Brexit warning

THE PREFERRED trigger for a second independence referendum for many Nationalists, including Nicola Sturgeon, seems to be a British vote to leave the EU, with Scotland voting to remain in. Some seem to be eagerly awaiting this scenario.

They should read a report published this week by the Economic and Social Research Institute on behalf of the Irish Government Department of Finance on the effects of “Brexit” on the Irish economy.

The report predicts a 20 per cent drop in exports, more expensive imports, reduced wages, especially for the highly skilled, and problems with energy security.

They also raise the possibility of border controls.

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Little wonder the Irish Government want Britain to remain EU members.

The report obviously refers to Ireland and not Scotland but there are surely parallels between Ireland and an independent Scotland.

Both countries depend hugely on the UK market. For every Scottish job that depends on trade with the EU, four depend on trade with the rest of the UK. It would be a disaster for Scottish business to be in a different trading block and have a different currency to the rest of the UK.

There would be no chance of an independent Scotland sharing a currency (the pound) with a country that was not an EU member and little chance of avoiding entry into the Shengen agreement followed by border controls with England.

Those Nationalists who look forward to a “Brexit” should be careful what they wish for.

Keith Shortreed

Methlick, Aberdeenshire

Planning policy

Carole Ford, former president of School Leaders Scotland, criticises the SNP for being “impervious to all expert advice”, its misguided policies leading to reduced numbers “studying key subjects such as mathematics and science” (Letters, 5 November). If so, the SNP is not alone.

Fife’s Labour council rejects the offer of an excellent site on St Andrews University campus for our secondary school, similar to the visionary plan in 2009-11 (which sadly fell through) described by supporters in the university and the previous council as facilitating a relationship “unique to Scotland… a model for future partnerships between schools, universities, colleges and industry… to nurture new generations of science-literate students”.

Instead, among numerous disadvantages and irreversible decisions throughout this century, it plans the school on the wrong side of town for 65 per cent of pupils.

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It will require at least 76 school bus-runs daily through town, over a mile from the university, with its own biomass plant and chimney on the town’s highest point, blocking our hospital’s envisaged expansion forever.

It will also duplicate six sports pitches on a sloping hillside, and have no discernible compensating advantages at all in either the green-belt site or its location.

John Birkett

Horseleys Park, St Andrews

Same arguments

The letters pages have recently taken on an interesting dimension with some re-visits to topics that have been previously covered in The Scotsman.

On the issue of the steel industry, several people wrote to criticise the Scottish Government for not using Scottish steel on the construction of the new Forth Crossing after information had appeared in The Scotsman indicating that no Scottish or British company had bid for the contract.

On Trident, Ken Currie (Letters, 3 November) asked whether there was a rational explanation as to why the cost of Trident had soared from £100 billion to £167bn. The explanation (which had already been published in The Scotsman) is that the revised figure was issued by the Conservative chair of the Commons Defence Select Committee using information obtained from the Ministry of Defence.

On the Named Person scheme, The Scotsman can be commended for publishing an excellent article by Alistair Gaw, chief executive of Social Work Scotland, which attempted to dispel the myths surrounding how the scheme will operate.

Since then, correspondents have continued to demean the teachers and other members of the caring professions who will be the Named Persons, calling them “state snoopers” and government “monitors”.

This week (Letters, 5 November) Carole Ford returns to the theme of the Scottish Government’s record on education. She points to the value of the government listening to professional teaching bodies.

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She is right to do so and we can take comfort from the fact that the current incumbent and staff of School Leaders Scotland and the other relevant professional bodies are indeed in constructive dialogue with the Scottish Government.

Douglas Turner

Derby Street, Edinburgh

Edinburgh budget

The City of Edinburgh Council is asking the public to participate in its “great budget challenge”. I have challenged one department called “transport development” to an early run of this.

They are in charge of looking after our pavements, keeping them clear to allow drainage and looking out for anything that may cause damage.

I have challenged them to accompany me in my wheelchair around my area.

A to B is not simple for wheelchair users as high kerbs at main junctions can cause problems.

Wide bus shelters are a hazard, as are many routes impassible due to parked cars on pavements. The budget challenge is computer-driven and no doubt the data will be noted.

