Sir, – Much has been commented on by the local media regarding the recent Big Noise controversy.
The local Tory Ferryhill councillor Michael Kusznir has been very vocal on the decision by councillors Christian Allard and Lee Fairfull where they questioned whether the council’s contribution to Sistema actually represented good value to the average resident of Torry.
They concluded that during a time when the city council is struggling to find the cash to keep vital services running, it was possibly unfair to continue to fund Sistema to the tune of £700,000 per year, given its limited benefits.
The only figures quoted publicly within this debate regarding Big Noise’s actual benefit to Torry are from Sistema themselves. They claim they help 750 children of all ages through after-school clubs, primary schools and the academy in Torry. But is that 750 individual youngsters receiving help and tuition, or 750 youngsters who may have access if they have the abilities or desire?
Sistema has received reasonably large sums from the council over the years, so surely there needs to be some type of independent audit to ensure that money is being used effectively.
Unlike Michael Kusnzir who, being in opposition, was happy to decry any decision he could capitalise on politically, councillors Allard and Fairfull decided to see the bigger picture and look at whether and how the contribution to Big Noise improved things for all of their constituents.
That is the type of local councillors we all need.
Douglas Black, Kingsford.
UK uses too much imported timber
Sir, – Your article (The Press and Journal, March 3) claiming it will cost £2 billion to create 185,000 hectares of native woodland which will sequester (absorb) 28 million tonnes of carbon over the next 30 years cannot be correct or at least requires clarification.
In terms of cost, £2 billion over 185,000 hectares equals £10,810.81 per hectare. It is costing us £2,100 per hectare to deer fence, plant with native trees and beat up, for which we receive £2,070 per hectare planting grant plus £1,530 per hectare maintenance over five years. The £2 billion private sector investment must be to buy the land, not to create the native woodland.
Claiming that 185,000 hectares of native woodland will sequester (absorb) 28 million tonnes of carbon over the next 30 years equals 5.05 tonnes of carbon absorbed/hectare/year. The average growth rate of native Scots pine here in Badenoch is around 6m3/hectare/year. 1 m3 of Scots pine when growing equals approximately one tonne of which 60% of the weight is water.
The dry matter growth rate of native Scots pine in Badenoch is therefore around 2.4 tonnes/hectare/year, not all of which is carbon.
Britain contributes just 1% of the world’s net greenhouse gas emissions from our activities and land use here in Britain, but around 5% if we take account of everything we consume. This is because we have replaced production of many of the goods we consume with goods grown or manufactured overseas.
Most goods we consume we import based on price with insufficient consideration for net greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, biodiversity, security of supply, livestock or human welfare.
Between 1997 and 2018 CO2 emissions associated with UK imports from China increased by 64%.
Today, Britain imports 81% of the forest products we consume, some from unsustainable sources overseas.
If we want to reduce our net greenhouse gas emissions we need to invest in woodland in the UK that will provide us with more of the forest products we require.
These woodlands will also absorb more carbon for longer than native trees grown on marginal ground primarily to obtain carbon credits.
Jamie Williamson, Alvie Estate Office, Kincraig.
Robson skills will bring stability
Sir, – As a lifelong Dons fan – now due to age and infirmity from the Mearns rather than the theatre of Pittodrie – the downward drift in achievement, the recent revolving door to the manager’s office, and the hiring of so many players “on loan”, makes me yearn for stability to build a foundation for success, not immediate, but long term.
A new chief executive has been appointed, soon to be followed by another manager/coach and such is the desire to be part of a “big club” the hopefuls come from both home and overseas.
It will come as no surprise if the chosen one does come from beyond our shores. The opinion is that foreign equates to better judging by the exposure on our screens of the special few at the helm of the top tier giants south of the border.
Realism must take centre stage with all connected to the club from directors, sponsors and fans. The present status of the club is only average in a league whose best in European competition are embarrassed by their mediocrity.
