Edinburgh Airport’s green credentials don’t stand up to scrutiny - Readers' Letters

I read with interest Edinburgh Airport’s Sustainability Policy ‘Greater Good’, published last month. The policy received press attention due to the plan to instal solar panels on site. However this industry is one which appears to be lagging in addressing climate change and net zero targets. Solar panels are a mere fleabite set against a strategy which allows unconstrained growth in flight numbers, with the resultant emission and noise problems.

Edinburgh Airport published its Sustainability Policy ‘Greater Good’ last month

Also “positive” are the Zero Carbon chapter’s aspirations where the airport wants to be “Be a leading Scottish organisation in the fight against Climate Change”.

Very strange there is no mention that the airport has a provisional second runway included in their 2016-2040 Masterplan, which could be built close to Scotland’s net zero deadline.

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The decision to build this runway is under direct control of the airport yet no mention is made of the vastly increased emissions this will allow to be generated without complete technological change and more credible offsetting. Is this the elephant in the room, or rather, the elephants in the sky?

Another key issue tackled in Greater Good is noise. Under "Trusted Neighbour” there is mention of mitigation and transparent engagement. They have already been down this path in recent times when the airport tried to drive through flight path expansion plans without fully informing the communities affected. Its submission in 2017 was rejected by the CAA.

Emphasis is again placed on the airport’s Noise Action Plan, which has so far not delivered improvements for overflown communities.

Recently, governments have been accused of making big promises but not delivering and Edinburgh Airport is no different. Scotland’s busiest airport must now match its environmentally and socially responsible rhetoric with meaningful action.

R Hepburn, Fife

Who’s to blame?

Tim Flinn, who wants to drop a bomb on the City of Edinburgh's planning department over the new St James Centre (Letters, 29 July), should know that planners do not design buildings and that they are bound to make recommendations to the planning committee in line with planning legislation. If a planning application meets the legislative requirements, regardless of its appearance, planners cannot reject it.

In any case, applications are not decided by planners but by councillors on the Planning Committee. Even they need to have good grounds for rejecting an application.

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

Spend a penny

I join Dr James Lawson, William Ballantine and Tim Flinn on your letters pages in condemning the turd above the St James Centre. I for one will not spend a penny there until this excrescence is removed. I urge others to join me in this boycott.

Colin McAllister, St Andrews, Fife

Noise on roads

We are spending billions on EV charging infrastructure but what about the roads themselves?

Potholes, humps, ridges and corrugations are ignored. Furthermore, roads are still being surfaced with a noisy top coat which makes driving an unpleasant experience.

It didn't used to be like that. Every so often you will drive over a 50-year-old patch of smooth tarmac – bliss! Some short sections of the A68 have recently been resurfaced with such a top dressing and the difference is day from night.

There is no acoustic specification for noise level created by road surfaces – there should be as it is a health and safety issue. I would not be surprised if Scottish van delivery drivers suffered from tinnitus or labyrinthitis as a result.

This is not just a Scottish problem, it's a national one. Much of the A1(M) for example from Scotch Corner to The Angel, requires ear defenders, and tyre noise from the motorway is unpleasant from a mile away.

William Loneskie, Lauder, Scottish Borders

A ‘good death’

The pastoral and ethical question of what constitutes a “good death” is a core question of Christian theology and there is no single answer. Christian views have changed over time and different contexts. A number of factors must be taken into consideration when arriving at a position on the contemporary issue of medically assisted death.

The biblical tradition doesn’t see death as an enemy to be avoided at all costs, rather the resurrection of Jesus is seen as God’s defeat of the power of death. Of course, the Ten Commandments states “Thou shalt not kill” and this is a challenge to a Christian ethic on ending another’s life including war, self-defence or physician assistance.

But there is no clear-cut biblical condemnation of suicide – that started with Augustine (354-430AD). Gradually it became a sin and suicides were denied a Christian burial. In 2017 the Church of England amended canon law to allow them a standard service but as a Kirk minister I buried suicides throughout my career (1973-2008).

