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Readers’ letters: Aberdeen seagulls and salmon farming has become a scapegoat

Gulls are the scourge of communities such as Torry in Aberdeen. Pic: Kris Miller/DC Thomson Media.
Gulls are the scourge of communities such as Torry in Aberdeen. Pic: Kris Miller/DC Thomson Media.

Sir, – Regarding Jenny Matheson’s letters (January 12 and 23), it never ceases to amaze me how uncaring some people can be.

To describe beautiful herring gulls, which are an endangered species, as flying rats just goes to show how their bird brain works.

And having a bird brain is a compliment to the poster as herring gulls are very intelligent creatures.

The problem is not too many gulls, but too many people encroaching on their natural domain.

We need to learn to live with nature and accommodate rather than destroy it.

One very bad example of modern design is the revamped art gallery in Aberdeen.

The architect obviously didn’t know we have gulls in the city, hence the glass roof now has unsightly scaffolding poles and nets to keep the gulls off.

Wouldn’t a design that accommodates the gulls, with perhaps a viewing platform so children could see the chicks being reared, be a much better idea?

Could I remind Jenny you don’t need to be a Green to be kind to other creatures we share our planet with.

A decline in the breeding bird population and being a winter visitor means herring gulls are red-listed in the UK, giving them the highest conservation priority and establishing them as a species in need of urgent action.

It’s so sad that some humans see the natural world, which we are destroying, as an inconvenience to their own lives.

Kudos to Inverness councillor Kate Willis, who clearly has a greater understanding of the facts.

Herbert Petrie, Parkhill, Dyce, Aberdeen.

Making scapegoats of salmon farming

Sir, – Paul Ryder (letters, January 9) writes that current marine farming practice is incompatible with the wild salmon population health.

He is clearly unaware that the head of ecology at Sepa told Holyrood’s rural economy committee in November 2020 that salmon farming was not responsible for the declines of wild salmon populations.

Three years earlier, the then Prince of Wales told guests at the Atlantic Salmon Trust’s 50th Anniversary dinner that wild salmon have increasingly failed to return to rivers across all of Scotland (including the east coast where there is no salmon farming) since at least the early 1980s and no one knows why.

At the same time, since catch records began in 1952, anglers have caught and killed around 5.9 million wild fish on their return to Scottish rivers to breed just for sport, and now wonder why there are none left.

The salmon farming industry has become the scapegoat for all that is wrong in the wild salmon sector.

I have been researching wild and farmed salmon interactions for 12 years and yet, despite strenuous efforts on my part, not one of the wild fish organisations in Scotland has been willing to sit down and discuss these issues because of my salmon farming background.

Meanwhile, wild salmon numbers are in decline and will continue to be so until they stop blaming salmon farming and start to address the real reasons.

Dr Martin Jaffa, Callander McDowell, Cheering Lane, Stratford, London.

SNP intransigence will cost taxpayers

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Image: Russell Cheyne/PA Wire

Sir, – It should come as no surprise to anyone that the UK Government has imposed a section 35 order on the Scottish Parliament’s Gender Recognition Bill.

The first minister of Scotland and her Cabinet colleagues were well warned that there were genuine concerns regarding this Bill and the fact that it goes beyond the competence of the Scottish Parliament and impacts on the equalities Bill which is a reserved matter for Westminster.

The Gender Recognition Bill was rushed through the Scottish Parliament at record speed with very little time for scrutiny. The concerns raised regarding the impact this Bill would have on women and the age and speed at which someone can change their gender were ignored with an “I know best attitude” by Nicola Sturgeon.

The issuing of the section 35 order is certainly not on the part of the UK Government driven by getting one up on the Scottish Parliament. Indeed Alistair Jack, the Secretary of State for Scotland, would have thought long and hard before coming to this decision.

It should always be remembered that the UK Government is sovereign over the Scottish Parliament and not the other way round. The Scotland Act provides a mechanism for the UK Government to move in situations where the Scottish Parliament may be overstepping the mark.

Perhaps rather than adopt her usual attitude towards the UK Government in turning this issue into another constitutional grievance match, the first minister of Scotland could listen to and address their concerns – otherwise it will be the Scottish taxpayer who pays the ultimate price in facing yet another unnecessary legal bill as the Scottish Government tries to fight this one out in the courts?

Mhairi E Rennie, Finlayson Street, Fraserburgh.

Keep children out of industrial action

Sir, – Seldom a morning breaks without a section of our workforce staging a strike, be it teachers in Scotland or ambulance staff south of the border.

Of course, it is the right of any worker to withdraw their labour except, thankfully, members of our police forces, whose presence in all areas of conflict prevent the country from slipping into the abyss.

But two recent instances of images from the picket line filled me with unease.

In one, two children of primary school age were seen defying the wind and rain to hold aloft the placards seeking a 10% pay rise in concert with striking teachers, while in another, a child of tender years was being led by a parent.

A flag which is an emblem of the strikers, dipped from his young shoulder on to the ground as he joined those adults on the picket line.

I doubt if the children in either of those instances have any real comprehension of the complexities of industrial relations, they are likely mere props to gain sympathy for the strikers.

Children have no place in picket lines, their time in childhood is a special period, so let it be enjoyed without involvement in the grievances of their parents.

Ivan W. Reid, Kirkburn, Laurencekirk.

Self-serving energy firms failing users

Sir, – The collapse of Britishvolt raises some interesting questions regarding the UK Government and its ability to perform any form of due diligence within the spheres of environmentalism and industry.

