Sir, – Well done Highland Council for increasing the price of electricity at EV charging points by 130% (“EV charging cost will rocket as bid to keep rise at 10% collapses”, P&J March 10).
Shame on councillors Richard Gale, Trish Robertson and Angela Maclean for trying to land council taxpayers with the burden.
What a nerve they have.
Owners have to be rich to afford an EV. They received thousands in taxpayer-funded grants and free electricity and parking at council-owned charging points. One council in Scotland supplied £260,000 of free electricity.
Meanwhile, the UK public suffer eye-watering gas and electricity bills to which are added 12% green taxes which, deviously, are no longer disclosed in our bills.
Will Gale, Robertson and Maclean now demand that it is these green taxes that should be reduced, not EV owners’ electricity costs?
Clark Cross, Linlithgow.
Praise of Biden’s foreign policy experience ‘bonus’ is baffling
Sir, – Columnist Chris Deerin adds his name to so many who write in support of President Biden; he’s bit wobbly on the legs, as many octogenarians are when descending more than two steps, but such physical frailty pales into insignificance as his “experience in thinking about and shaping foreign policy is arguably a bonus when it comes to dealing with Vladimir Putin, Ukraine and the rise of China”.
So different from his predecessor Trump, who may again seek power as the Republican nominee in the next presidential election “in order to finish his country off”.
Now let us swap fantasy for reality.
During the Trump era, the world was a more peaceful place. Women and girls in Afghanistan enjoyed freedoms comparable to those in Western democracies. Dialogue was conducted with despotic leaders in Russia and North Korea – jaw-jaw always spills less blood than war-war.
Trump and Pompeo were a formidable force in diplomacy. The Donald even having the temerity to demand that Nato members dig deeper in their pockets to finance the organisation.
Biden’s victory brought an end to his reign as leader of the free world, a period of stability only to be shown as a false dawn by the disgraceful withdrawal of the Western allies from Afghanistan in the face of the Taliban army in their pickup trucks and motorbikes, leaving countless people who were promised a modern lifestyle to face retribution and a return to oppression.
An inglorious start to the Biden era quickly deteriorated even further when Putin, spotting frailties in Western leadership, sent his armed forces into Ukraine in an attempt to annex his peaceful neighbour.
As the tragedy continues, the call for negotiation from the White House to end the slaughter and devastation remains absent – only China sees its necessity.
Biden’s foreign policy experience in dealing with Putin – far from being a bonus – is woeful.
The evidence of its failure lie in the ruins of Ukrainian cities where so many innocents have perished.
Ivan W. Reid, Laurencekirk.
Scottish national hero is no myth
Take a walk into the centre of Aberdeen and have a look and see who the largest statue therein is dedicated to.
We have him to thank for still calling ourselves Scots, and his spirit lives on.
S Robertson, Kingswells.
Oil and gas are still crucial to economy
Sir, – I suspect I was not the only reader who noticed the irony of the two headlines next to Jamie Livingstone’s comment article of March 9.
If we are truly seeking to combat poverty in this country, it seems somewhat contradictory to seek to close down the oil and gas industry, given that the jobs in the energy sector have provided opportunities to thousands of families in this part of Scotland.
Jim Douglas, Aberdeen.
A different view from Newburgh
Sir, – Newburgh is one of my favourite places on the north-east coast. I used to stop there many a time to eat lunch while overlooking the estuary.
It would seem, however, that Newburgh also contains a world not often observed (thankfully!) by the majority in the area and its surroundings.
That other world centres around David Philip’s household if his letter regarding Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation (March 10) is anything to go by!
To allow David just a glimpse into the real world, here are just a few things we in the north-east in particular have benefited from during her leadership:
The AWPR, Balmedie bypass dualled to Ellon; the Emergency Care Centre in the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary; the soon-to-be-completed Aberdeen Maternity Hospital and Anchor Centre; new schools in Ellon, Alford, Inverurie, Altens, and the start of a new Community Campus in Peterhead.
Across Scotland, people have benefited from the Queensferry Crossing; the Borders Railway and £11 billion invested in rail infrastructure, and more than 1,000 schools built or upgraded. There are more than 100,000 new affordable homes; production of electricity from renewables has topped 95%, the dualling of the A9 is ongoing, and Scottish exports have increased year-on-year.
And, of course, the things no one wants – no prescription charges, no tuition fees, free eye tests, free hospital parking, free childcare and school lunches; free bus travel for young and old, and, of course, the baby box.
As much as I love Newburgh, I’m glad I live in the real current Scottish world, and not how David Philip sees it!
Douglas Black, Kingsford, Alford.
Native flora facing climate pressures
Sir, – The new Plant Atlas 2020 published by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) shows that non-native plants now outnumber native flora in the wild, with potential adverse implications for insects and other species.
New Zealand pigmyweed and Sitka spruce have become invasive; many montane (moist cool upland) ecosystems are in decline because of warmer weather.
The analysis derives from 30 million plant records linked to more than 3,000 species involving 9,000 botanists.
Many wildlife habitats have been adversely affected by the widespread use of fertilisers. Grazing pressure and climate change have led to a decline in heather and harebell, and grassland reseeded or over-fertilised have resulted in a 62% reduction in wildflowers like corn marigold.
