Sir, – Your report on the construction progress of the East Tullos energy-from-waste incinerator fails to mention an important point.
Councillor Philip Bell’s reported forecast of the plant beginning commissioning in spring is dependent on the operator gaining a permit to operate from the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa).
Despite the application for the permit being submitted in October 2019, it has not yet been granted.
A draft decision is due early in the new year but, even assuming that it is in the form of draft permit rather than a draft refusal (either is possible), a 21-day consultation will follow during which both statutory consultees and members of the public can submit objections to the decision.
A final decision to issue, or refuse, a fully-approved permit may take months.
It is presumptive and arrogant of Mr Bell to assume the granting of a permit is guaranteed by a particular date, or at all.
However, if the incinerator does eventually get a permit from Sepa, it will start its operational period just as it is becoming recognised that incineration has nothing to contribute to sustainable energy policy.
As Aberdeen rapidly seeks to move towards a carbon-neutral future through energy transition policies, the city council will realise that agreeing to burn all of Aberdeenshire and Moray’s municipal waste, as well as its own, will be an embarrassing and enduring mistake as the incinerator pumps out 372 tonnes of CO2 each day for the next 25 years.
Ian Baird, Girdleness Road, Aberdeen.
Smoking’s toll on NHS same as Covid
Sir, – As a retired health professional I have watched attentively as our politicians and health scientists grapple with the fall-out and vagaries of the Covid pandemic.
The initial tactics were not high tech, just fairly simple health messages, firmly encouraging behaviour changes, to not only control the spread of the virus but also to save our NHS from being overwhelmed until vaccine development and roll-out.
This has been accompanied by the unrelenting focus of the whole media.
Covid has been with us for almost two years and sadly around 150,000 have died in the UK in that time. This figure, shocking as it is, is in the same ball park for the number of deaths from smoking-related illness, which for the year 2020 was 75,000 with more than 500,000 smoking-related illness hospital admissions.
Why are there no similar expert-generated messages, or “balanced” media reports, focusing on the pandemic that is smoking?
Pre-pandemic, smoking was and will continue to be a very significant tragic burden on treatment and beds in the NHS.
Our politicians and health educators need to do more. If you are a smoker and looking for a really positive life-changing resolution not just for yourself but also ultimately to help the NHS, then stopping in 2022 might be a good time!
There is help out there. Try nhsinform.scot
William Morgan, Midstocket, Aberdeen.
Am I in control of my own actions?
Sir, – In 2012 American philosopher and neuroscientist Sam Harris wrote Free Will, in which he considered the argument that free will is an illusion and our decisions are pre-determined by our biochemistry and environment.
With enough data we could predict the future till the end of time. Buddha and Newton held similar beliefs.
If free will is an illusion, I have no control over whether I write to The P&J nor what I write. The editor’s decision on publication will be that of another automaton and any reader will take exception or not according to their own pre-programmed electro-chemical composition.
To anyone I might have offended in previous correspondence or have yet to offend I can only apologise but there is nothing I can do.
(Not so free) Will McLeod, Netherbrae, Turriff, Aberdeenshire.