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Readers’ letters: Renewable energy’s effect on environment, capercaillie risk of extinction and the clock change

In today's letters, our readers discuss renewable energy's effect on the environment, the possible extinction of capercaillie and the outdated clock change.

Construction work on the Coire Glas Pumped Storage Hydro Scheme on the shores of Loch Lochy in Lochaber. Image:
Sandy McCook/DC Thomson
Construction work on the Coire Glas Pumped Storage Hydro Scheme on the shores of Loch Lochy in Lochaber. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Sir, – Just when we thought the environmental damage couldn’t get any worse, energy giant SSE is now intent on damaging our precious, rapidly-diminishing mountain scenery even further, with the extortionate £1.5 billion Coire Glas pumped storage scheme (The Press and Journal, March 22).

This further lunacy demonstrates perfectly how utterly useless hundreds of SSE’s giant industrial wind turbines, carpeting our hills and now seas, are at providing constant, reliable energy as and when required.

Pumped storage is by definition not renewable energy. Our tides have been pumping vast quantities of water uphill for millions of years, twice a day, without the need for any giant bird-mincers, or ruined landscapes. It’s called tidal power.

The concrete required in hydro storage plants, for a paltry few extra minutes of back-up energy, is 18 times greater than even a nuclear plant which provides constant baseload power, day in day out, 365 days a year. The catastrophic damage construction traffic will cause doesn’t bear thinking about.

Nuclear plants in the UK, for example, require 2,025 times less land than wind.

The Great Glen and Scotland’s scenic grandeur should be permanently protected for us and our children to inherit. It really is the beating heart of our tourist industry and ought not to be trashed any further, because of an ill-thought-out energy policy.

If so-called renewables are so great for the environment, why do they keep destroying it?

George Herraghty, Lothlorien, Lhanbryde, Moray.

Bin the inhumane migration bill now

Sir, – George Emslie’s invective (Letters, March 18) against the EU, the SNP and asylum seekers suggests a susceptibility to populist propaganda. Unwittingly, he provides an insight into the confusion of unsubstantiated beliefs informing the right-wing mindset. His stridency is no panacea for inaccuracy and bias.

Drawing a comparison between SNP governance and Venezuela is ludicrous. My former company developed business there but this came to a shuddering halt when Hugo Chavez came to power. The economy went into freefall with many businessmen forced to leave the country.

The SNP is experiencing internal turmoil with many of its policies under critical review, but a distinction needs to be drawn between SNP governance and the cause of Scottish independence. If realised, the issue of EU membership will have a potency driven by 62% of Scots voting to remain.

It’s fatuous to suggest the EU is a dictatorship. As a member, the UK exercised its sovereignty in not joining Schengen, not adopting the euro, and voting Brexit. Margaret Thatcher was a prime mover in the creation of the single market – proof, if needed, of the UK’s influence within a democratic EU.

All asylum seekers are not coming here as other countries take more. In 2022, for example, Germany took 164,925, France 112,860 while the UK took 66,838. If passed, the Illegal Migration Bill will contravene international law (UNHCR 1951). Those seeking asylum can legally claim this in the country of their choice.

This inhumane bill reflects badly on our country and should be binned.

Ian D McCormick, Huntly Road, Aboyne.

Defend our fishing communities

Sir, – Kate Forbes’ clear statement of her intention to scrap the well-meaning and in-fashion but badly-thought-through plans to introduce a ban on commercial and recreational fishing in significant stretches of Scottish waters is exactly the strong and positive message of support our nation requires.

Image: Jason Hedges/DC Thomson

The devastating impact of closing fishing grounds would have led to many job losses, economic devastation in our coastal communities and put the lives of our valuable inshore fishing fleet at risk as they tried to make a living fishing in far away waters.

Crippling recreational fishing quite honestly makes no sense and shows a total disrespect to those who wish to fish.

Making these decisions takes courage and persuading eco and Green organisations who often fail to understand the importance of local committees shows a clear sign of strength.

It is a shame such a strength was not shown by past government before our valuable gas industry was put on hold which has led to our nation paying through the nose for our energy. Scotland desperately needs a strong leader and one who is willing to make the difficult call.

Andrew Charles, Golfview Road, Bieldside, Aberdeen.

SNP voters’ comic relief is welcome

Sir, – Having read the letters from Grant Frazer and Herbert Petrie it is clear they both appear to be having difficulty in understanding the causes of the ongoing implosion of their beloved SNP following the sudden resignation of the “still plenty in my tank” Nicola Sturgeon and her husband Peter Murrell. Let me try and help.

For example, the tell-tale signs of failure have been apparent for many years and were succinctly described by Prof James Mitchell when he said: “If you don’t listen to constructive criticism you end up in a whole heap of a mess”.

They didn’t consult, they didn’t listen. Gender recognition is an example of what went wrong.

In other words it is what happens when a political party becomes carried away with power and thinks it can govern by diktat – “It’s true because we have said it’s true.” One needs to look no further than the sheer brass neck of having the first minister’s husband as CEO of the same governing party – a certain recipe for disaster waiting to happen – and it did.

