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Readers’ letters: NatureScot’s Beaver reintroduction, A&E and council cost cuts

Beavers. Supplied by Trees for Life.
Beavers. Supplied by Trees for Life.

Sir, – Like most local folk in the Strathglass community I was shocked by Trees For Life’s (TFL) press release regarding the release of beaver in our community. This was the first many of us had heard about this latest bid by this organisation to reintroduce beavers in our area. The community council had not even been consulted.

Some years ago TFL held a public meeting in Cannich Village Hall to put forward their vision to introduce beaver in this area. They received no support from the community due to people’s concerns about the damage to the land and flooding these animals will cause.

In the east of Poland in the Biebrzanski National Park, the authorities reintroduced beaver as part of a so-called rewilding project. Some 25 or so years later the Polish government had to go to the European Parliament to apply to get the preservation order lifted on this species due to the destruction they were causing to the countryside.

They are now treated as vermin and are struggling to control the exploding population. I have visited this area many times and witnessed the destruction first hand.

The same is happening in the Americas, in Argentina and Chile – they have called it an ecological disaster.

Of the five so-called landowners offering their support for this project only two have land in or adjacent to the proposed areas for this release – one being Forest and Land Scotland. One of the others being the chairman of TFL!

If TFL, who own no land in this area, are so keen on beavers why don’t they release them on their own estate in Glen Morrison?

They are saying they will only release 16 animals but that will soon become 1,600, etc, as they are of the rodent family and breed as such.

We are now witnessing the destruction to the land and livestock caused by the irresponsible and illegal release of feral pigs (not wild boar as they are wrongly branded).

We have also had to witness the near annihilation of red deer in the Glen Affric area because of the supposed damage they cause to the land.

Why on earth would anyone want to bring back a species proven for their destructive nature?

I am incredulous that NatureScot would support such a scheme.

Angus Hughes, MacColl Road, Cannich, By Beauly.

Muirburn helps regeneration

Sir, – Colin Young’s comments (Letters, July 27) summarise many of the misconceptions about moorland management which could lead policy in a dangerous direction.

The key inaccuracy which must be corrected is that muirburn damages our precious peatlands. It doesn’t – it merely burns off excess vegetation which then regenerates over time.

The peat is not burnt, and recent science has shown it can actually help the peat to lock up carbon.

Recent evidence has also shown how important strategic muirburn is for combating the growing risk of wildfires, which burn into the peat and release carbon.

Moorland is managed for many concurrent activities including stock farming, grouse shooting, deer stalking, public recreation (often facilitated by estate roads), wildlife conservation, carbon lock-up and water supply.

This all-encompassing management system has led to unique assemblages of rare birds and mammals, many of which would become locally extinct if the open moorland habitat was taken over by woodland.

There is room for both, and sensible tree planting in suitable places should be supported – but not at the expense of the moorland landscape.

Indeed, a recent study in south-west Scotland found that in the Muirkirk and North Lowther Uplands, where gamekeeping has sharply declined, there was an 84% drop in golden plover population, as well as an 88% drop in lapwing and 61% drop in curlew.

There was also an 80% drop in black grouse attending leks around this region during an approximate 15-year period from the early 1990s.

We must not let misconceptions lead to demonisation of moorland owners and gamekeepers.

They work hard to look after Scotland’s uplands and deserve recognition for that.

Ross Ewing, Scottish Land and Estates, Eskmills Business Park, Musselburgh.

‘Just transition’ is a ruse for gullible

Sir, – The BBC’s excellent Big Oil vs The World shows the oil industry is never to be trusted when it has spent decades deliberately misinforming the public for its own machiavellian, misguided and myopic ends, wrongly claiming serious climate science is a hoax.

The consequences of which we are all living through and that is just as much a science fact as it’s always been. The climate predictions made in the 1970s and beyond have happened just as foreseen.

The same processes are at play with the oil industry’s grasp on the gormless politicians who’ve jumped through burning hoops asking “how high” in the recent history of Aberdeen.

