Balance needed

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Martyn McLauglin’s well-timed and reasoned piece reminds us that by now we should surely be debating the findings of the promised research into fracking to ensure that we have an eventual balanced decision (It’s time to get the full facts on fracking in the open, 10 August).

While the Scottish Government started out on its various reviews with a flourish of comforting assurances about looking at all the facts before taking a decision, the passage of time has seen a progressive hardening in their rhetoric. This suggests that political expediency has overtaken them.

There is no doubt that many of the SNP’s core supporters are against fracking with a passion, but Scotland deserves better than making critical decisions on the basis of protecting the SNP’s popularity.

The difficulty for the First Minister is that priorities have shifted.

Since the Brexit result, many in the SNP have been getting on to a campaign footing, poised to revisit the issues addressed in 2014. If that is the case, the last thing the First Minister will want to do is to upset grassroots activists who she will be depending upon to get out on the streets and the internet to promote the SNP’s new post-Brexit vision.

Will dogma or evidence be the basis of the final decision? Just now the former seems likely to get its way.

Keith Howell

West Linton, Peeblesshire

Those who protest that fracking would present few risks in the UK because of our more stringent safety regulations should be crossing their fingers behind their backs.

Fracking has the potential to cause severe localised pollution and does not compensate by reducing carbon emissions to any significant degree.

Renewables, in conjunction with measures to reduce our energy consumption and to increase energy conservation, will give us the best chance of sustaining human life in the future without destroying our fragile planet.

The European Energy Centre suggests that security of our gas supply could be obtained by increasing gas storage capacity reserves. Apart from being much less controversial than fracking, this would also be more energy efficient.

Political decisions are influenced by public opinion. People living in areas ear-marked for fracking should be sceptical about Theresa May’s plans to give financial inducements/sweeteners to affected households.

Carolyn Taylor

Wellbank, Broughty Ferry

Even-handed

The First Minister keeps insisting that she will fight for what Scotland voted for in the 2016 EU referencum ie to stay in the EU.

As a democrat should she not also fight for what Scotland voted for in the 2014 referendum ie to stay in the UK. It is rather hypocritical and frankly an affront to democracy to respect and fight for the people who voted in one referendum but to betray those who voted in another.

(Dr) Roger I Cartwright

Turretbank Place, Crieff

Recent pronouncements by SNP politicians have been surprising to say the least. MSP Alex Neill says (Scotsman August 11) there is “little chance” of Scotland staying in the EU after Brexit. This chimes in with MEP Alyn Smith’s recent statement that EU accession – presented as “automatic” in 2014 – would be “anything but automatic”.

On the prospects of the economy in an independent Scotland we have had MP George Kerevan’s forecast of at least five years of “painful” austerity and MSP Kenny Macaskill’s admission that freebies such as prescriptions and university tuition could only be funded by increasing taxes – confirming MP Angus Robertson’s admission that “not everything is going to be easy”.

None of these pronouncements comes as a surprise to informed observers but they are a far cry from the Utopian rhetoric of 2014. Dissension in the SNP ranks is virtually unheard of – so what is going on here? Rather than an uncharacteristic outbreak of honesty is this a carefully planned policy of getting the voters accustomed to inconvenient truths by gradual drip-feeding?

Colin Hamilton

Braid Hills Avenue, Edinburgh

While, to a great extent, I sympathise with those in Scotland who are still very frustrated with the result of the EU referendum and feel very strongly that Scotland’s decision to remain in the EU merits special consideration, the stark fact is the referendum was held on a UK wide basis. Hence, the question as it appeared on the ballot paper was, “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” Dealing with hypotheticals is not going to change things - the UK decided (by the slimmest of margins) to leave the EU and no matter how unpalatable that fact is to many people - myself included - the electorate has spoken.

George Wilson

Easter Drylaw Avenue, Edinburgh

I just watched an excruciating interview of Nicola Sturgeon on the German ARD TV station.

