DAVID CAMERON’S latest wheeze is to allow councils to retain 100 per cent of the rates for allowing fracking operations in their area (The Press, January 14).

We will have to watch carefully how City of York Council reacts to this latest “bribe” from central Government as they have form in this area.

For example, the overcooked housing targets in the Draft Local Plan have clearly been influenced by the Government’s introduction of the New Homes Bonus, which pays councils a sweetener for every house built in their area.

Will fracking be another case where the people of York are caught between a Tory Government bent on economic development at any costs and an empire-building Labour council leader?

David Farnsworth, Old Orchard, Haxby, York.


• THIS year is all going to be about fracking. The Government has made its mind up that fracking is a wonderful thing that will cure all the country’s problems. The EU is rightly telling the Government to be more cautious.

Tax incentives have been given to the fracking companies; now the companies want to bribe local councils to allow them to go ahead. One of the conditions the fracking companies will impose on councils is a confidentiality clause, as they have done in America.

Once the fracking companies get the go-ahead, there will be no turning back. Once they start, it will be too late to say you are poisoning our land, or drinking water, the air we breathe.

Coun James Alexander is right to stop and think about accepting the money offered to the council.

York and surrounding councils should consult with their citizens in a form of referendum after the facts for and against fracking are put to them.

The benefits from fracking sound good until you look at the downside experienced in America.

When the fracking companies have gone, the people of this country will be left to clean up and live with any problems left behind.

Chris Mangham, Lindsey Avenue, Acomb, York.


• COULD I suggest that Julian Cole’s regular Thursday column be rechristened “Julian’s anti-Tory rant”.

The latest subject on which to castigate at least the Tory part of the Coalition is the emotive subject of fracking, an issue that has largely cross-party support, to proceed only after full consultation and safeguards.

Yet here we have Julian once again berating his favourite target “Call me Dave” Cameron who has replaced “Mrs Hacksaw” (Thatcher) as his bête noir.

There is nothing that Dave or the Tories will ever do that will satisfy Julian. I am sure he would prefer a situation where perhaps Government was shared permanently between Red Ed and his cohorts and the wishy-washy, all-things-to-all men, Liberal Democrats.

I remember one of his columns during the Blair years claiming that somehow things felt better or nicer under this regime. Perhaps I could remind Julian of the results of this “nice” period; illegal wars, pension fund disaster, unbridled expansion of the Welfare (Entitlement) State, gold reserve sell-off at the worst possible price, plummeting educational standards, uncontrolled immigration and financial ruin – the list is endless.

No doubt he will be cheering from the rafters in 2015 when it seems likely that we can revisit this “Nice” place on Red Ed’s election. Who’s for beer and sandwiches chaps?

Martin Smith, Main Street, Elvington, York.


• AT LAST the Prime Minister has encouraged fracking companies to start drilling for gas all over the country.

We have needed to get this natural gas from under the ground for a long time.

The company Total has confirmed it has taken a 40 per cent share in drilling to go ahead between Doncaster and Lincoln.

This will be good for the workforce, and it is estimated this could produce 74,000 jobs and more than £3 billion in income.

Councils where the drilling for shale gas takes place are in for a windfall. Hopefully, the leader of City of York Council will take heed of this.

Tom Mitchell, Mendip Close, Huntington, York.


• IT IS not very often that I agree with David Cameron but, as regards drilling for shale gas, I do agree.

The North needs jobs and wealth creation, and our entire nation needs more affordable energy and less reliance on foreign countries supplying our requirements. Fracking has worked well in America, and we have been fracking in the North Sea for many years without serious dangers.

I hope we can start this process quickly and reap the benefits soon.

David Quarrie, Lynden Way, Holgate, York.