With Barry Robson in charge a top-four position may yet be achieved, with the reward of a handful of games against modest continental opposition, before the dreams die on some foreign field.
The shape of future success will be much changed from what we were privileged to witness during the Fergie era, more modest targets such as being best of the rest in our Premier league, qualification for group stages in Europa League competition and, to add icing to the cake, a regular place in the Pittodrie cabinet for a domestic trophy.
Could the local lad now caretaker – if given permanency – be the one to bring stability and success?
Ivan W Reid, Kirkburn, Laurencekirk.
McCrone ‘report’ hijacked by SNP
Sir, – Regarding Peter Stevenson’s letter (March 4), it is now some time since I have seen reference to that old chestnut and piece of political archaeology (digging up the past).
The so-called “McCrone Report”, now almost 50 years old and allegedly from the “sly tricks era of the 30-year suppression” according to Mr Stevenson.
Professor Gavin McCrone has repeatedly rejected that there was any such “report”.
In 1974, it was a memo he created that then lay, like other countless government papers, dormant (not buried) until 2005.
It was then hijacked, manipulated and bandied around by the SNP/Indy conspiracy theorists to support the potential financial viability of independence.
It is very telling that Prof McCrone is rarely interviewed on his “report” by independence supporters. Also, in his latest book published in 2022, After Brexit: The Economics Of Scottish Independence, he is pretty pessimistic on how an independent Scotland would fare.
So there we have it.
William Morgan, Midstocket, Aberdeen.
Deposit scheme has to be binned
Sir, – The fact that one of Scotland’s largest drinks brands refused to sign up to the SNP’s deposit return scheme shows its utter impracticality.
One of Scotland’s largest drinks producers, voiced its frustration at the SNP Government’s stubborn refusal to listen to its concerns.
With around 80% of producers in Scotland ignoring the deadline for this scheme, it is clear that the SNP policy is unfit for purpose and needs to be revised.
The SNP must immediately pause the scheme and work with industry to design a scheme that works across the whole of the UK and which won’t put Scottish firms out of business.
Councillor Alastair Redman, Kintyre and the Islands Ward.
SNP silence Big Noise
Sir, – How proud the SNP Torry councillors must be of themselves over the comments they made with the withdrawal of funding for Big Noise.
They have obviously forgotten that the project is the legacy of an ex-colleague, Jim Kiddie.
What do their comments say to the parents, grandparents and carers of Torry – your children have no value?
I am sure they will say difficult decisions had to be made and they continue to fight for the residents of Torry. What a joke.
Ian Wright, Torry.
Don’t blame Tories
Sir, – I feel compelled to write and vent my anger at the announcement of the closure of the Beach Leisure Centre, ice rink and other pools.
The Scottish Nasty Party should have opened this centre for tender and-or requested funds from the many rich oil companies.
Furthermore, I have it on good authority that they have “earmarked” £20 million for the beach promenade. There is nothing wrong with the beach and I would certainly bet with assurance that more people would utilise the leisure centre than use the promenade which does not need upgrading.
This brings me to Union Terrace Gardens. The council refused money from Sir Ian Wood and instead spent millions “improving” a little-used space in the city centre – nor did they even refurbish the Victorian toilets underneath to their former glory.
Let us just blame the Tories as the SNP have a propensity of doing – the same party who paid for furlough and vaccinations.
We could be like many Scandinavian countries and charge motorists £2 to enter the city at two or three toll booths, raising money and cutting down on fuel pollution.
On this subject, between Bridge Street and Guild Street are at least eight sets of traffic lights. Should we not close Guild Street to cars other than taxis and buses? It takes ages for workers heading to and from work. If people go to the train station it’s not difficult walking through the car park on South College Street.
Whoever votes for these losers needs to think – Scotland has too many on benefits rather than working. Now one can see why Indy cannot pay one’s pensions nor explain currency.
I would safely bet that after 80-odd years the SNP cannot and will not achieve independence.