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Readers’ letters: Highlanders commuting, Rishi Sunak’s politics and dress sense, and what net-zero means

Readers' letters: Highlanders commuting, Rishi Sunak's politics and dress sense and what net-zero means

Sir, – Highlands and islands Greens are pleased that the new Dalcross station is soon to open – it will provide benefits for the whole area.

We are pleased that the line through it is dualled, so there is now a passing loop at the station, though really the whole line should be redualled to enable a fast, frequent passenger service and full freight capacity.

The expanding community of Tornagrain has been well designed as a new community to make use of the new station, with an active travel path being built which will link it to the new station, and the train service will be much faster than the current bus which effectively means most people drive to the airport.

One frustration is that the suggestion of Highland Cycle Campaign, that there should be a ramp as well as a lift, seems to have been ignored. The lifts could easily be overwhelmed and delay journeys, and what would happen if they break down?

Dualling rail costs a third of the amount of dualling roads and it’s a scandal that this has not been prioritised. The Greens’ deal with the SNP aims for a 20% cut in car use. That would mean less car travel and more rail and active travel, so that’s where the money should be spent. However, we know that island communities will always need some flights and these tend to go from Dalcross (Inverness) Airport. Enabling part of the journey to be by rail does cut the overall emissions of the journey.

Rail is also much safer than road transport. Building segregated active travel and rail capacity and a better bus service coupled with average-speed cameras would make much more of an impact on journey safety than simply building more roads. We would want to see a modal shift for many short-haul flights from air to rail.

We would also like to see a lot more freight moved to rail. Much driver frustration and dangerous driving is caused by freight which should really not be there. Doing this would also have obvious advantages in costs and reduce the problems of Brexit-induced haulage driver shortages which is also causing a lack of bus drivers. The current short loops mean that the maximum number of carriages is only 20 whereas many of the engines can pull 28 so simply having longer passing loops would mean capacity could increase by 40%. We are hoping that West Fraser (previously Norbord) and other businesses will at last realise the benefit of being situated so close to the railway.

We are already seeing the effects of climate change, which we have warned about for many years, causing devastation around the globe – often to communities which have contributed least to the rise in greenhouse gases.

We need a dramatic cut in carbon emissions if we are to be able to pass a planet worth living on to the next generation, and simply swapping fossil fuel cars and planes for electric ones will not be enough. Half the carbon footprint of a car is in its manufacture.

I use bike and train for my commute from the Black Isle to Nairn and I’m pleased to see trains now have six bike spaces.

Hibikes ebikes are also available at Inverness Station. I’m hoping to see a lot more people joining me in combining train and bike for their journeys.

Anne Thomas, Co-convenor and External Communications Co-ordinator, Highlands and Islands Green Party, North Kessock.

Why mollycoddle the oil protesters?

Sir, – They haven’t hit the A96 or A9 yet but I watched newscasts in disbelief as Just Stop Oil protesters brought the streets of London to a halt, and now the M25.

One of their numbers climbed a gantry atop the M25 whereupon (somewhat unbelievably) the police closed the motorway on health and safety grounds in case the protester fell from his perch and got pancaked by passing traffic.

I suspect such an outcome would have won the approval of many. And why aren’t water cannons being deployed to clear the streets, as would happen in other more sensible places?

It’s plain as day we can’t go on without oil or gas, and with madman Putin calling the shots in that department the government did the right thing by issuing exploration licences. A bit delayed, but nevertheless spot on.

I wonder how the SNP would deal with these protests? Methinks their bedfellows the Greens would be out with blankets and flasks of coffee. How deranged is it possible to be?

Keith Fernie, Drakies Avenue, Inverness.

Scots can balance their own books

Sir, – Surely by now everyone must know how bad it is for Scotland being part of this Union. Scotland has a tax take of £70.03 billion, £13 billion more than New Zealand, and that is without counting North Sea revenues.

How on earth can we have debt when we balance the books every year on a fraction of our tax take?

The only reason I can see is that we are part of this Union that keeps losing our money, be it Black Wednesday, Brexit, the mini-Budget or billions to Tory mates and donors, not to mention the House of Lords etc. Basically, bad decisions by our neighbours.

Once we leave there will be negotiations for our share of the Army, Navy, Air Force and overseas properties. We could even see our Highland regiments back that the Tories disbanded. Those politicians who supported the No vote all benefited at Scotland’s expense.

Always remember those and their lies, we are not “better together”.

Let’s make sure it’s a resounding Yes once our mandate for a referendum is honoured.

Herbert Petrie, Parkhill, Dyce, Aberdeen.

NHS staff are being taken for granted

Sir, – I heard the news that proposed strike action by NHS nursing staff will provisionally go ahead unless the Scottish Government increases its pay offer. For the strike to go ahead would mean an ever-increasing pressure on the NHS and take weeks to plan for services within it.

With a massive amount of people seeking help from the NHS every day, in my opinion, it needs to be remodelled to suit today’s increasing population.