It got off to a bad start when the interviewer expressed bemusement that she was there at all and only seeing a junior minister for Europe, Philip Roth, not the Chancellor or foreign minister, and it went downhill from there when she dodged questions on the date for Indy2 and details of her fantastic “Scotland in UK and EU” plans.

The Whitehall mandarins who got her into the diary will be purring with glee that their “give her enough rope” strategy is working but this is so embarrassing for Scotland.

When is this woman ever going to realise there is a big wide world out there that doesn’t revolve around Nicola Sturgeon and her obsession with independence?

Allan Sutherland

Willow Row, Stonehaven

First class

I was surprised to read in the Scotsman (August 9) that Edinburgh Airport was rated worst in the UK for disabled assistance.

Admittedly our experience has been limited to using them for the first time this year on two occasions, but I can only say the assistance was absolutely first class in all respects on both occasions.

I assume therefore that steps have been taken to improve the situation since the report was compiled which seems to be the case and that this will continue

W Graham Watson

Spoutwells Drive, Scone, Perthshire

Democratic woe

The kiss of death has been administered on Owen Smith’s leadership campaign. An endorsement from Ed Milliband, perhaps not the best person to hand out wining advice, he will surely not cherish.

The advantages seem to be falling one after another to Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, despite the backing of a major union for his opponent. The Trotskyite elements in their many thousands, so identified by Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, himself on the left of the party, have successfully infiltrated.

Back in the 1980s there were similar rumblings but Militant Tendency was repelled; ironically it is Ed Milliband’s “three quid memberships” that have allowed them to be able to flood back in and now fill the positions of influence in the constituency parties and to choose the leader.

How sad it all is for democracy.

Alexander McKay

New Cut Rigg, Edinburgh

Eagle-eyed

The Scottish Government has reacted swiftly to the news that yet another tagged eagle has been reported lost, presumably illegally killed, in the Monadhliath Mountains. We are to have an investigation. Roseanne Cunningham has reminded sporting estates that they must respect the law.

Commendable though this is, I am left wondering how the Scottish Government can leap so virtuously to the defence of eagles while the ink is still drying on the paperwork that will pave the way for a massive 67-turbine wind farm the size of Inverness to be built – with the same government’s blessing – on those same Monadhliath Mountains, one of Scotland’s last remaining places of true wildness and a haven for eagles.

The Scottish Government and SSE recently won their appeal to have consent for the notorious Stronelairg project reinstated after an earlier ruling had found in favour of wild land charity John Muir Trust, which had sought a judicial review to halt the scheme.

If the Scottish Government is truly committed to protecting Scotland’s wild land resource, would it please explain to the rest of us how its much-vaunted Wild Land Map (from which the Stronelairg area mysteriously disappeared on the eve of publication) can have any credibility when the same government is actively engaged in promoting the destruction of remote upland areas and key wildlife habitats across Scotland?

The Stronelairg decision sets an ominous precedent for the treatment of wild land in Scotland. It is a far, far greater threat to the future of our eagle population than illegal poisoning, trapping and shooting ever could be.

Jane Meek

Glagow Road, Blanefield

In memoriam

The late Duke of Westminster was one of the nicest people I met and it not widely known he gave £50 million to help set up the new Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre.

His great interest in life was the Territorial Army and he wanted our front-line troops to have a state-of-the-art clinical rehabilitation centre which sadly he did live to see opened. I will remember him not for his wealth or social standing but his lack of pretention and his kindness and I trust the new centre will bear his name.

(Rev Dr) John Cameron

Howard Place, St Andrews

New debate

Population figures show us that Scotland’s population is increasing Scotsman August 11), largely because of migration. It never ceases to amaze me how these statistics are discussed without mention of abortion, or, as it is euphemisticly referred to, as birth rates.

I believe the annual figure for Scotland is around 10,000 multiply this for several decades then is it any wonder that population is decreasing?

Given the political sensitivity of mass migration now, maybe it is time for abortion to be on the agenda again.

William Ballantine

Dean Road, Bo’ness

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