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Readers’ letters: Stop North Sea energy ‘oligarchs’ putting profit before people

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Sir, – It’s North Sea gas price increases that are largely responsible for the cost of living crisis, making energy bills unpayable for growing numbers of people.

Some 90% of the gas we use in our homes comes from the North Sea. Wholesale gas prices were soaring well before Russia invaded Ukraine.

So far Ukraine and Russia have collaborated to keep most Russian gas flowing to Europe and to finance both sides in this war. There have been no power outages or gas shortages in the UK or Europe.

North Sea gas price increases have not been caused by rising costs of production. There have been no wage increases for oil and gas workers, and no new pipelines or gas platforms built.

So what are the sky-high gas prices all about? Supply and demand? Prices pushed up by a global shortage? China, Japan and India, where it is claimed that there are gas shortages, can’t access North Sea gas however much they’d be prepared to pay for it. There are not the facilities in Europe to liquify North Sea gas and there is not a fleet of empty LNG tankers waiting to transport it to Asia.

The oil companies either sell North Sea gas to us at prices people can afford or they drive consumers into cold and hunger. The choice they have made is clear. Profits of Shell, BP and Total in the first three months of this year are colossal – £7.5, £5 and £4 billion respectively.

Ordinary people can’t and won’t go on indefinitely paying for oil company profiteering. We can’t just live with the gas and electricity disconnections that are the inevitable result of unaffordable bills.

Already Just Stop Oil and Extinction Rebellion are justifiably on the streets engaged in civil disobedience aimed at the oil and gas industry. Far more widespread civil disobedience is surely inevitable as people respond to cold and hunger. Remember the poll tax?

Manipulating gas markets to impoverish your customers can’t in any way be described as a “windfall”. It’s an unprovoked and deadly attack by an industry whose time has passed, and a one-off tax won’t cut the mustard.

The plan to slash civil service jobs to free up the cash to meet the cost of living crisis is a perverse response. The industry needs to be taken out of the hands of our own oligarchs.

The oil and gas that will have to be produced in the short term needs to finance the transition that will allow us to stay warm in our homes, and the planet to stay cool enough to remain habitable.

We need a plan to insulate our homes properly, and massively expand wind and solar generation to heat and light our homes in a way that doesn’t feed the climate crisis.

This is the opposite of the current oil industry/government plan to maximise economic recovery of North Sea oil and gas i.e. to produce and burn every barrel of hydrocarbon they can turn a profit on. Business as usual.

Neil Rothnie, Marywood Square, Glasgow.

EV range a worry for rural drivers

Sir, – Electric cars are ideal for drivers who live in cities and can install charging units at their homes.

However, for drivers like me living in rural Scotland the range is a big problem.

My daughter lives in Fife and we have a young grandson whom we visit frequently – having to gamble on availability of charging points en route is just not for us, apart from the purchase price.

I have opted for the middle ground and bought a self-charging hybrid which returns 65mpg and on a long run is under electric power for up to 50% of the journey.

Alan McPherson, Cullen, Moray.

Families should have been asked

Sir, – I was so sad to read that the families of the people lost in the Piper Alpha disaster were not consulted over the memorial redevelopment.

Shame on those who are involved in the rebranding and redesigning of the memorial.

Sheena Reid, Burnland Crescent, Elrick.

Actions do speak louder than words

Sir, – I was delighted and relieved to read in The P&J, of the final composition of Aberdeen City Council, resulting in a power-sharing partnership between the SNP and Lib Dems.

I was particularly encouraged to read Councillor Ian Yuill will assume the role of co-leader.

He brings to the position a passion for the wellbeing of the city, he is a man of the people and for the people, he has served the ward of Airyhall, Broomhill and Garthdee where he resides, for 28 years, and during the five years of the past council he raised 2,642 issues on behalf of residents, while his Conservative and SNP councillors raised 370 issues jointly!

His past record of service was the reason why he topped the poll once again and I was delighted to give him my vote.

It was interesting that my wife and I received two comprehensive leaflets from the Lib Dems, while the SNP dropped one through the letterbox which was short on detail for the next five years, while the Conservatives and Labour Party delivered none. Actions always speaks louder than words.

John Young, Anderson Drive, Aberdeen.

Is ‘just trainsition’ on track to succeed?

Sir, – When former principal teacher of social subjects Jenny Gilruth became transport minister in January she said the transport portfolio is “an exciting opportunity to not just shape the infrastructure of our country but to also help Scotland become a world leader in achieving our goal to become net-zero by 2045”.

I’m not sure if she was meaning carbon emissions or ScotRail journeys. We’ll know soon if her “just trainsition” is still on track or running out of steam.

Allan Sutherland, Willow Row, Stonehaven.

Forces veterans deserve better

Sir, – When someone has served their country in the armed forces, the least we can do is support them when they make the move back to civilian life. Yet every year thousands of veterans end up sleeping rough, sofa surfing or living in unsuitable hostels because they’re unable to access housing and slip through the net. Those that have served their country, often through the most trying of times, deserve better.

The Armed Forces Covenant states that anyone who has served in the forces should face no disadvantage, and this includes accessing social housing. Veterans, who are especially vulnerable to homelessness, should be prioritised for support.

We’ve seen a dramatic rise in the number of homeless veterans seeking help since the pandemic. With the rising cost of living crisis, we know the situation is going to get worse.

Too often former members of the forces miss out on housing support because they aren’t identified as a veteran. As leading voices in the veterans’ housing sector, we’ve joined the No Homeless Veterans campaign to urge local authorities to do more.

It’s vital that when someone needs help with housing, they are asked whether they’ve served in the forces. If they have, this should be recorded. Once identified, they can be directed towards support that’s available.

Many, particularly in Scotland, already do, but all local authorities across the UK should be identifying veterans quickly. There is no need for them to be sofa surfing, bouncing from hostel to hostel, or sleeping on the streets. Our heroes deserve better.

Brigadier (Ret’d) Martin Nadin, Chief Executive, Scottish Veterans Residences.

We can’t lose our churches

Sir, – It was with a sad heart that I read the article by Lauren Robertson and Lottie Hood – ‘10 kirks face closure. Will we allow this to be our next Union Street?’

I am not a Church of Scotland minister but a congregational minister (independent churches). We have established effective, small, local congregations across the city. But this is sad news.

I keep hearing my fellow Aberdonians decry the sad state of Union Street, all the “good shops” have gone. Our present generations need to look in the mirror, we are at fault for that. We decided that ‘big is better’ – we shop at big supermarkets, we shop at shopping centres. There are consequences to our decisions. The loss of the small corner shops and the demise of Union Street. Today, in the energy crisis, and there is a drive to live greener, to shop closer to home. But in some ways, it is too late, most of the local shops have gone. Our fault.

We are witnessing the same with our churches. But it is not too late – we are in the eleventh hour. The closure of St Mark’s Church, the last of the Church of Scotland churches in the city centre, will be the sad end of an era, the closure of 10 churches across the city will be a social disaster, no Church of Scotland church in Woodside! They serve their own communities. They are a reminder. Yes, there is a God, who has set standards, but a reminder, that when life bites us all, that there is hope, there is still love in this city, there is forgiveness and it is all in your community.

Once they close, it will be like another Union Street, vacant premises and sad hearts.

I want to urge all of you who have complained about the state of Union Street, to stop and think, the same is about to happen to another mainstay of this city, but it is not too late. Please go and support or attend your local church, save the churches, which can provide facilities, for youth, like the Boys’ Brigade, which is there to allow young people to experience life to its full, or facilities for the elderly or the disabled, there to help and support people to celebrate new life and throughout life, or be there to support people when life hurts.

The buildings are tools, they are a facility for local community groups, allow a huge amount of volunteer work to be done in our city, help charities. Once closed, it will be centralised.

Is big always beautiful? Decisions forced to be made – by us.

It is not too late. But leave it a year, or five, and this city will be a much less attractive place to live in and bring your children up in.

Will we all sit at home on a Sunday morning and complain about “another” Union Street, or will you do what you can?

We can complain about decisions that have been made, but don’t kid ourselves, the real culprits are us.

Now is the time to save these churches under threat, and the other struggling churches in our communities.

My heart goes out to the leaders and members of the threatened churches.

May God be with them.

Rev Andy Cowie, Middleston Crescent, Bridge of Don.

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