Readers' Letters: Gas-fired power stations are answer to UK's energy needs

The calibre of government and those who continue to control us prompted an observation over ten years ago that UK energy strategy would end up consisting of onshore and offshore wind farms and nuclear fission stations, although I must admit I did not envisage the stupidity of large-scale solar generation in the UK coming into the equation!

Sensible folk recognise we just cannot drop fossil-fuels overnight, otherwise our technologically-dependent society will surely collapse, and the trick is to ‘wean’ ourselves off fossil-fuel dependency as quickly as possible.

To this end UK energy strategy should currently consist of modern, efficient gas-fired power stations of the Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) variety, which are far cleaner than their coal cousins, relatively cheap and quick to build – these stations being aided and abetted by tidal and hydro schemes.

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Coupled with fracking, the UK has the potential for some of the cheapest energy in Europe whilst ensuring security of supply and independence from foreign countries. The billions wasted on unpredictable wind and solar should have been invested in electricity from space, until nuclear fusion becomes viable as a commercial option – the ultimate in green energy.

Do our scientific and technological deprived Cabinet members not recognise that electricity from space is no longer sci-fi in the same manner that we have television from space – think geostationary orbit? Are they not aware that the Pembroke 2 GW CCGT power station construction cost was £800 million; Hinkley Point 3.5 GW Nuclear station is now running at an eye-watering £26 billion and still not finished? A 2 GW space-based solar power (SBSP) scheme will cost in the region of £18 billion.

To put this into some kind of context, a single SBSP has the capability to supply the whole of Wales with green and secure energy day and night being a lot cheaper, and environmentally cleaner (no nuclear waste) than Hinkley Point – and saying goodbye to ground-based solar and wind generation.

Dave Haskell, Brithdir, Cardigan

Carbon realpolitik

The UK’s net zero carbon emission proposals appear unsustainable and economically crippling. Facing the realities of massive investments and decades required for any industrial reconstruction, even the European Union has abandoned any headlong rush to manufacture electric vehicles or devise expensive new technologies, including nuclear power plant.

In reality, the UK’s present policy implies a 100 per cent increase in electricity generation to substitute for fossil fuels. None appear to have done their sums or even to consider the economics of such a change on the consumer when electricity presently costs four times the price of gas; hydrogen 12 times.

Millions of presently non-existent electrical battery-driven cars, electric boilers and heat pumps requiring ancillary pipe work, control systems and radiators will be required for the envisioned electrical energy future for the UK.

All this without due consideration to the extraordinary additional electricity demands of large-scale computer processing from the growing digital economy, whilst the National Grid, struggles to meet existing needs.

The fact that the ageing grid must be rebuilt, and expanded by many hundreds of miles, if it is to transport additional power generation from wind, tidal and other sources, is the fundamental priority. Yet the detailed planning and financing for such a major infrastructure investment appears glossed over.

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Perhaps the UK. needs to emulate the EU and Germany and face the realpolitik of the costs and timing of any transition to net zero?

Elizabeth Marshall, Edinburgh

GPs shortage

Dr Andrew Buist, chair of the British Medical Association's Scottish GP committee, has warned that there are not enough GPs available in Scotland to give the level of care needed and that more practices will close after the announcement that Inverurie Medical Practice will end its NHS Grampian contract on September 7.

This has arisen because Scotland' taxpayer-funded doctors, nurses and professionals leave to go abroad.

This need not have happened. In 2007 the Scottish government introduced free university tuition for those who had lived in Scotland for three years. The university fees of £9,250 a year are paid by Scottish taxpayers. That is £40,000-£50,000 per student. There are ongoing shortages in the NHS of doctors, nurses, dentists and professional people.

The Scottish government, now under new ownership should, belatedly, introduce a legally-binding contract that all free university education in Scotland is conditional that on qualifying they work and pay taxes in Scotland for five years and thus repay taxpayers' generosity.

Only then will patients get the healthcare they pay for and our brightest and best paying taxes will boost the Scottish economy.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow

Train delays

Jenny Gilruth had an even broader grin than “the luckiest man in Scotland”, Humza Yousaf, last week having been released as transport minister to education.

I did wonder whether the Greens’ proposal to tax frequent fliers to England to incentivise switching to rail was an April Fool, given neither Ms Gilruth nor the Greens have done anything to improve our rail system, including ScotRail, nationalised a year ago.

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Just two months in, the Government had already paid out more than £100,000 in compensation to customers due to delays.

Things got worse by the end of October with 18 per cent of services delayed, a rise from 15 per cent in the same period a year before. Driver recruitment remains a huge issue with 700 services “temporarily” axed last year. Most worryingly the latest passenger data covering Q4 2022 showed Scotrail had the lowestpercentage total journeys relative to 2019 levels of all UK operators at just 58 per cent.

The SNP/Green Government would argue it’s not just ScotRail that faces difficulties. Cross-border operator Transpennine Express currently cancels around a quarter of services due to driver shortages. This has serious economic and environmental implications, given that the only other practical way for business travel to cities like Manchester is to drive now.

The fact that the Scottish Government has not intervened maybe has something to do with the fact that the route leads into what Mr Yousaf considers a “foreign” country post-independence.

Samuel Johnson famously quipped that “the noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees, is the high road that leads him to England”. Given that there are no direct flights and the trains are unreliable maybe the way forward is for the Greens is to propose a dedicated “high road” to Manchester. That would be an April Fool!

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

‘Colony’ myth

Leah Gunn Barrett persists with the false idea that Scotland is some sort of 'colony' of Westminster, which is not a country (Letters, March 31).

She reinforces this idea with a claim, inappropriately, of the UK 'hegemony'. The SNP would appear to prefer to be a 'colony' of the European Union.

It suits the independence movement to peddle this nonsensical myth, in spite of the fact that Scotland is as embedded in the UK state as England. The whole idea is misconceived and irrational. Peace and prosperity does not lie in splitting states into ever smaller parts; it lies in merging states together for mutual defence and trade.

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The union of Scotland and England in 1707 was a great step forward, even though many Scots did not think so at the time. It has proved beneficial for 316 years. In any case, undoing the Treaty of Union is a matter for the whole UK, not just Scotland.She refers to Westminster controlling energy policy. In fact, the Scottish Government 'de facto' controls energy supply because it controls planning. That's the reason it refuses, irrationally, to allow the construction of any new nuclear power stations this side of the Border.

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

New top job

I was interested to see Jamie Hepburn appointed to the post of “Minister for Independence” in the Scottish Government. He should bring some clear vision to the debate, as his career appears to have been unencumbered by a real job, having moved smoothly from a university degree in politics to government minister.

He can now concentrate on convincing Scots to support secession by explaining the SNP currency plan and how they would reduce the current crippling Scottish fiscal and trade deficits. All this without increasing taxes, cutting public spending and slashing local government services. (They may have started this already).

His opportunity has arrived earlier than expected. The imminent Rutherglen and Hamilton West by- election will provide the ideal platform for Jamie and his nationalist pals to set out their “independence” plans for Scotland’s economy.

James Quinn, Lanark

April Fool!

It is a measure of the state of politics in Scotland today that I was into the third paragraph of the April Fool’s spoof on a statue being planned for the former First Minister before realising it was a joke.

Many a true word is indeed written in jest.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Glass ceiling?

It would be best if the drinks industries produced and agreed a plan for bottle recycling. Top-down schemes from government aren’t always best. Soviet rule was people elected by hardly anyone. It paralysed.

Tim Cox, Bern, Switzerland

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