I READ with interest the accounts of people's exposure to the 2003 firestorm.
Most recollections conveyed a message of compassion and hope. I found it disturbing that Jon Stanhope and Simon Corbell choose instead to go on the back foot and defend their personal positions and that of their government. It is therefore not surprising to me that they personally and the Stanhope Labor government of the day were widely condemned for their role in the disaster. Their concern now and in 2003 appears to be about butt-covering self-preservation and not the Canberra community.
Lindsay Collison, Weston
Dam good plan
WHILE I have a good deal of respect for John Stanhope his aside about ACTEW's management of water security projects cannot go unchallenged. It is true the preliminary estimate of the cost of the new Cotter dam on which ACTEW based its initial in-principle support of the project was well wide of the mark, probably because of lack of recent experience with projects of this kind in Australia.
However this estimate was never going to be the basis for any decision to proceed. The subsequent decision to proceed was taken only after a fully defined, rigorously costed and independently reviewed estimate was developed and comprehensive governance, risk management and assurance arrangements established.
Despite the substantial increase in costs the Cotter project was still judged superior to other options including the water recycling project. The fact the project has experienced delays may be due to the dam site being inundated twice by major flooding in two years.
Ted Mathews, Hawker
AFTER our home and two others were destroyed by a fire which began in the overgrown brickworks in late 2005 we hoped the authorities would act to ensure there was little likelihood it would happen again, but feared they would not. Predictably, fear has triumphed over hope.
As the houses were being rebuilt, authorities began to construct an access road in the brickworks behind our homes. We told them, even as they carefully constructed a steep mound leading to the road, that it would be too steep to mow, and the long grasses which were bound to return would soon impose another threat.
Guess what? They can't mow the mound, the grass is dry, thick and long, and it has been months now since they mowed the track.
Why are we not surprised and why should we believe assurances improvements have been made, (January 11, p1) when evidence to the contrary is before us?
Vincent Woolcock, Yarralumla
RECENT reports from the CSIRO, together with the Bureau of Meteorology claims there will be a likely increase in extreme weather events. Time will tell if these claims will be proven to be true or false. The bureau frequently gets weather predictions wrong and yet wants to tell us it can accurately predict the weather in 100 years' time!
Global temperatures have been stable over the past 15 years, even England's Met Office admits to this. Predictions are meaningless because input data can be easily manipulated to produce all sorts of dire predictions about future climate.
One could be cynical and say that alarmist predictions are made in order to justify continued funding.
As for the increase in extreme weather events, they have declined by 30 per cent over the past two decades despite the increasing CO2 levels. The decline in abnormal weather behaviour is well documented in Indur Goklany's book, The Improving State of the World. What poses a serious threat to our future is not anthropogenic carbon emissions, but peddling misinformation in the name of science. Just because a scientist makes predictions concerning future climate, does not make it ''fact'' or inevitable. Spending massive amounts of taxpayers' money on a theory which is unproven is scandalous as is spending billions on unreliable renewable energy.
Alan Barron, Grovedale
Recycling water works
ACCORDING to the website of Western Australia's water supply authority, Water Corporation, many major cities and towns recycle water to add to their drinking supplies including Brisbane, Singapore and in the USA: Orange County, suburbs of Washington DC, Northern Virginia, Clayton County and Georgia.
Singapore's drinking water contains 30 per cent recycled water and my understanding is that the Lower Molonglo water treatment plant is of the same design less a couple of stages of purification, one of them presumably being reverse osmosis.
Perhaps Professor Collignon (Letters, January 11) could explain what specific problems have occurred in those places with a history of recycling sewage.
Keith Penhallow, Nicholls
Garden values trampled
PLANNING issues were regrettably given scant attention in the recent ACT Assembly elections. We missed a golden opportunity for a real community debate about the urgent need to preserve the heritage and character of Canberra's unique suburban precincts.
The ''Protests over Deakin McMansions'' (January 7, p3) reveal in very stark terms what is at stake. We inherited from previous generations of Canberrans, aided by enlightened governments and forward-looking planners, beautiful garden suburbs where the design and scale complemented and enhanced the urban landscape.
The totally inappropriate structure identified by the Deakin Residents' Association in Gawler Crescent is typical of many recent developments in inner-south Canberra that ignore the character of the surrounding neighbourhood and impinge on neighbours' privacy.
Like many residents of this marvellous part of Canberra, and visitors to it, I find it hard not to weep as I walk past the massively imposing, block-shaped, colourless monstrosities that blight what once were attractive streets and thumb their nose at long-standing garden city values.
Our politicians skated around these issues at the election but residents groups and concerned citizens generally will ensure they are given the priority they deserve when the Assembly reconvenes in a few weeks.
Gary Kent, chairman, Inner South Canberra Community Council
ANYBODY who believes that the new light towers at Manuka Oval blend into the suburb of Manuka - as required by NCA design criteria (Let there be Light: Manuka Ready for Night Shift, January 10, p24) - must be parked on Red Hill with their head buried in a cloud of marijuana fumes.
Geoff Pryor, Narrabundah
JONATHAN Crowley and his family would like to thank all of our friends and so many of the general community for their support for Jonathan's continuing struggle for justice.
It has been extremely helpful for Jonathan and his family after hearing the devastating decision of the Supreme Court Appeals Court.
Keith Crowley, Chapman