For a new NHS to assist people there needs to be a close inspection of why medical practices and emergency centres are being overwhelmed by far too many people wanting help with very minor ailments. For far too long the NHS staff have been taken for granted and they now deserve help at once. No strike will achieve a satisfactory result and no one wants to lose cash so near to the winter.

My present ailments cause me great concern but I know what the NHS staff are going through and I totally respect their actions – my thanks to them.

Gavin Elder, Prunier Drive, Peterhead.

Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk

Sir, – PM Rishi Sunak urged world leaders to move “further and faster” in the transition away from fossil fuel technology. He further pledged to make the UK a “clean energy superpower”.

However, the fact is that the UK Government is making the climate crisis worse by the tacit approval of many new oil and gas exploration licences, trying to renew fracking and maybe opening a new coal mine in England.

With weather-related disasters increasing around the world in terms of floods and fires, drought, famine and rising temperatures, the UK Government’s actions since Glasgow’s COP26 have been questionable at best. Fine words must be matched by clear actions.

Grant Frazer, Cruachan, Newtonmore.

Promises to curb CO2 are hollow

Sir, – William Morgan’s letter (November 9) is very interesting. It highlights hugely important issues for us, economic, political and societal.

The Earth’s climate is controlled by a multitude of variables, many ill-understood.

The focus has been on man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) as the villain of the adverse climate change piece.

CO2 does play a small role in worsening climate changes but with its atmospheric proportion of 0.04% and its infrared (IR)- blocking greenhouse gases (GHG) functions impaired by saturation of its CO2 binding power, it is but a relatively minor influence.

It is responsible for less than 5% of the GHG in the air.

There are about 30 molecules of water vapour, including clouds, per one of CO2.

Water vapour molecules’ IR-blocking power is twice that of CO2. The sun, with always varying activity, controls water vapour activity, along with cosmic rays from space.

Solar influences and cosmic rays are, of course, beyond our control.

Thus, as reported by scientists in Denmark, (Hendrik Svensmark), Canada (Longfoot and Ratzer, 2021) and Israel (Shamir), water vapour accounts for more than 95% of the atmosphere’s GHG.

CO2’s previous putative primacy of villainy depends on faulty computer predictions, rife with internal disagreements, though still used by the UN’s climate change committees. Failure to allocate sufficent importance to water vapour compounds the computer program errors.

Thus, with CO2 exonerated, the Western nations’ huge investments in decarbonisation – at least £3 trillion by 2050 for the UK alone – are going to waste by aiming at CO2 reduction, the wrong target. CO2 is necessary for the growth and proliferation of vegetation, it is not a pollutant. At air concentrations of much less than the present 400 parts per million, vegetation would be stunted or die, fatal for us and the creation.

Will authorities in the West take note of these up-to-date analyses then follow the policies of those in the eastern world – China, India and many more?

Together, these non-complying eastern nations release most of the world’s GHG, including CO2.

Their promises to curb CO2 output have been, essentially, hollow. Their burgeoning dependence on fossil fuels, including coal, very greatly helps their energy supplies for industry and homes. Their energy policies give no end of support to their finances, industries and societies.

Ours can only damage us.

Charles Wardrop, Viewlands Road West, Perth.

What exactly do we mean by net-zero?

Sir, – We are a country that appears to be full of environmental experts – therefore can someone answer these two simple questions?

Can we make and use wind turbines, tidal machines, nuclear power plants, electric-hydrogen vehicles, distribute electricity, operate computers, have modern road, sea and air transport systems without using fossil fuels now or within the next 100 years?

What actually is meant by the words net-zero?

Jim Leitch, Evie, Orkney.

Sunak could be the perfect fit

Sir, – The total chaos within the Conservative Government as of late is unprecedented. In short, one could well be forgiven for wondering if it could hold itself together to see out its current term of office.

The dust is now settling and while neither PM Rishi Sunak nor Home Secretary Suella Braverman would have been my choice for the ministerial positions they now hold, I can see signs of positivity in both.

Braverman, in particular, I believe, will prove to be a determined and somewhat resilient character and will stand her ground on many issues she will be faced with.

As for PM Rishi, he may surprise us all and turn out to be a good leader for government and indeed his Conservative Party.

However, when it comes to dress sense one could be forgiven for thinking Sunak’s suits are short in both sleeve and trouser length, having come ‘off the peg” from a good quality charity shop.

As for his parliamentary performances. Thus far, I am moderately impressed, but for how long remains to be seen.


Bishop was taxi regular

Sir, – I was saddened to hear of the passing of Bishop Mario Conti.

I and many in Aberdeen have many great memories of the former Bishop of Aberdeen and latterly Archbishop of Glasgow.

In his time in Aberdeen, he championed Aberdeen and the north-east of Scotland. He regularly used the local taxi firm where I worked.

A kind man with lots of stories to tell you, whether you were a believer or not.

Michael North, Lang Stracht, Aberdeen.