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Readers’ letters: Dounreay nuclear clean up, Aberdeen beach masterplan and indyref2

Nuclear decommissioning clean-up at the Dounreay facility.
Nuclear decommissioning clean-up at the Dounreay facility.

Sir, – I refer to the report headed “Nuclear plant in breach of safety rules” which referred to an investigation by the ONR (Office for Nuclear Regulation) into a leak of sodium at the Dounreay site – thankfully the leak was not a radioactive substance and there were no injuries.

The incident does highlight the continuing risks at Dounreay 28 years after the plant closed with decommissioning costs of £2.6 billion and an “interim end state” in 2033.

Given that nuclear is the most expensive way of producing electricity, it is difficult to understand how the UK Conservative Government can justify approving development consent for a new nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk given that the government promotes itself as the party which is best at gaining value for taxpayers’ money.

The new nuclear plant is estimated by the Greenwich Business School to cost £43.8 billion, take 17 years to build, funded by taxpayers, and will be completed too late to make any contribution to the urgent need to de-carbonise.

Renewable energy is 13 times cheaper than nuclear, and nuclear is not carbon-free as claimed – huge amounts of carbon are released into the atmosphere in the building and operation of nuclear power stations including uranium mining, operation and decommissioning

The government’s own Climate Change Committee (CCC) has reported that LCA’s (Life Cycle Analyses) of six existing UK nuclear reactors shows that they are above the CCC’s threshold of 50g CO2 per kWh.

Claims about nuclear being the only way forward are also promoted at Highland region level, most recently by Conservative councillor Andrew Jarvie – elected to the Wick and East Caithness Ward in May – who made these claims at a recent meeting of the Dounreay Stakeholder Group, and he even proposed a new nuclear power station for Caithness in his election campaign “priorities”.

Caithness is already leading the UK in both onshore and offshore wind and like the whole of Scotland could be totally self-sufficient in renewable energy. And in the future solar and tidal can be added to the mix – as the current plan is to have no nuclear power stations operating in Scotland by 2028.

In June the Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership reported that 700 jobs could be created in the next few years in sectors including renewables, and new jobs have already been created in onshore and offshore wind projects.

Highlands Against Nuclear Transport (HANT) will continue to promote renewable energy as the preferred technology for a carbon-free future in the Highlands and believes that the nuclear era has now passed and would encourage all public agencies in the Highlands to commit to supporting the development of renewables.

Tor Justad. Highlands Against Nuclear Transport, Ord Terrace, Strathpeffer.

A lot of pooh-pooh about IndyRef2

Sir, – To borrow from Stephen Fry’s character General Melchett in the comedy Blackadder Goes Forth, Grant Frazer has attempted to pooh-pooh my letter (P&J July 16) in which I had pooh-poohed his pipe dream of IndyRef2 next October.

I’m afraid I now have to pooh-pooh his attempted pooh-pooh of my pooh-pooh (Are you still with me?) as he’s miles off again, I’m afraid.

His latest effort states “Democracy denied to Scotland ….after decades of Westminster Tory rule, which the people of Scotland have not voted for since the 1950s”. The reality, however, is that Scottish votes have changed the outcome of four UK General Elections since 1964, which is pretty significant when Scotland only has a 12th of the UK population.

Indeed, if anyone has a reason to claim “democracy denied” it is the English Lib Dems, who, with no English parliament to speak for them, have to listen to endless bleating from Sturgeon’s lot in Holyrood and accept that their 11.5% of the vote share gave the Lib Dems only 11 Westminster MPs while the SNP sit smugly with 48 MPs from a share of only 3.9% – the most over-represented party in British political history and a complete democratic abomination.

Now that I’ve explained to Mr Frazer how lucky and how well represented his party is he might want to relax a bit.

There must be lots of things to do up in Newtonmore, tartan blanket weaving, peat bog tour guide, midgie warden, Gaelic sign painting, wind farm spotting, grouse hurdling, the possibilities seem endless!

Morris Kay. Lochview Place, Bridge of Don.

Cold hard facts on climate change

Sir, – Your correspondent Geoff Moore is so determined to deny climate change that he asks us to consider temperature records that are purely a figment of his imagination.