‘Just transition’ is another ruse for the gullible just like the ads ExxonMobil and others placed in US media, as are the ideas that the Acorn Project, the Energy Transition Zone and hydrogen projects will be good for the city.

Carbon capture hasn’t ever been proven viable in a test bed scenario and Aberdeen’s hydrogen is sourced from one of the dirtiest fossil fuel companies around.

All these companies and individuals have been on the wrong side of history.

The fact that Torry and St Fittick’s Park and other parts of the city are still under commercial siege by these nefarious interests shows nothing positive is being or has been learned over the last 60 years.

Ian Beattie, Baker Street, Aberdeen.

Truss’s friends are gift to SNP

Sir, – Is the SNP running the Liz Truss campaign? A recent YouGov poll of Conservative party members shows Truss supporters are more in favour of having the SNP’s favourite bogeymen – Priti Patel, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Nadine Dorries and even Boris – in her Cabinet.

And someone has decided to unleash Dorries, their modern day Hyacinth Bucket, to hurl personal insults at Rishi Sunak in the papers. Truss swears it’s not her, so who else has a motive to get the old guard back, apart from Boris, Liz, and the golf club set?

If we’re to have a Tory government what I and many Scots would like is a cabinet top-heavy with experienced politicians – like those the survey says the pro-Sunak supporters want, such as Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid and, yes, Truss – to steer us through times that are beginning to make Covid look like a sneeze in the park.

It’s also the last thing the SNP needs right now.

Allan Sutherland, Willow Row, Stonehaven.

Cut A&E targets to rescue morale

Sir, – Setting targets that are unlikely ever to be met doesn’t seem to be at all a sensible course of action yet here in Scotland our leaders persist with the idea that 95% of patients arriving in A&E departments should be seen within four hours.

Month after month the figures are published showing that except in remote and sparsely populated areas the target is being missed by as much as 25%.

So what happens? Opposition politicians howl in anguish at the appalling figures, demanding the health secretary gets a grip of the situation or resign knowing full well, if for once they could be honest, that if they were in charge little if any improvement would be seen.

The need to collect data on performance is without dispute as without it ministers are blind and deaf, wandering aimlessly like a deer on the motorway.

Make targets less ambitious, most importantly for the morale of staff on the front line, and secondly to deplete the ammunition of the malcontents, so they stand a chance of being met.

The NHS is a monster with a voracious appetite, it could swallow the whole of the country’s GDP and still remain underfunded.

It will always be lacking in infrastructure and staff.

Although in its present form it will never meet the expectations of the public, we are so fortunate for its unquestioning presence in our hour of need.

I was proud to have spent my working life in its service.

Ivan W Reid, Kirkburn, Laurencekirk.

Council living in dream land

Sir, – After seeing your latest article on Union Terrace Gardens I began to think the council must be living in dream land.

Especially if they think they’ll deliver a new and much-needed development on the beach front within budget and on time. If we ever get the project going, as it’s taken ages at UTG to pour some cement and sow some grass seed which has cost millions.

A Simpson, Bridge of Don.

Cost cuts worrying

Sir, – Reading your article in Friday’s Evening Express really was disheartening, “Council faced with deep cost cuts”. As is often the case, it will be the vulnerable who will suffer, such as in the lack of housing, desperately needed for those that are now elderly, ill or disabled and those living under difficult circumstances through no fault of their own.

As was rightly mentioned, nurseries and schools are also at risk. I sometimes think how important a safe and secure childhood is, it is the foundation on which the rest of life is built on.

Libraries play a special place in our communities, especially as the cost of living seems to be getting worse not better and so I hope Dyce library will be sheltered from the cuts in funding.

The new recycling centre may also fail to materialise and we need to be making environmental care, easier not more difficult; in North East Scotland, we already see the serious effects of climate change.

The lack of funds to remedy these problems, is not in anyway the fault of the new administration, but inherited from the old and only a fool could claim otherwise.

Sean Ashley, Aberdeen.