the UN Secretary General summarising in its conclusions that it was confident that the Syrian Arab Republic was responsible for the release of sarin during the attack. The conclusions of the Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic to the human rights council of the UN in September 2017 make for the most distressing reading. The commission documented 25 incidents of chemical weapons use in the Syrian Arab Republic between March 2013 and March 2017 of which 20 were perpetrated by government forces and used primarily against civilians.

Those who claim that we must wait for proof from inspectors should read these reports and watch the footage of the aftermath of these atrocities. Whilst we would all prefer action to be sanctioned at the United Nations, this has been repeatedly blocked by Russia using its veto. To insist on a UN resolution would be in effect to hand this decision to Russia and take no action at all.

No one should think this is a distant situation, far from our shores. The deliberate use of a Novichok nerve agent in Salisbury was not an isolated attack, Alexander Litvinyenko was murdered in Britain on the orders of the Kremlin using a lethal radioactive poison in 2006.

I support the humanitarian action to protect civilians in Syria from further use of chemical weapons. I also feel this sends a strong signal to Russia about their own use of these horrific weapons.

Finally, would you be willing to allow me to use your email address to send a newsletter regarding the work I am doing on behalf of West Cornwall and Scilly from time to time? There is an option to unsubscribe should you wish to at any time.

Yours sincerely,

Derek Thomas
Member of Parliament for West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (St Ives)

Derek Thomas, MP.

Dear Derek,

Thank you for this letter regarding the recent American/British/French bombing raids on Syria.

No one doubts the pernicious nature of chemical weapons. It has been apparent since Britain and Germany developed and used them in the First World War. The problem arises in determining when they are deployed now, what they are, and who is responsible. 

Unfortunately there is clear evidence that Western Government, often working covertly, to undeclared objectives, cannot be trusted when it comes to describing events or apportioning blame. Also vis a vis Israel in particular - but we could also think of other 'hot spot'examples - it demonstrates bias and partisanship to an almost disgusting extent. There could be no more glaring example of this than failing to condemn Israel for the recent massacre of unarmed Palestinians or the use of phosphorous bombs and gas against Gaza civilians including children, that has also caused multiple deaths.

I am sorry to say you show a quite naive appreciation of the last Gouta incident, based on images that witnesses have declared were false. Even were gas of some description employed in a pocket, it is far more likely it was deployed by the western-backed mercenaries who were facing defeat, as a propaganda exercise. East Gouta has now been cleared of them, both by military defeat and negotiated evacuation and we shall see if chemical attacks continue after they are gone. Assad's regime is no angel, but he travels freely in the country without armed guards it would appear, and is welcomed back when Al Qaida affililiated terrorists are removed, which is something not achieved by Western leaders even. This must show something. The whole Syria narrative is biased and unreliable.

Now as to the recent attacks on specified chemical weapons targets, you must be able to see how ludicrous it was. Leaving aside the fact that Syrias weapons were destroyed under American supervision five or six years ago, it is clear they were deserted and free of chemicals, or the West itself would have been guilty of the very war crime it was objecting to. Despite costing half a billion pounds of hard earned currency, it proved only that America and its allies could do it and in the process brought us dangerously close to a nuclear holocaust. It was nothing more than Trump grandstanding and gesture politics, in which Britian meekly and illegally tagged along to avoid Macron getting the prized 'special relationship'.

There is no part of the West's policy to the Middle East that has not been discriminatory or a disaster. Britain could and still can, stand up for international law, justice and decency but it blatantly fails to do so. Shame on the Conservative Party. Shame on the Government. Shame on us.

Yours sincerely,

Tim Veater.

"National Planning Framework (NPPF)."

Dear Tim,

Thank you very much for contacting me about the consultation into the National Planning Framework (NPPF).

I am happy to report that changes are being proposed to the NPPF which will strengthen environmental protections to take account of the 25 Year Environmental Plan, published in February. This includes additional policy on strengthening existing networks of wildlife habitats, taking air quality fully into account, clarifying development in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty as well as areas of Heritage Coast.

The Framework also strengthens protection for ancient woodland and other irreplaceable habitats.

The changes have been made after I, together with Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow, met with Housing Minister Dominic Raab who has also agreed to meet with representatives of Wildlife Trusts to discuss these issues.