Surveys find 80 per cent of people with faith support the legalisation of assisted death and I believe it should be part of the palliative process. The concept of the autonomous life is key.

I made my major life decisions and have decided how I will depart. I wouldn’t have the gall to tell you how to die and my wish for a quiet death is not your concern.

Rev Dr John Cameron, St Andrews, Fife

Palliative care

In his critique of Murdo Fraser’s article opposing the legalisation of assisted suicide, Prof Ben Colburn (Letters, 29 July) seems to propound two central principles: "equal respect for all lives” and “individual autonomy”.

I see several problems for supporters of "assisted dying” here. When someone decides their life is no longer worth living and requests assisted suicide, does this decision affect only themselves? No, it involves many others, including professionals such and doctors and pharmacists, whose traditional ethical standards forbid using medication to end a human life. Also their judgement that their own life is not worth living will unintentionally but inevitably affect others in a similar condition. This can be seen in those jurisdictions where some kind of euthanasia is allowed. The categories of those qualifying are extended beyond what was originally specified. The equal worth of all human lives is not maintained.

In everyday life our autonomy is not unlimited. Rather it is controlled by laws for the benefit of the whole of society. Otherwise there would be chaos. Taken to its logical conclusion, the argument based mainly on individual autonomy would forbid us trying to prevent the suicide of a person who, for whatever reason, cannot face going on living. An interesting fact is that in Oregon, the main reasons for requesting assisted suicide are loss of independence, loss of dignity and loss of enjoyment of usual activities rather than intolerable pain.

As a medical doctor, a minister and a wheelchair user with MS, I oppose the legalisation of assisted suicide and would argue for better and more widely available palliative and end of life care.

Rev Dr Donald M MacDonald, Edinburgh

21st century ethics

Murdo Fraser makes a case that an assisted dying law is a non-starter because it goes against (his) Christian values. Scotland is a country that has seen Christian reverence drop from 64 per cent of the population in 2001 to only 41 per cent in 2019. 70 per cent of Scots under 35 self-report to not being religious. In that context it is odd to see a member of Parliament suggest we rely on biblical sources for our law making in 2021.

His assertion that the dawn of Christianity was a harbinger of peace and serenity will be news to any serious historian of the Crusades and persecution of the Middle Ages.

Of course the reality, as Murdo knows himself, is that support for assisted dying amongst Scottish Christians is not far off the level of support in the "heathen” population. 80 per cent of people of faith say they support assisted dying laws for the terminally ill, as do 78 per cent of monthly churchgoers.

I for one enjoyed Murdo’s narrative book on 17th century Scottish aristocrats but perhaps his grasp of 21st century Scottish people’s ethics is left somewhat wanting.

Fraser Sutherland, Chief Executive, Humanist Society Scotland, Edinburgh

Fun with Team GB

Ian Murray (Scotsman, July 29) is again donning his Union jacket, exhorting Scots to “have fun” as part of Team GB. That will divert our attention from the cratering of our exports, empty shop shelves, price increases and job losses due to the Brexit disaster.

Rishi Sunak’s idea of “pooling and sharing resources” is to allocate a mere one per cent of the £1 billion Future Fund to Scottish firms and just for per cent of the £2 billion temporary job Kickstart Scheme for young Scots on Universal Credit, while cutting the £20 weekly Universal Credit uplift that is keeping so many families from despair.

Westminster continues to strip power from Holyrood and to plunder our resources, ignoring our MPs, including Ian.

As for keeping Scots healthy, what does Ian say about the recently passed NHS Health and Care Bill that will accelerate NHS privatisation?

The Tories, aping the US model, are carving England into 42 Integrated Care Systems where private companies will have seats on the boards and be able to decide where NHS money is spent. So we’ll get even more fiascos like the £37.5 billion Serco Test and Trace system. Scotland’s health service is next in line.

But Ian’s OK with this because he will be having an awful lot of fun.

Leah Gunn Barrett, Edinburgh

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