He suggests that days were warmer a thousand years ago. He does not, however, have any evidence of widespread heatwaves, droughts, storms, floods and wildfires like we are experiencing nowadays.

If such things were a regular occurrence they would surely be in the historical record.

Mr Moore also gets his facts completely wrong about Greenland.

The Danish settlers who first arrived in Greenland attempted without success to cultivate crops in the frozen wasteland; they very quickly perished or gave up and went home.

Today, however, due to climate change melting the Greenland ice sheet, some coastal areas of the landmass have soil exposed suitable for cultivation. And guess what? They already suffer from the same wildfires raging every summer across the Arctic including Russia, Scandinavia, Canada and Alaska.

Like Mr Moore I was also taught to treat news headlines with a pinch of salt. Should we do the same for his letters?

Jeff Rogers. Waters of Feugh, Banchory.

Some reasons to be cheerful – at last!

Sir, – These days, it seems I’m constantly reading about doom and gloom in newspaper articles, watching the depressing news and generally feeling that nothing works in our country any more. However, not everything is broken.

Our daughter, a resident of Norway, recently had to apply for a new British passport. With the horror stories about waiting months for a new one, she was understandably nervous about letting her passport leave her hands. She received her new one, in Norway, within four weeks of applying.

Meanwhile, in Aberdeenshire, our wheelie bin was damaged. I reported it online, and received a new bin within four days, the old one being collected a couple of days later.

There is good news out there. Some things do work. Let’s focus on positivity during these admittedly difficult times!

Isobel Bannerman. Braemar Road, Ballater.

Over-egging the pudding on Truss

Sir, – In reply to Ross Thomson’s letter, I would like to express my scepticism towards his rose-tinted view on the promotion of Liz Truss as a future British prime minister.

Painting a picture of someone who so far seems to have done everything right and has never put a foot wrong, he then attempts to convince us that she is some kind of financial mastermind, the superpower behind this country’s economic recovery and the key to saving the Union. He suggests families, businesses and communities can put their fate into the hands of this Westminster “action woman” because she will unfailingly sort it all out for them.

By idealising Ms Truss like this, Mr Thomson has clearly overdone it and actually might have done her a disservice. We all know if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

And he should know how to find the right balance. After all, he was Boris Johnson’s Scottish campaign chairman, tasked with co-ordinating pro-Johnson MPs, MSPs, councillors and party members in order to help install Mr Johnson in Downing Street.

Although the other candidate is not mentioned by name, Mr Thomson’s overpromotion of Liz Truss can also be read as a clear anti-Sunak message. However, if he wants to rally the Scottish Tories behind Ms Truss and against Mr Sunak, a more realistic portrayal of Ms Truss might have given his effort a bit more credibility.

Regina Erich. Willow Row, Stonehaven.

A harebrained beach scheme

Sir, – I write in utter disbelief about the plans this council’s administration have for our beachfront area. I am of the firm belief that this was a harebrained plan (like many others) inherited from the previous administration that the majority of the city population were glad to see the back of.

Along the promenade, the litter bins have been decorated and signs erected saying “resort information”. Is this a joke? We don’t even have a caravan site in or near to our city, in fact we don’t really have much of anything to attract visitors.

However, my main point is that so much has been done in this city against the will of the people in the past, now it is proposed to spend a vast amount of money we don’t really have to move Aberdeen FC’s football stadium approximately 500 metres, and in the process demolish an area of great importance that is used for sports practice – cricket, football, athletics and general fun and games – for the children.

What we already have will soon disappear if this scheme goes ahead. The baths and the facilities around it will go as has already been announced, and we will be left with no green space for leisure, for visiting circuses, shows and events of any kind to be held.

What sort of “resort” will this create?

Will the Beach Ballroom be hidden among it all, as was Provost Skene House when Marischal Square was created?

Who is to benefit from this, I wonder? How much will all this cost? Have the planners divulged this yet?

Come on planners/administrators, let’s get real, get this city cleaned up and on the map again, instead of wasting masses of money on these schemes that nobody really wants.

G Duncan, Donald Dewar Court, Aberdeen