If the Government is serious about its commitment to leaving the environment in a better state than the one it inherited, there needs to be a coherent, joined-up approach across all policy areas.

I am very grateful to constituents such as yourself who have raised these legitimate concerns with me.

The revised Framework strengthens environmental protections in a number of ways, including by requiring local authorities to improve biodiversity, improve air quality and increase protection for ancient woodland.

There is no doubt that the Government faces huge challenges to provide the housing we all seek and deserve but it should not be at the expense of our environment which is so special to us.

I agree with all the ambitions outlined by the Campaign to Protect Rural England and I will continue to lobby Government to ensure that we have a Planning Framework that protects our unique environment as well as providing the housing that many people need and deserve.

Finally, would you be willing to allow me to use your email address to send a newsletter regarding the work I am doing on behalf of West Cornwall and Scilly from time to time? There is an option to unsubscribe should you wish to at any time.

Yours sincerely,

Derek Thomas
Member of Parliament for West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (St Ives)

Dear Derek, 

Thank you for this. I am pleased you support "strengthened environmental protections". I just wonder how you reconcile this with your support for a new heliport in Penzance, which for me and thousands of others, will do the exact opposite? 

Yours sincerely,

Tim Veater. 

P.S. I append a letter I recently sent to the Cornishman on the subject.

Dear Editor,

Proposed Penzance Heliport
The news from the BBC today (21.5.2018) that the Isles of Scilly Council (IoSC) tried to prevent the first flight of the Isles of Scilly Steamship Company (IoSSCo) helicopter landing at St Mary's Airport on its inaugural flight, is but the latest twist in this long-running saga. 

The reason given was the operation had not been subjected to a noise assessment, as had the planned Penzance proposal. This is somewhat ironic as the said report by acoustic experts "WYG", published at the end of Jan. this year, is not without its faults and limitations.

In view of the fact that it was commissioned and presumably paid for by the Tresco Estate, it cannot be viewed as independent and unaffected by bias. In fact it admits as much by stating, 

"This report presents the findings of a noise assessment undertaken in support of a full planning application for the development of a proposed heliport on land to the north of Jelbert Way, Penzance."

In these circumstances its conclusion that, 

"despite a nominal increase in noise levels, it is considered that the effect of maximum of 17 aircraft departures and approaches during the daytime will not create a significant adverse impact." 

and "the proposed development is not expected to have an adverse impact on health or quality of life."

should be treated with extreme caution. I can agree with neither of these assertions.

The "WYG" Report is so full of detailed measurements it is very hard for the layman to make any sense of them. (Perhaps that was the idea!) However one thing is clear, the helicopter, particularly when landing and taking off is very noisy, and this cannot fail to have an intrusive and detrimental impact, particularly where background noise is low. 

Noises above 85 dBA lead to permanent hearing loss. It is also proven to be associated with increased stress, illness and premature death. It is therefore not to be taken lightly. The report admits the helicopter creates 104.1 dBA @ 10 m. This obviously declines with distance but will still be 8.4 dBA  above background levels at best and much more where background levels are lower.
(It should be noted that the decibel scale is logarithmic there is a doubling of pressure every three dBA. This means that at 10 m the noise generated is more than 64 times that at which deafness is caused!) We are not told whether the reference measurements were taken when the helicopter was fully laden. I suspect not.

Seventeen flights a day between the hours of 7.30 am and 7.30 pm are envisaged, that is 34 movements in all, seven days a week, so not even respite on a Sunday! This really is unacceptible.

As we have come to expect, the Cornwall Council appears to be in favour of all and any development, whatever the cost to environment or quality of life. There have been thousands of public submissions, overwhelmingly in support but these come almost exclusively from well-heeled tourists who do not live in the area. The first duty of the Council is to protect the environment and well-being of rate-paying residents.

Besides lacking credibility by virtue of association, the "WYG" report is limited to noise and does not consider all the other safety, pollution, amenity and visual impacts of the proposal. Cornwall Council would be very unwise to rely on it in any regard in its decision making. It is obvious that this application cries out for a thorough and independent Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which as far as I am aware has not been carried out.

To reintroduce this noisy operation to a residential area of over 20,00 people with even less stringent controls than formerly, would in my view, be nothing short of reckless and negligent!

Yours sincerely,

Tim Veater

1 comment:

  1. See also: Will Penzance Heliport lift off?


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