Readers' letters: Facts on grouse shooting speak for themselves

Max Wiszniewski (Letters, 9 August) makes assertions about the upcoming grouse shooting season, without any factual basis or evidence.

Grouse shooting contributes a higher per hectare employment impact from grouse moors than sheep farming and forestry, as highlighted by a 2020 Scottish Government, SRUC and James Hutton Institute report. In addition, 60-80 per cent of direct spending on grouse shooting occurs within the local or regional area, supporting jobs in remote areas which otherwise would have little or no other employment opportunities.

Grouse moors also provide important refuges for many moorland ground-nesting birds. Lapwing, curlew and golden plover, to name a few, all benefit from excellent habitat management and predator control. These species were found to fledge more than three times as many young when predator control was carried out, compared to without such measures.

Practices such as muirburn and managing the heather are essential. These help preserve and protect the Scotland’s biggest carbon store in the peat found on grouse moors. A GWCT study showed that management for driven grouse shooting slows the loss of heather from the landscape. Between the 1940s and 1980s, moors that stopped grouse shooting lost 41 per cent of their heather cover, while moors retaining shooting lost only 24 per cent. It also prevents the disastrous, large-scale spread of wildfires, which we have seen sweeping across continental Europe of late.

It is argued that grouse shooting is good for the rural economy and the environment

We accept there are differing opinions on the management of our uplands, but the facts speak for themselves.

Peter Clark, Public Affairs Manager (Scotland), British Association for Shooting and Conservation, Dunkeld, Perth & Kinross

Water works

We are in the middle of a heatwave in Scotland with severe drought predictions.

Scottish Water is losing 460 million litres of water per day – equivalent to 180 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The directors continue to pay themselves obscene salaries and bonuses (Douglas Millican £359,000, Peter Farrer £265,000, and Alan Scott £262,000) while presiding over yet another failing Scottish business. By the way, I was obviously mistakenly to think it was our water, not their water!

The last Scottish reservoir was built at Megget and opened on 30 September 1983, some 40 years ago. Consumption must have increased over the past 40 years and we are facing climate change. We live in a country which has an abundance of rain annually yet where are the plans to build new super reservoirs ?

The private sector plunders ground water to sell to us in plastic bottles. Why is Scottish Water not planning to conserve water for private and commercial use, including increasing consumption? The Victorians had the foresight to build attractive reservoirs in the Lake District and pipe water many miles to England's industrial heartland which work well to this day.

Scottish Water should ignore the Patrick Harvies of this world and build dams for Scotland’s future generations. Who knows, we might ever sell any surpluses over the border.

Robin Jack, Edinburgh

Dated stereotype

Apparently, the Conservative Party is composed of "mainly white, elderly, middle-class members”, according to Neil Anderson (Letters, 9 August). This generalisation is as outdated as a description by one journalist back in the 1990s of an SNP conference being packed with “drunk, aggressive women and kilted Wookiees”.

Half of the original eight Tory leadership nominees were from ethnic minorities; four were female. Increasing numbers of people now identify as (or aspire to be) middle-class. And what exactly is so awful about the elderly being politically active? We have an ageing population, and some of us still respect senior citizens’ life experience and wisdom.

Mr Anderson might well be disconcerted by the rainbow diversity of many Conservative gatherings these days, which wouldn’t match his handy stereotypes.

One final thought on the democratic process: who actually voted for the First Minister to succeed her ex-friend Alex Salmond as leader of their party?

Martin O’Gorman, Edinburgh

Lesson learned

Edinburgh Festival crowds are not simply made up of performers, spectators and holiday-makers. They bring in other professionals as well. I had my purse lifted a couple of days ago. One moment I was looking at shoes, but when I turned away I suddenly felt my bag, worn with a strap over the shoulder, was lighter that usual. Yes it was. My purse with all my cards had gone.

It took me a while to walk home as my bus pass had gone. Once there I got started on cancelling credit and debit cards. Luckily I seem to have been in time.

