AS we view from the North York Moors the catastrophic wildfires that are devastating the poor people, animals and nature of Australia, we can’t help but compare our current situation to theirs.

The one refrain which is being repeated by many of those in Australia is that one of the reasons the fires have spread so ferociously is due to a lack of “prescribed”, or “controlled”, burning.

These planned burns, which have been practised in Australia for thousands of years, create fire control lines and burn off dead and excess vegetation on the forest floor, which otherwise allows wildfires to spread.

In recent years, however, prescribed burning has been practised less and less due to government restrictions.

It is not only in Australia that the clearing of vegetation through burning is becoming a controversial topic. Here in the North Yorkshire Moors, we practice rotational controlled burning of heather, which allows the heather to regenerate, stimulates plant growth and removes the dead undergrowth.

Of course, the British climate is very different from that of Australia, but even here wildfires are a very serious and real threat. Take Saddleworth Moor in the Peak District where, in 2018 there was a devastating wildfire.

It might seem strange to burn the moors in order to look after them but, as the native Australians know over there, and we know over here, it works. Not only does burning reduce the fuel load of the moors, but the quick, cool rotational burns that we practice during the winter months have a huge benefit to birdlife.

These are just some of the reasons why we believe the burning practices that have been going on for hundreds, if not thousands of years, are vital for the preservation of our wildlife and their habitats. So-called “green” campaigners claim that a ban on burning will somehow help our moors. This could not be further from the truth.

Tina Brough, North York Moors Moorland Organisation

Grasp the nettle

HOW much longer is it going to take to grasp the nettle and get it done? No, not Brexit, I mean the problem of the level crossing between Norton and Malton.

There is no better time than now to solve this problem once and for all. Why? Because a new government is committed to funding northern projects and a railway company investing to improve the station.

The solution surely is to close the level crossing to traffic and pedestrians and continue Church Street west on the southern side of the railway, running parallel and elevating to a roundabout on the vacant ground south of the station, providing a car and taxi park and access under to the platform.

The new platform and rails to be lowered to reduce the height of a road flyover. The elevated road to join Railway Street, passing over the lowest building of the station.

Demolish and re-site the Railway Club on the old laundry site. Retain the signal box, mimic in Norton Road, providing lifts and bridges over railway for pedestrians, etc.

Demolish the building on the triangle in Railway Street (there are plenty of empty buildings in the town to re-house the businesses), build a roundabout serving Yorkersgate, Wheelgate, Old Maltongate, Castlegate and Railway Street. This would reduce pollution, improve air quality and eliminate the traffic lights.

Companies using HGVs for deliveries to fund a transfer depot at Norton Industrial Estate, then use smaller lorries and vans to deliver goods into town, creating local employment. The HGVs can then at any time access the depot via Brambling Fields roundabout off the A64. Have a plan, make a decision, get on with it, no more dilly dallying.

Gerald Cosens, Thornton-le-Dale

Rooms to hire

I WOULD like to draw attention to new developments in the Milton Rooms.

We have refurbished the old Georgian ballroom called the Assembly Room. This used to be in a poor state of decorative repair and its main use was as a dressing room for shows like the pantomime and Ryedale Youth Theatre productions.

The Milton Rooms, with the help of moneys donated by Malton and Norton town councils and Ryedale District Council, has restored this room to its old splendour with multiple electrical points.

The room has a capacity of 80 and is licensed. It can be used for small dramatic productions and for musical entertainment, public meetings and other events. We are also promoting its use for private functions. It would be possible, for example, for the wedding family meal to be served in the Assembly Room, and for the main hall to be hired for the evening disco/dance. If food is served at a private event, this will have to be provided by outside caterers, and the Milton Rooms charity would be pleased to hear from caterers who would be interested in working with us. So, if you are looking for a room to hire, please come and see what we have to offer.

Paul Andrews, chairman, Milton Rooms