Readers' Letters

Your report (24 July) of work to encourage salmon and sea trout on the River Tyne in East Lothian will be welcomed by anglers who have for many years urged that weirs on the river should be removed to improve the fishing.

Anglers are angry about the actitivies of poachers working on an industrial scale in Scotland's rivers

However, removal of weirs such as the Knowes Weir is only part of the remedy. For more years than some of us can remember poaching has long been a major problem and several years ago there was a widespread anger when a poacher’s net containing 60-odd dead sea trout was recovered from the river by water bailiffs.

To discourage poaching on the river (and indeed on all Scottish rivers) more resources must be put into catching poachers, taking them to court and imposing custodial sentences for their crimes.

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If a poacher is given a slap on the wrist by having a fine imposed, all he does is to go out on the river to catch salmon and sea trout to sell to raise the money to pay the fine.

Make no mistake about it, poaching is no longer “one for the pot” and is now carried out on an industrial scale and the punishment must be increased equal severely.

David W Elder, Haddington, East Lothian

Heritage remedy

No need to panic. Edinburgh just needs to get its skates on to avoid Liverpool's fate of being de-listed as a World Heritage Site (Scotsman, 22 July).

Simple. It willll be the work of an afternoon to lop off the top of the “Steaming Turd” at the St James Quarter.

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After Liverpool loses World Heritage status, Edinburgh must take care – Scotsman...

The metaphor is unavoidable. Ostentation of emptiness of meaning and damnable shoddiness of execution are unignorable. Breaking the skyline from all points of the compass, it casts its moral-aesthetic stain: none of us escape the disgrace of it.

But here's our chance. A prompt confession of error and a speedy demolition; and the world at large might come to doubt that the folly was ever perpetrated.

Dr James Lawson, Edinburgh

Nuclear option

I must congratulate Brian Wilson on his excellent article on COP26 (Scotsman, 24 July) which highlighted many of the problems not being faced by politicians in respect of climate change.

The example he gives of Germany's failure to maintain their nuclear generating capacity should be a warning to UK politicians who do not support nuclear energy.

If our politicians take expert advice from power engineers they will realise that to decarbonise the power generating sector cannot be achieved, affordably, without increasing nuclear capacity by more than five times the present capacity. Estimated demand in 2040 is approximately 72GW (average output per hour). By this date the installed capacity of nuclear needs to be approximatey 42GW.

If the targets for electrification of transport, heating residential and business premises are to be achieved the price of electricity requires to be lower than at present in real terms.

There is now an urgent need for the governments in Great Britain to agree an energy policy which will ensure that the electricity system has security of supply, security of operation and is resilient. The planning for this over the next 30 years is critical to ensure net zero is achieved by 2050.

All this could be achieved without the COP26 summit in Glasgow if politicians in government in the UK come to their senses.

C Scott, Edinburgh

Practical solutions

I find myself in the highly unusual position of partly agreeing with Brian Wilson – COP26 must deliver real, practical solutions, not high-flown rhetoric.

He points out that the promised job bonanza that wind turbines would bring to Scotland was SNP green propaganda and that wind electricity cannot provide reliable and constant electricity like gas and nuclear. He could also have pointed out that this unreliable wind electricity costs 5.6 times more than the gas we use for heating and cooking and which will soon be banned.

He hopes for COP26 to be a success but for 25 years there has been no action and COP6 will produce more hot air and broken promises. The UK Chairman of COP26 should make it clear that before the conference that all 195 countries must present convincing plans on how they will achieve net zero by 2050 enshrined in legally-binding Climate Change Acts. Scotland, the UK, New Zealand, Sweden and France have done this so why not others, especially China, India, Russia, the US and Germany?

Many suspect that the only thing that the 195 countries will bring to Glasgow is Covid.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian

Take aim at Czechs

The news that a constitutional right to use weapons in self-defence only awaits the eager pen of Czech President Miloš Zeman to become law will no doubt provoke hostility from the European Union and progressive opinion generally, but it also raises an interesting question.