However, I challenge the council managers to leave their offices and walk the streets.

As you walk, think of the disabled, partially sighted, mothers with prams, the elderly and the young. This would be an eye-opener and a real challenge to the budget.

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Is this a PR exercise, and no doubt an expensive one, to pretend the council are really going to take note of anything you say? My challenge has gone unanswered so far.

DM Duff

Belmont Gardens, Edinburgh

I’ve just driven round Inverleith Place and Arboretum Place which form the north and east boundary of Inverleith Park in Edinburgh.

Quite unbelievably, there is a team of guys with blowers and brushes clearing fallen leaves. There is not one property or council tax payer on either side of the road being cleared and only a handful on the 
other, unaffected by leaves, side of the street.

These streets are very quiet as regards people walking, pretty much occasional dog walkers heading to and from the park.

This takes place while other high-density housing areas with high footfall face infrequent street cleaning.

Where did this instruction come from?

Which individual or department is responsible for this decision? It’s a shocking waste of resource by our clueless city council.

Patrick Boyle

Buckingham Terrace, Edinburgh

Wind project

Your article (4 November) on the “world’s largest floating offshore wind development” is of great interest.

However, it does not cover all aspects of supplying electricity from wind energy. Some clarification is needed.

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Firstly, the installed capacity of this pilot scheme will be 30MW and it could be expected to have a “load factor” of 33 per cent resulting in an intermittent supply of 10MW.

This could certainly power 20,000 homes (as stated) but only for approximately 120 days each year.

There will need to be electricity provided on an intermittent basis for the other 245 days in the year from fossil fuel power stations (preferably gas).

This may not be a problem for this pilot scheme but if the final development is for an installed load of 900MW then it may be a major setback if a gas-fired power station is not in place to give back-up on an intermittent basis.

The failure of the Scottish Government to get Scottish Power to meet their commitment to build a gas-fired power station to replace Longannet is a major blow for both onshore and offshore wind energy.

The article also quotes the Carbon Trust, who say that they “believe floating wind concepts could reduce generating costs below £100 per MWh (megawatt hour) in commercial deployments”.

This may or may not prove to be achievable but in addition to the cost of generating the electricity there is the cost of integrating the supply to the National Grid and the cost of having back-up on an intermittent basis from a fossil fuel power station.

It would be very helpful to those people concerned with electricity supply if information on the subsidy provided by the UK Government, integration costs, back-up costs and the cost of electricity to the consumer were to be provided by the Scottish Government in respect of existing onshore and offshore wind energy.

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Without this information it will not be possible for the public to become involved in an informed debate and many people will remain sceptical about the claims made by the wind energy sector.

C Scott

Mortonhall Road, Edinburgh

On Wednesday afternoon the National Grid took emergency action to maintain sufficient spare electricity supplies, following unscheduled shutdowns at various power stations. There was no mention by certain parts of the media that the “visible” UK wind fleet of 9,000 MW (megawatts) nominal capacity was producing just 257 MW at 5.45pm, when demand peaked at (only) 47,500 MW.

Peak demand last winter was almost 54,000 MW.

Power stations totalling 15,000 MW have closed since 2011, so unscheduled shut-downs are likely to increase because power stations are not getting enough downtime for long-term maintenance.

We may escape power cuts this winter, but there’s an ill wind blowing for the winter of 2016/17. The huge Eggborough and Longannet plants are to close in March with combined capacity of 4,200 MW.

National Grid is pretending that demand is effectively reducing because of “invisible” solar generation, but there is no sun at 5:45pm in winter! All of this is due to decisions taken by politicians in 2002 to prioritise renewable energy. It’s time to stop wasting any more money on wind or solar subsides.

We need a national programme to construct gas power plants forthwith.

Geoff Moore

Braeface Park, Alness

Secular split?

Mark Gordon of the Scottish Secular Society claims that religious believers can be “secularists” provided they agree with his views on – for example – abortion, assisted suicide and same-sex marriage (Perspective, 4 November).

However, they could not in conscience join the London-based National Secular Society, whose members must accept that “morality is social in origin and application” – a very debatable dogma which plainly excludes Christians like me. Do I detect a secularist schism between Edinburgh and London?

John Coutts

Ladysneuk Road, Stirling