Readers' letters - August 13

Pollution in the countryside is just as unacceptable
Protesters at a fracking site in Lancashire. A correspondent says fracking will increase pollution of the atmosphereProtesters at a fracking site in Lancashire. A correspondent says fracking will increase pollution of the atmosphere
Protesters at a fracking site in Lancashire. A correspondent says fracking will increase pollution of the atmosphere

A report of the Government’s Air Quality Expert Group was given to ministers in 2015, but not published for three years before it quietly appeared on the library page of Parliament’s air quality website. This was no oversight, as the report was released four days after ministers approved fracking in Lancashire. The report estimated that even a small number of fracking wells would increase national emissions of pollution, with nitrogen dioxides rising up to four per cent and volatile organic compounds up to three per cent. However, it says “impacts on local and regional air quality have the potential to be substantially higher than the national level impacts, as extraction activities are likely to be highly clustered”. In addition to the methane released by the fracking process is the air (and noise) pollution caused by diesel generators and the thousands of truck journeys needed to transport toxic fracking fluid. Much hot air comes from the Government about phasing out diesel cars in cities, but they seem to regard polluting our countryside as acceptable. Dr Peter WilliamsAddress supplied

Disquiet over veils down to psychology

With the use of powerful imagery in his words, Boris Johnson has rekindled the debate concerning burkas and face veils. I suspect many people share his views but this does not make Boris or others racists or Islamophobists. If Caucasian women started to wear similar headgear, there would probably be a an outcry. Young men wearing hoods which hide their faces create a feeling of unease. Instant thoughts could be “What are they up to or what are they hiding?” Motorcyclists who wear all-over head helmets look like aliens from outer space. But they do it for safety reasons and I am sure that they are only too glad to take them off. My point is that the disquiet is not related necessarily to race or religion, but to the basic psychology behind personal communication, although it may provide ammunition to groups with extremist agendas. For hundreds of thousands of years, humans have developed complex means of communicating with one another, which puts them apart from other species. In addition to sounds and words, body language is fundamental and the face with all its multiplicity of expressions plays a key part. The eyes provide direct communication with other individuals. The mouth can turn into smiles or snarls. In turn they are both surrounded by facial muscles which, in combination, help to express happiness, sadness, anger and many other feelings. Burkas and face veils hinder this process of personal communication. Boris may have used inappropriate words in his article but he has certainly brought the controversy back into the limelight. Let us now debate the issues openly and sensibly, but with sensitivity and tolerance to other people’s feelings. Geoffrey Northvia emailTethered totheir phones

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On the smartphone menace, there are two aspects which still give me cause for hope. First, the absence of a signal at many of the places which I still enjoy, and second, the knowledge that the majority of the public are gregarious. My small number of walking pals, never more than three, had a term for such folk – ‘touroid’ . This is a sub-species of tourist governed by invisible umbilical cords and coupled to their phone, which restricts their travel to no more than 100 yards from their vehicle. Long may this continue. Bob SwallowAddress suppliedEasy distinction Surely it’s easy to make the distinction between legitimate criticism of a government and bigotry against people of a particular faith? Criticising a government, no matter how ‘religious’ it claims to be, should always be allowed when there are wrongdoings when it comes to humans, animals or the environment. This is very different to treating ordinary people badly because of their faith, which is, of course, always wrong.Molly Clare via email