Readers' letters: Don’t dismiss the Highlands’ agricultural potential

I read with interest Alistair Anderson's article, entitled “A future for land and mountain and flood”, concerning the pattern of land ownership in the Highlands (Scotsman, 12 September).

The reader could be excused for gathering the impression that the Highlands are an area incapable of any significant agricultural production, which is far from the truth.

The growing trend of re-wilding, as promoted by Paul Lister, Anders Holch Polson, the Scottish Rewilding Alliance, et al, while appropriate in some areas, should be treated with scrutiny and caution.

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Scant regard has been given to the work of generations of farmers andcrofters within the Highlands who produce cattle and sheep, noted “good doers”, on land which is eminently suitable for the purpose. Indeed, that vital word food receives no mention.

Crofters and farmers in the Highlands produce wholesome, locally produced food, a reader says
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It is of supreme importance that the Consultation Paper receives commonsense responses, to counteract the ostensibly well-meaning but misguided whims of those organisations and certain poiticians who appear to be oblivious to the needs of providing our nation with wholesome, locally produced food.

Iain M Thomson, Tain, Highland

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Licence to view

Some of the age group which recently enjoyed free TV licences may not, for various reasons, have taken out a licence since that privilege was withdrawn.

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Might I suggest it would be a fitting gesture on the part of the BBC if it gave them leave to watch the imminent royal obsequies and, in due course, the coronation, without impediment?

S Beck, Edinburgh

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Right to protest

Of course we agree with Voltaire on free speech (Letters, 14 September), but there are reasonable limits, for example shouting “fire” in a crowded cinema for no reason.

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Shouting abuse in public at someone mourning his mother may not be illegal but is certainly morally reprehensible and an abuse itself of our right in certain circumstances to free speech. There is a time and place for everything; and I gather that in Scots Law if the police believe such abuse might lead to violence, they have the right to arrest the perpetrator.

As for the peaceful and silent “blank placard” protesters, they are copying those in Russia protesting its brutal unprovoked rape of Ukraine, and to imply any similarity whatsoever to those brave people is fatuous – just as arrogantly as the UK campaign group Charter 88 was, in taking its name from Charter 77, the Czechoslovak dissident group formed to confront the Prague government’s capitulation to the 1968 Soviet aggression.

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John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife

Protecting public

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Like most people I reserve the right to protest. However I did think it prudent for the police to intervene when protesters are putting their lives in danger.

The Muir of Ord chippy owner was escorted out of town for her own safety. The Royal Mile protester was dragged down by the other spectators and if the police had not taken him into protective custody what might have happened.

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The police are there to protect the public – even protesters.

Alastair Paisley, Edinburgh

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Indulgent demo

There appears to be a degree of unease regarding the arrest of a “protester” during the silent, dignified passage of Queen Elizabeth’s coffin to St Giles’ on Monday afternoon, which reflected well upon those in the Royal Mile who essentially were representing Edinburgh and Scotland as a whole.

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The arrest has been seized upon by the free speech movement. I was there, close to the incident. Let us be clear: this was no political protest made by some person downtrodden by the state. It was no more than a personal insult delivered at Prince Andrew. It had no connection with free speech as is being portrayed.

Whatever you may think of Prince Andrew, such an insult being delivered as the coffin passed was no more than a personal indulgence delivered without consideration to the time, place and whose body lay in the coffin. It was made without thought to the preciousness of the moment to the vast majority of the crowd, for whom the moment risked being spoilt, nor to an outsider’s impression of Scotland.

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John B Gorrie, Edinburgh

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Queen’s corgis

Newspapers have been full of articles about the death of the Queen, as would be expected.

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We’ve been taken on a journey through her very active life, and reminded of all the highlights of her reign.

I have to confess that the anecdote which sticks in my mind was not about her state visits or official visits, but was much closer to home.

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It was really a story about her dogs, whom she loved unreservedly.

Apparently, they could guess when they were about to be taken for walks by the Queen when she donned her headscarf.

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If she appeared with a crown, they knew that there was no chance of "walkies”, so they went for a nap instead.

I’ll remember that long after all the pomp and circumstance has faded away in the collective minds of all of us.

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Carolyn Taylor, Broughty Ferry, Dundee

Union of Crowns

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While some have sought to exploit crowds mourning the passing of a widely-respected lady as evidence in their minds of an affinity binding Scotland to the Union of Parliaments, rather than perhaps more legitimately to the Union of Crowns, the Queen made the decision to spend the final days of her reign in Scotland.

This was no accident as she would have been fully aware that whatever her personal affection for our country her passing in Scotland would have significant implications, including possible political misrepresentations, for the ceremonies to follow.

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The absence of Union flags among the crowds in Scotland indicates that the vast majority of mourners here understood this and honoured her intentions but regrettably this appreciation was not reflected by many commentators in the media.

Is it too much to hope that the admirable sensitivity of Elizabeth “Queen of Scots”, Elizabeth II of England, to the distinctive characteristics and different aspirations of the nationalities comprising the United Kingdom, will be reflected in appropriate coverage of the remaining ceremonies?

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Stan Grodynski, Edinburgh

Sovereign people

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I respect both Derek Farmer and Jill Stephenson's very obvious grief over the death of the Queen (Letters, 14 September), but they mustn’t be allowed to project that on to their distortion of reality in the manner of BBC presenters making unsubstantiated comments about Scotland and whether it does or does not want independence based on crowd size.

Mr Farmer thinks that we are part of “the most democratic and respected union on Earth”. Sorry to break it to you Mr Farmer but you are wrong on both counts. I will not rehearse all the well-known reasons why it is ridiculous that Scotland is still under the thumb of a Westminster Conservative government despite not having voted that way since 1955. As for being respected, he must have missed the increasingly frequent revelations of British behaviour in its former colonies.

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Ms Stephenson is getting over-excited about the First Minister signing a document which I have no doubt Alex Salmond would have signed too under current constitutional arrangements.

But she must have missed the bit where the new King reiterated his own oath to the Claim of Right, which clearly states that in Scotland, the people are sovereign.

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Perhaps this autumn would be a good time for Mr Farmer and Ms Stephenson to enrol in some history classes.

Marjorie Ellis Thompson, Edinburgh

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Piece of cake

The Queen was, and now her successor Charles has become, monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, together with Commonwealth Countries.

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It is rather farcical for the SNP to suggest that if they succeed in their quest for Scottish independence, they would still wish to be part of King Charles’s realm.

Lest they forget, the legislation pertaining to the formation of the Scottish Parliament in 1998 does not include any powers relating to constitutional legislation. Such matters are reserved to Westminster.

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The expression “to have one’s cake and eat it” comes to mind.

Robert IG Scott, Ceres, Fife

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Defining issue

The article by Martyn McLaughlin on the topic of climate change being a defining issue for King Charles (Scotsman, 14 September) should say that it can be a defining issue for all Scottish voters.

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The Inconvenient Truth that fails to be addressed by the media is that the clash over remain and leave has been overtaken by a debate between those ignoring the wild fires and low river levels throughout Europe in their quest for Indyref2 and those who claim that independence is irrelevant if we fail to fix the climate.

The current state of the economy means that one policy must take precedence since independence results in a decade of austerity, thus prolonging the cost-of-living crisis until 2035. The price of a Green Revolution comes in at £150 billion (equivalent to a UK bill for a green transition of £1.5 trillion), hence every Scot must choose which policy takes precedence since the economy cannot support both.

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Ian Moir, Castle Douglas, Dumfries & Galloway

Write to The Scotsman

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