Letters: Be more prudent with calls for costly inquiries

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Sarah Boyack MSP has called for reform and speeding-up of the Fatal Accident Inquiry system in Scotland (News, August 5). There is some merit in this demand for reform of FAIs.

However, Labour would have greater credibility if it had been more selective rather than calling willy- nilly for expensive public and judicial inquiries (beloved by all lawyers of course) into almost every issue going – from breast implants and employer trade union blacklists through to the Mortonhall case.

Sometimes it is prudent to be selective in calls for particular inquiries, which Scottish Labour has certainly not been.

Angus Logan, Coates Gardens, Edinburgh

Give a good account without a degree

This week, thousands of students from across Edinburgh will be receiving their Standard and Higher grade results.

While many may have a clear idea about their next steps, there will be plenty who don’t.

Students may be unaware that many professional careers do not require a degree. ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) does not require a degree and you can have the advantage of getting practical experience by working while studying and once completed have a qualification that is the equivalent of a masters level degree.

University experience could be an important part of your development, but it is always worth considering that even without tuition fees the cost of a three-year university course can be as much as £30,000.

In today’s competitive job market, three years’ experience gained while studying for a professional qualification could put you ahead of your peers.

Craig Vickery, head of ACCA Scotland

Grouse about ‘Glorious 12th’

The wealthy and well connected will mark August 12, known as the “Glorious Twelfth”, by gunning down grouse.

While the gun lobby claims it spends vast sums of money “improving” and transforming upland areas, you will not hear what goes on behind the scenes.

The moors are subject to extreme land “management”, including burning, which encourages the growth of young heather shoots, on which the grouse feed. However, these practices have damaging environmental consequences, because the moors’ boggier areas (known as blanket bog) have great quantities of carbon locked into the underlying peat. According to a recent report released by the Committee on Climate Change: “An estimated 350,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year is emitted from upland peat in England, the majority of which [260,000 tonnes] is from areas that are being rotationally burnt.”

You can add to this the routine snaring, trapping and poisoning of any animal deemed to be a threat to the survival of the grouse. Even iconic raptors have been illegally targeted.

All of this effort is solely to boost grouse numbers and keep them alive until the “Glorious Twelfth”, when they will be blasted from the skies by those who want to be part of an elitist club.

Fiona Pereira, Animal Aid

Membership of UK is the biggest threat

It is interesting to note that in a report published by the Law Society of Scotland, a newly independent Scotland’s membership of the European Union would encounter no legal barriers.

According to the paper the country already complies with EU treaties and therefore qualifies “in legal terms for EU membership in its own right”. The report also says that “Scotland would have the capacity to be recognised as an independent state”.

This is the common sense position which is supported by a number of eminent experts in EU affairs and it would be counter to the entire ethos of the EU to seek to remove a country which wishes to remain within it and which already complies with EU laws.

This is in stark contrast with the real and current threat to Scotland’s membership of the EU that exists as a result of the UK Government’s plans for an in/out EU referendum.

The report follows news that David Cameron’s plans for wholesale reform of the UK’s membership of the EU were thrown into doubt following a refusal from French President Francois Hollande to back the Prime Minister. Without the support of France, any hopes of significant EU reform look unlikely and UK withdrawal is seemingly inevitable.

As far as Scotland’s relationship with the European Union goes, the major threat to this is not our independence, it is continued membership of the UK.

Alex Orr, Leamington Terrace, Edinburgh

Renewables madness that keeps on going

Holyrood seems unable to say “sorry we got it wrong about wind turbines” and change direction.

Wind is unpredictable and its electricity cannot be stored.

Our national grid is “balanced” with standby gas and coal-fired power plants in order to keep the lights on.

The National Grid is planning to hook up thousands of diesel generators to provide back up when the wind drops at a cost of £1 billion every year.

Yes you read correctly – diesel generators which generate almost as much CO2 as the coal-fired plants which are being forced to close.

So lucrative is this plan that private firms are offering to build standby diesel power stations since they can expect to be paid up to £47,000 a year in “availability payments” for each MW of capacity before they have even generated any power. They will then be paid up to 12 times the going rate for generating electricity.

Consumers will pay through their electricity bills. The “renewables” madness continues.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow