Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Readers’ letters: SNP’s approach to oil and gas, masking up to help the NHS, and UK rocket emissions

Stephen Flynn, the leader of the SNP at Westminster.
Stephen Flynn, the leader of the SNP at Westminster.

Sir, – More than 50 years ago I moved to the north-east to join the North East Scotland Development Authority in its mission to reverse population decline and promote the creation of new jobs.

Shortly after I arrived BP announced a commercial oil discovery that turned out to be the Forties Field, stimulating a dramatic era of rapid development and ending the UK’s dependence on imported oil and gas.

It was always understood that, large as the North Sea reserves were, they were finite and, even in the 1970s, the case for developing alternative sources of energy was stimulated by over-dependence on Opec and the Middle East.

The industry that has grown up over five decades knows only too well that it needs to diversify and operators and the supply chain are increasingly investing in transition technologies using their capital and developed expertise.

However, for the Scottish Government to push for an end to further oil and gas development, for which they are neither responsible nor accountable, is the worst form of opportunist populism.

Every projection of transition to and achievement of net-zero energy recognises a continued if declining use of fossil fuels not just as a source of energy but as an essential feed stock for other products. Net-zero will be achieved by offset and carbon storage as well as alternative technologies.

The north-east of Scotland has contributed disproportionately to the UK economy (and balance of payments) for decades. Premature shutdown of this industry will not just destroy jobs but deny the sector’s capital and expertise to achieving transition.

Some local SNP representatives have indicated an understanding of this but have clearly no influence over the Central Belt-rooted first minister. The new Westminster leader of the party represents a north-east constituency. Will he stand up for our area and commonsense or kow tow to his party leader?

The SNP are naive if they believe that this ill-thought-through position will not cost them votes and seats.

Lord Bruce of Bennachie (Malcolm Bruce, MP for Gordon 1983-2015) House of Lords, London.

SNP should make way for Liberals

Sir, – I note that trade unions are criticising a new bill aimed at enforcing minimum service levels for the public sector during strike action.

They berate the proposed legislation as being “undemocratic, unworkable and illegal.”

MPs have been elected democratically and Parliament passes laws. So how can the proposed Tory legislation be undemocratic and illegal? Fantasy – pure and simple.

Unworkable? Now that’s a different argument – in which democracy may play little part. Enter Stage Right the ECHR – the European Convention on Human Rights, the legislation that allows unlimited access to the UK and it’s generous social security system to any person that risks a Channel crossing.

UK plc is broken. Starmer’s Labour Party will inherit the mess but the promised panacea, the land of milk and honey, will not be forthcoming. By all means, reform the House of Lords – an obscenity to democracy – but retain a second chamber to scrutinise legislation. The SNP prefer unicameral government – they abhor scrutiny, and rightly so. Their record of government is a record of failure and fiscal waste.

I hesitate to admit it, but maybe the Liberals deserve a go?

Bill Maxwell. Mar Place, Keith.

Put masks back on to ease NHS burden

Many NHS Highland staff struggled to cope with bullying and ended up suffering depression.
Image: Shutterstock

Sir, – Save an estimated 3,000 lives this winter by renewing compulsory masking and two-metre distancing where possible, I would suggest.

This would assist in the prevention of the spread of any new immune-resistant variant strain of Covid and other diseases in Scotland at this critical time in our year.

This is a real must to alleviate and help our overburdened, wonderful, hard-working NHS and relieve the pressure on admissions to our hospitals.

Stephen Jones. Burnside Place, Oban.

Sturgeon visible by her absence

Sir, – I attended the “We want Indy” debate and was astounded that the event pitched as vital to Scotland’s future was not graced by Nicola Sturgeon’s presence.

Instead, Angus Robertson droned on about Scotland’s “sovereign right to determine its governance”.

The best speeches were from Conservative Jackson Carlaw, and Labour’s Michael Marra.

Jackson Carlaw questioned what kind of indy mandate the SNP thinks it has, when they are propped up by the eight Green MSPs whose 34,999 votes in the 2021 Holyrood election meant 98.7% of voters rejected them.

Michael Marra stated the obvious: “there is a route to the destination that (the SNP-Greens) seek. Build a case – through honest deliberation and careful compromise – to allow the prosecution of the argument, build a coalition of those seeking change, build a consensus, a settled will of the Scottish people, and make it overwhelming”. Absolutely spot on.

However, they have failed to do this over 15 years and are running out of steam, ideas and, without Sturgeon and Salmond, talent.

This show will run and run.

Allan Sutherland. Willow Row, Stonehaven.

Sky-high cost of rocket emissions

Image: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Sir, – The first UK launch of a satellite, planned to take place from Newquay Airport, has ended in failure.

This had me wondering about emissions from rockets, and how they may affect the climate. I soon found a 2022 study lead-authored by Robert Ryan. They estimate that space industry’s global revenue will grow from $350 million in 2019 to more than $1,000,000 million by 2040.

The environmental findings of the study are disturbing. The warming efficiency of space tourism soot emissions is about 500-times greater than surface and aircraft sources of soot, and ozone depletion caused by the launches undermines the Montreal Protocol.

Isn’t it odd that the climate protest groups and influential individuals who regularly speak on climate are keeping quiet about this.

Geoff Moore Braeface Park, Alness.

One-trick pony is now dead donkey

Sir, – Shell may want to make a big deal about their “windfall tax” contribution but it’s little more than piecemeal posturing from the petrochemical industry, just like the oil industries’ current obsessions with appearing net-zero, claiming hydrogen is the future and there’s a credible case for carbon capture. With their admission of how little they have paid, some people may question why the HMRC has been so lax when accounting for Shell’s earnings.

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee report of January 5 shows that the politicians have left us all behind where we should be in the 21st Century regarding energy production and efficiency.

For them, irrespective of party persuasion, it’s been a case of catatonically jumping through burning hoops and hedonistically chasing notions of legacy, not that the future will be kind to any of those people.

Colette Cohen, of the Net Zero Technology Centre, also beggar belief when she suggested that the source of the emissions can allegedly be the solution. She’s on the same road to nowhere as the Tories, and spineless tax-break botherers OEUK. Or, it could be said on the same path to purgatory as the tyrants behind the muddled and misjudged miasma terrorising Torry’s much-loved and needed, for now and its future, public park.

The oil industry and its green-washed offshoots have failed to realise that they are no longer in charge, needed, or have quite the influence (apart from with the ultra-gullible politicians) as they once did.

They are, and history will show this, not so much a one-trick pony as a dropped-dead donkey.

Ian Beattie. Baker Street, Aberdeen.

NHS crisis due to lack of staff

Sir, – First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has led a new plan to tackle the crisis in NHS Scotland but fails completely to grasp the real problem of the desperate lack of staff – both in the NHS and nursing homes – which she cannot magic up to meet demand.

If she forces through a plan to move elderly and frail patients from hospitals to nursing homes then it will lead to further loss of life.

Nursing homes are facing the same staffing crisis as the hospitals.

Dennis Forbes Grattan Mugiemoss Road, Bucksburn.

Newgardens long overdue

Sir, – I would like to congratulate the council on the new Union Terrace Gardens.

This has been long overdue and has now given the city centre a new lease of life again.

We require less negativity just now and should unify to clean up Union Street and join up some of the amazing new developments that have been built in recent years in Aberdeen.

Ralph Kindness.