Increasing average temperature is the primary cause of fewer alpine lady-ferns, speedwell and snow spearwort. Peatlands are also of concern.
And so it goes on.
But do these findings matter? Probably. Because of the complex inter-relationship between ecosystems and how they affect the richness of biodiversity.
Apparently, it’s not too late to act and reverse the trend of progressive decline.
However, the experts say that about our planet too – but consider where we are now and the catastrophic weather events we witness daily.
Bill Maxwell, Keith.
It’s about views and not religion
Sir, – In a bizarre and intemperate rant, Donald J Morrison denies Kate Forbes’s religiously founded alleged homophobia while emphasising his belief in Biblical sin, a word he uses six times. (Letters March 3)
He concludes: “The real problem is that Mr Barber has a hatred for religion and faith.”
Not so. Ms Forbes is perfectly entitled to her religiously informed views, as we are entitled not to vote for her because of them – her views, not their religious derivation.
Mr Morrison should know I similarly have no hatred for the Loch Ness monster.
Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society.
Benefits make plunge worth it
Sir, – Donald MacKenzie in his letter of March 8 asks humorously whether yes voters are a bit daft like his niece who took up swimming in Loch Ness.
It’s not hard to see the parallels though in the rationale of this lassie.
Why do people take up wild swimming in such numbers? Because although there is a temporary shock, it quickly feels normal and they see long-term benefits.
The fearties tutting on the shore suffer in the long run for their lack of courage.
I say to Mr MacKenzie, go on, take the plunge, sir. You’ll love it once you’re in.
Peter E. Smith, Aigas, Beauly.
Better to have the devil you know
Sir, – John McLeod (Letters, March 8) writes well on the poor performance of the UK Government and the need to question the direction of the nation – but hits the nail when he states that Labour policies are not greatly different to those of the Conservatives.
The question he should ask is who will take back control?
We have elected, at both Westminster and Holyrood, a series of third-rate politicians who could not live with real political giants like MacLean or Maxton or, dare I say it, Thatcher.
Independence is not the answer if we have no governance. What we need is someone to rise above the dross and give us a reason to believe.
The SNP have had countless opportunities to show they can lead Scotland on a world stage, but every policy they control under devolution is arguably worse than when they took over – police, NHS, education, local finance.
If they’ve been unable to better frankly poor Westminster governments, what chance do we have if we give them complete control?
Better the devil you know (bad can get better) at Westminster than the long-term mediocrity offered by Holyrood.
Walter Service, Danestone.
We need education not more benefits
Sir, – The recent first minister debate highlighted yet again why devolution has and continues to be a disaster under the SNP.
With the SNP, devolution has been used as a means to independence and undermining the UK Government rather than focusing on their devolved responsibilities, which include health, education and policing.
A prime example of this is that during the debate, all three candidates spoke about eradicating child poverty – not one said they would invest more in education, because as we all know, a good education is a way out of poverty. Instead, they focused on blaming the Tory government, with their solution to child poverty being to increase the child payment.
Scotland used to have the gold standard for education, which went a long way in providing individuals with more opportunities and, in turn, reducing child poverty.
Surely aiming for this again would be a better incentive rather than just increasing benefits?
It has become too easy for the SNP to take the easy way out and blame all Scotland’s issues on the UK Government and then claim they are the defenders of devolution and all problems could be resolved by independence.
This was a major trait during the Sturgeon era and looks set to continue under her successor.
I’m sure many individuals will look back to the days before the Scottish Parliament when Scotland was run out of the Scotland Office in London and appeared to be better managed, and wonder if it was worth gaining Holyrood.
Mhairi E Rennie, Fraserburgh.
Contestant shot for moon – and missed
Sir, – In a recent episode of the quiz show the Tipping Point, a contestant was asked: “What extremity on the Earth did US Naval officer Robert Peary discover in 1909?”
The answer given was: “The Moon.”
Unbelievable. Even the presenter was momentarily lost for words.
Surely contestants for such quiz shows on TV have to pass some form of general knowledge test before they appear on camera. It appears not.
But the question is, do the producers of such shows think that entertainment is a case of people making total fools of themselves, to the extent of gross embarrassment in front of millions of viewers?
If so, then the criteria for such participants needs to be changed. In many instances, the words “short” and “planks” come to mind.
John Reid, Keith.
EV charging a real boost
Sir, – As an EV owner and user of Aberdeenshire Council charger infrastructure, I congratulate them on introducing a fair charging structure that is affordable yet takes into account the current energy crisis.
I particularly welcome the introduction of an off-peak charging rate as well as a substantial overstay charge.
A good balance has been struck between encouraging EV ownership and affordability to the council. Well done.
Graham Castle, Canmore Park, Stonehaven.
Scots stand up to the meanies
Sir, – We live in a democracy in Scotland.
We are entitled to our views and free speech, however much you may disagree.
For the avoidance of any doubt, the independence movement isn’t the fiefdom or exclusive to any one political party in Scotland.
In fact, there will be Labour, Green, Alba, SNP supporters of independence, as well as Scots not currently aligned with any political party, but supporting the cause of independence.
Given regular polls, more than half of Scots don’t want to be ruled by Westminster – just ask Gary Lineker what he thinks of the Westminster Government.
People are making their stance against governance from Westminster that’s not only incompetent but downright mean.
Ken Reid, Banchory.