Aside from the gormless and grandiose pomposity involved in aspects of its demise, Westminster’s belief that this company would be part of some alleged new green economy seem as ill-judged as the not-so-jolly japes of all things Brexit.

However, with another round of oil licences being granted it’s abundantly clear that the belligerence of “business as usual” is as caustic as ever.

Continually treading the petrochemical path got us all in this mess meaning the UK Government, OEUK and Ofgem are up to their necks in their own self-serving agendas, giving every energy customer the poor-value end of the stick when it comes to their extortionate bills.

Similar questions of due diligence should be applied to the carbon capture and hydrogen schemes taking up too much time and public money at present as they have also been the root of equally catastrophic lack of judgment on the part of all levels of authority.

Ian Beattie, Baker Street, Rosemount, Aberdeen.

Politicians should wind their necks in

Sir, – One of the benefits of my job is being able to spend a little money in the local economy while having my break somewhere in Aberdeen or Aberdeenshire.

Last Monday it was break time in Alford up beside the recycling centre, and on the Tuesday it was at the BP station outside Port Elpinstone in the Inverurie area.

On each occasion I bought a Press and Journal which contained an interesting letter by Lord Bruce of Bennachie – Malcolm Bruce, the long- time Liberal Democrat MP for Gordon – and another about the minimum level of key services by John Godsman.

The good news for Mr Godsman is that I would not give politicians the satisfaction of calling me selfish either in my current role of delivering groceries or, thanks in part to my eldest daughter and the deal I could not refuse, birthday money for fuel in return for applying for suitable jobs in Peterhead. Training to drive buses by striking but clapping for key workers does not pay the bills.

She left me to driving questions and the other bits but set up an email account for replies as you might expect from someone aged 16 with no practical experience of driving a vehicle.

Someone will have to tell me why politicians seem to think they are the best people to run health and education rather than the experts in the field? Maybe Bethany could teach them a lesson on not to get involved in things you know not a lot about.

However, it is worth noting that the key services politicians keep out of – such as supermarket workers or bus and lorry drivers – are not going on strike whereas the ones they interfere in such as Royal Mail, education and health services are or may well withdraw their labour.

As someone who voted for Scottish independence in 2014 but whose first vote was for Menzies Campbell, Lord Campbell of Pittenweem, my politics are probably nearer to those of Lord Bruce of Bennachie than the first minister, aside from the independence issue.

However, unless they become less anonymous in places such as West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine and Banff and Buchan, and can offer a radical, credible and time-tabled reboot of the Union, then surely they will not be competing either for votes from SNP supporters who back independence or from disillusioned unionists who currently back the Conservative and Unionist Party?

Thomas Peter Ovenstone, Orchard Grove, Peterhead.

Time for us all to man the lifeboats

Sir, – In his latest offering (Letters, January 12) your regular nationalist correspondent, Peter Smith, ends with the sentence “we can do better on our own – man the lifeboats.”


Mike Masson, Oak Tree Avenue, Banchory.

Red card overdue for Green Party

Sir, – It’s disappointing your columnist Iain Maciver stated that Rishi Sunak doesn’t think Scots are grown up enough to decide things for ourselves.

What absolute tosh – maybe your columnist should read the devolution settlement when it states that one part of the Union cannot pass a law which affects the population of another member state, which the gender recognition Act plainly will.

It’s obvious to me that giving children the right to decide at eight years of age is shocking but typical of our Green Party who seem to be running our country

James Noel, Leggart Terrace, Aberdeen.

Price-match and avoid rising costs

Asda’s one of the many supermarkets that have seen prices of essential items rise as high as 50% in the past two months. Image: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Sir, – All shoppers know the stores by their sayings. We have Pounds not Points, Every Little Helps, Eat more for Less and many more to lure you into the stores.

But have you noticed the things we really need have risen by 20% and up to 50% over the past two months and the things that we don’t need and have no nutritious value have stayed the same or gone down in price.

Lidl and Aldi don’t do offers, the price you see is the price you pay – keep trying big supermarkets and price-match all essential foods.

Don McKay, Provost Hogg Court, Torry, Aberdeen.

Is the gender reform Bill a double bluff?

Sir, – Am I alone in thinking that Nicola Sturgeon planned all this before ever introducing the gender reform Bill?

She must have been well aware that the UK Government would never approve it.

I suspect that her devious plan has worked out just as she desired.

This is the ammunition she required. She can now accuse Westminster of ignoring the desire of the Scottish people.

I do however suspect that the vast majority of Scotland’s population had no desire to see this legislation, in its present form, ever becoming law.

Danny Grant, Aultbea, Ross-shire.

PM’s height of little interest

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been subject to criticism since taking office. Image: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Sir, – While I appreciate every person is entitled to their opinion, the latest rant by your columnist Colin Farquhar is just one in a long line of critical articles regarding the current government – this time Rishi Sunak.

May I say that, probably in a minority, but I ain’t interested in how tall Rishi is, if he has private health insurance or how much money he has in the bank. What I am interested in is that our airport has no services to the continent of note and a railway that has a dearth of services to anywhere south of Aberdeen except the capital.

May I suggest your columnist is just typical of the parochial press attitude that we have rammed down our throats on a daily basis.

Please address the main issues that confront this city – Rishi’s height ain’t one.

James Noel, Aberdeen

Note from the editor: To be fair to Colin, he agreed with you that the PM’s height – which had been raised by someone else – was irrelevant.