Given the deep history of weapon ownership in the Czech lands, why are those who most fanatically support cultural diversity also those who are most hostile to local cultural attitudes and traditions in European countries?

Both the Czech republic and Switzerland, which also has a culture of guns in the home, have intentional homicide rates of around 0.6 per 100,000 per year, roughly half of the UK rate.

Also, for Czechs weapon ownership is associated with freedom. Their right to keep weapons goes all the way back to the Hussite wars in the 15th century, when armed local peasants fought off feudal armies. The right was only abolished by the Nazis and then under Communism possessing weapons was restricted to party loyalists.

Perhaps diversity and tolerance should start here in Europe by accepting the traditional cultures of other European countries.

Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife

Resist freeports

Andrew Gray (Letters, 24 July) says freeports will be a benefit to Scotland’s economy but the evidence is otherwise.

They are usually around a shipping area or airport and can be extensive, with industrial areas and/or airport of up to 300 fenced hectares. They take in goods and manufacture things, which are re-exported without payment of duty or tax to somewhere. Companies in there don’t have to be registered so are unaccountable. There are no guarantees on worker’s conditions, pay or health and safety regulations, nor on environmental rules. With little scrutiny and control, crimes like money laundering, smuggling, counterfeit goods and the lucrative people trafficking can develop.

The local economy and workers’ jobs and rights are threatened by this kind of activity, including the major loss in national revenue. Goods leaking out from the designated areas "by mistake” can undercut and be of any standard or unsafe like illegal chemicals or firearms. The local authority will face unfair and probably unsavoury competition when it tries to develop locally.

The freeport model already shows failure and the Tory plan of Johnson to force this on Scotland undemocratically and harmfully, against the opposition of Scottish ministers, should be resisted.

Pol Yates, Edinburgh

Stop panicking

Despite the ‘pingdemic’, the lethal power of the coronavirus is fading. It’s also clear that if we want to learn from earlier pandemics, there are greater similarities with the Russian flu of 1890 than the Spanish flu of 1918. These include symptoms such as dry coughing, sudden fever and a loss of smell. Some survivors are struck by a listless depression but fortunately children are affected much less than adults.

Virologists believe the 1890 outbreak was caused by the coronavirus OC43 jumping from cows to humans just as Sars-Cov-2 may have leapt from bats to humans. The earlier virus also hit the country in waves with four big surges sweeping across the nation until 1894 and sporadically until 1900. But it never disappeared. It’s still with us as one of the viruses that cause 20 per cent of the UK’s common colds.

Covid is likely to follow a similar trajectory, becoming endemic as a seasonal virus that circulates fairly harmlessly every winter. In the 1890s it took four years for immunity to reach significant levels, and another five until the virus settled into an endemic pattern. That process has now been artificially accelerated by vaccines but we have probably reached the limits of what we can do to control the virus.

So restrictions should now be largely lifted because further lockdowns will do more harm than good. It’s also time to end the “pingdemic” and spare vaccinated Covid contacts the inconvenience of self-isolating. The requirement to quarantine because you are a casual contact does little to help control the epidemic – in fact the biggest fear for most people is the disruption of spending ten days in isolation.

Dr John Cameron, St Andrews, Fife

Passports plea

The trouble with anti-vaxxers is that they give Covid passport sceptics a bad name. Lots of us are concerned about creeping state control, Covid passports being yet another step towards a Chinese-style social credit dystopia, but we're undermined by anti-science New World Order bucketheads sabotaging rational arguments by mixing genuine dangers with moonshine.

Most people don't fall for QAnon-loving 5G-fearing UN-depopulating virus-denying idiots, so they don't consider the real dangers of Covid passports either. By their stupidity, the conspiracy theorists are helping bring about the very Orwellian society they imagine exists already,

Do us all a favour – stick to your Infowars-y fantasy websites and stop embarrassing yourselves mixing with decent people.

Vaccines yes, Covid passports no.

Barry Tighe, Woodford Green, Essex

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