But perhaps the most damaging criticism which political commentators have levelled at the Murrells is that they had effectively gathered a group of dim-witted unquestioning acolytes, always willing to do their bidding and handed jobs and responsibilities far beyond their limited capabilities.

All they had to do was shout out loud and blame the Tories for everything which went wrong and pledge total loyalty to Nicola Sturgeon. Sounds familiar?

Outgoing First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as she arrived for her last First Minster’s Questions (FMQs) in the main chamber of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Image: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

The fact that the polls haven’t moved over the last eight years – despite Boris Johnson and Brexit – and this is as good as it gets for the SNP must be a difficult pill for them to swallow. It is correct to say that Kate Forbes was the only candidate that appeared to have some basic understanding of finance but Mr Frazer should be aware that her Tory pro-business views would not fit in well with the SNP rank and file and undoubtedly lead to the party splitting into factions.

Finally, whether the duplicity, dishonesty and arrogance which is synonymous with the SNP (aided and abetted by the Greens) can ever be addressed, only time will tell, but one thing for sure is that the comic relief expressed in these columns by Messrs Frazer and Petrie will continue to amuse us for the foreseeable future – and why not?

Ian Lakin, Murtle Den Road, Milltimber, Aberdeen.

Policeman’s lot is not a happy one

Sir, – I envisage a newspaper advert. Wanted – 34,000 individuals who have no racist, misogynistic or homophobic views and who desire to be police officers and replace the “boys’ club” who serve in Britain’s largest force.

Applicants must be aware that every day they will be putting their life at risk for the protection of others, willing to face abuse by the drunk, drugged and despicable, to accept being punched, kicked and spat upon without uttering any word that may offend, replace bully boy tactics by words of kindness and understanding that the person who has kicked you in the stomach may be suffering from an undiagnosed ailment, to be aware that all may be being recorded on a mobile phone, and if a review is published broadcast news will highlight the misdemeanours of officers while failing to applaud the heroism of those who lost their lives on duty.

Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

I’m well aware that individuals with the three laudable attributes do indeed exist, they appear almost daily on news programmes, the drawback is that they have no desire to be police officers. Much easier and certainly much safer to advocate reform than to put yourself in the firing line. The Met, in keeping with all forces, has in its ranks individuals that do not deserve the honour of wearing the uniform, but the vast majority will be like the public they serve – decent men and women, by no means perfect, but very few in society are without a blemish.

I’m no police groupie, just an old man who realises how much worse society would be without their presence and how much more rewarding to their efforts if laws were regarded by the miscreant as a deterrent rather than a joke.

So many conspire to ensure a policeman’s lot is not a happy one.

Ivan W. Reid, Kirkburn, Laurencekirk.

About time to stop changing the clocks

Sir, – The practice of the clock change has been going on for 107 years, introduced by William Willett saying it would save people burning coal. This has been confusing people all that time.

If you go to Greenwich where time is set for throughout the world (GMT), the clock at Shepherds Gate is always set at Greenwich mean time – it never changes so why mess with time in this modern day?

It was also said it helped the farmers during the war with the daylight savings. It’s time to go back to the norm like the rest of the world.

Don McKay, Provost Hogg Court, Torry, Aberdeen.

Too little, too late to halt the decline?

Sir, – I watched a programme on BBC Alba about the oil coming to Aberdeen in the 1960s, right through to the present.

It was an excellent programme for once.

The closing 15 minutes looked at the empty shops and businesses in the city, which was described as a city in decline. All the local business groups and the city council should take note.

As usual with the council, it’s a little too late.

A Riddel, Inverurie.

Conservationists need to listen up

Sir, – Your headline – When Sir David Attenborough talks we need to listen – should be turned around.

Sir David Attenborough, along with many other modern conservationists, need to listen to the SGA (Scottish Gamekeepers Association) and GWCT (Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust) over proper control of raptors and predators especially.

Pine martens, badgers and buzzards, etc, are protected and numerous and the capercaillie has very little chance of survival.

Capercaillie which is in rapid decline in the Scottish Highlands. Image: Michaela Walch/Shutterstock

Modern conservationists will be directly responsible for the extinction of the capercaillie along with many other species.

There’s no need for any more expensive research projects, the evidence is clear about what needs to be done. The Scottish Government must act now to save our most iconic species – the capercaillie, our waders and ground-nesting birds, etc.

Patrick Sleigh, Chairman NFUS North East ELU Committee, Oldmeldrum.

Support for blue light community

Sir, – The third anniversary of the first lockdown is a time to reflect on the impact on wellbeing of people in the NHS, emergency services, armed forces and social care sector. This community goes above and beyond for us every day, sometimes putting their own health and wellbeing in jeopardy to do so.

We’ve listened to the blue light community and what they’ve told us is clear – 62% have considered leaving their jobs because of how much they have impacted their day-to-day wellbeing.

Having served in the Royal Air Force, I understand first-hand how hard it is to process what you experience.

We’ve launched the Blue Light Card Foundation to ensure members of the blue light community have access to organisations and projects that can support their wellbeing. We are committed to giving back to those who dedicate much of their lives to keeping us safe.

Naomi Adie, General Manager, Blue Light Card Foundation.