Thereafter it has been a sharp learning curve on being without cash or cards to buy anything.

Starting with food. We were out of bread, down to three eggs. I had been going to get them on the way home. I had enough milk, thank goodness, made a strong cup of tea and got started finding out how to renew my bus pass and every other card that I had lost.

I was lucky. My daughter lives not far away and she came round with cash to keep me going. Not everyone has a good fairy for a daughter

I now know what those whose salary no longer buys their usual staples are facing up to.

Brexit and inflation leave families constantly anxious and fearful of what will happen to them and their children when the salary they have managed on simply no longer stretches to feed the family as it used to.

“Time to pull in your belts”, says Westminster. “I’ll cut taxes to benefit my rich friends but I will not had out money to the poor,” says the likely Conservative candidate to lead the UK.

Scotland would be so much better off if we were not hamstrung by the Union. We would be fully self-sufficient in mostly renewable energy so gas and electricity prices could stay affordable. The surge of optimism and work ethic that would accompany independence, and the opportunity to increase our exports to the EU would support a Scottish taxation base sensitive to our people’s needs, unlike those imposed from London.

Elizabeth Scott, Edinburgh

Sky’s the limit

Has Nicola Sturgeon found her "star” quality at last?

Tomorrow sees a “sturgeon supermoon” in the night sky. Although this Moon may look bigger it is perhaps not unexpected that it is only an optical illusion. Sadly for Ms Sturgeon this “attention-seeking” phenomenon is named after the fish – although with SNP spin you never can be sure!

Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

Rural speeding

William Loneskie (Letters, 9 August) highlights the ridiculous difference between town and rural speed limits: 20mph in towns and villages and 60mph in rural single-track Borders country. Here in Highlands we have similar problems.

I have been trying to get safer road speed conditions between Bonar Bridge and Ardgay. This is an accident waiting to happen, an area where young kids meet at the Hub for soft play. The speed limit is 60mph but this does not get strictly adhered to.

Moving the 30mph signs from the bridge to the telephone exchange some 127 yards makes for a safer Hub. The rest of the road was agreed for 40mph but because of conditions this whole project has never happened.

Michael Baird, Bonar Bridge, Highland

20’s plenty

There is much talk of various councils outside Edinburgh emulating the city and introducing a 20mph speed limit. Why?

All over Edinburgh, there are signs on roadways and speed limit signs telling motorists they are not to exceed 20mph and what is the effect? If anything, they drive faster.

Near me, in Morningside, is the main road to Penicuik and the south. The traffic lights enforce the various lanes stopping and waiting for the others to clear before they get their turn. However, many of the cars simply hurtle up the hill towards Fairmilehead going at 40mph or more.

The only reason I can fathom why this should be happening is that drivers regard the 20mph limit as completely ridiculous, or are taking the mickey, to be polite. Going fast is, to my mind, their response and I think that the authorities have scored an own goal if they think reducing the limit has helped in any way at all.

Peter Hopkins, Edinburgh

Not very green

The plan by two American millionaires to build a golf course at Coul Links, Embo was rightly turned down on environmental grounds. One has only to look at the devastation wrought on the Menie Links by Trump’s golf course to see what a disaster it would have been.

That these people are submitting a virtually identical application is a disgrace. Dornoch does not need another golf course. There are already seven within easy reach. Dornoch should not sell its soul for American or any other money.

Colin McAllister, St Andrews, Fife

East Fife 4...

With regard to the BBC’s deplorable decision to abandon the ritual Saturday afternoon transmission of classified football results, I see that East Fife are hosting a Scottish League 2 home match against Forfar the weekend after next.

I think the Scottish Football Association should give a special dispensation, with full points awarded to both teams, to allow this game to be fixed. This would no doubt draw a capacity crowd of 1,980 expectant football fanatics in anticipation of the nine-goal historic result that the world has waited so long to be broadcast. Shame on Auntie.

Andy Davey, Peebles, Scottish Borders

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