Readers' Letters: Government must back North Sea oil and gas

There has been a lot of talk about North Sea oil and gas revenue reaching its highest level since 2013-14. This increase was not a rapid response to help the consumer or to improve security of supply. Almost all of this increase was due to the Tolmount gas field starting its production in April.

This field was discovered in 2011 and its development continued despite lower gas prices along with constant political derision. Had the green zealots got what they wanted by preventing its development then our energy prices would be even higher this winter.The government should support North sea production in two ways – it should offer a price floor justified by security of supply and it should become a silent partner in companies seeking to develop the fields. This would encourage the ongoing development, keep things going when prices are low and bring in revenue when prices are high.It took 11 years for this latest field and a lot of renewables were built in that time. Over the next decade it would be prudent to continue to develop the North Sea because if we do not need the oil and gas then we can sell it to the developing world.The costs of net zero will be coming out of people's pockets this winter with many people unable to afford them. Let's drop the dogma.

Tom Walker, Loanhead, Midlothian

Selective memory

An oil platform in the North Sea around 100 miles east of Aberdeen (Picture: Andy Buchanan - WPA Pool/Getty Images)An oil platform in the North Sea around 100 miles east of Aberdeen (Picture: Andy Buchanan - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
An oil platform in the North Sea around 100 miles east of Aberdeen (Picture: Andy Buchanan - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

In an embittered attack on relations between the local authorities and the Holyrood government, Brian Monteith displays a selective memory (Perspective, 29 August). Does he not recall that, prior to the devolution settlement in 1998, Scottish Councils, the Scottish Office and Westminster seemed to be at loggerheads constantly? Rate capping and compulsory competitive tendering were just two matters compounded by arguments over the annual financial settlement which the two-tier system struggled to cope with. Under devolution we have at least seen council tax freezes, for which the councils were compensated in part, a reform of the outdated first-past-the-post election system, introduction in some authorities of a real Living Wage, and some semblance of consultation over how the authorities are financed.

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The cause of the litter-strewn streets and bulging waste bins in central Edinburgh, and increasingly in Glasgow, can certainly be put down partly to poor consultation and communication between the councils, unions and Holyrood. But Mr Monteith ought to have focused on the fear and uncertainty created by Westminster over the impact of rising prices. A beleaguered refuse collector in Craigmillar or a school administrator in Blackhall may only have a passing interest in the intricacies of the Conservative leadership election. They will be aware that their elderly relatives and friends are going through an anxious time, too, over declining real incomes.

The anguish will only be eased by a clear statement from Downing Street about limiting energy bills and direct payments to protect those incomes. That should be Mr Monteith's focus rather than a pointless swipe at a system the Scottish people have broadly embraced over the last decades.

Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife

Reclaim power

The scale of the UK energy rip-off that is devastating millions is criminal. UK households, businesses, schools, hospitals and care homes are facing an 80 per cent increase in energy prices whereas in nearby Norway, consumers are paying just 6 per cent of the UK variable rate for 3 years.

If Scotland had been independent and done what Norway did – retain control of its energy and create a sovereign wealth fund – it would have had an even larger wealth fund. Norway’s fund not only pays for household energy bills, but also supports former oil workers and is building Norway’s renewables industries.

Instead, we’ve been controlled by Westminster, which has sold off our energy assets and eliminated taxes on Big Oil. Norway owns its energy resources and taxes private oil companies at 78 per cent. Which policy benefits people more?

In addition, Tony Blair’s Labour government moved the English maritime boundary north from Berwick to Arbroath to take over seven Scottish oil fields and their revenues. This was stealthily done on the eve of the 1999 reopening of the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish people must call time on this Union that has served us so badly. We must invoke our constitution, the Claim of Right, which gives the people the power to remove a government that harms them, and restore our independence.

Margaret McGowan, Edinburgh

Doomed Union

While the leaderless UK slips into debt and recession, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, in their long Tory leadership campaign, have shown their ignorance and disrespect for Scotland. Truss would simply ignore the democratically elected First Minister, while Sunak would systematically undermine the devolution settlement.In abandoning “Four Nations” Conservatism, along with devolution, in favour of a central, insular British Brexit state, this will hasten an independent Scotland, Wales, Irish reunification and the final breakup of the post-imperial United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Grant Frazer, Newtonmore, Highland

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Drilling at North Sea gas well could heat 200,000 homes this winter

All together?

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Nicola Sturgeon likes to portray herself as speaking for all of Scotland. Many of us know this isn't true.

Now it seems Ms Sturgeon has confirmed this. As the rubbish piles up ever higher, especially in Edinburgh, it appears that around 70 Scottish Government buildings, including Ms Sturgeon's own residence at Bute House, have their rubbish dealt with by a private firm at taxpayers expense. Sensitive government papers etc ought not be disposed of in a bin, nevertheless this will be used as an excuse – while the rest of Scotland suffers a bin crisis the SNP/Green government do not. Are we really all in this together?

Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

Wasted cash?

In these putrid days of rotting refuse on our streets, as people wantonly throw their rubbish onto them, it is gratifying to know that one household does not have to worry about waste disposal. The bins at Bute House, the First Minister’s official residence, are emptied by a private waste removal firm funded by taxpayers. It seems that £43 million of our money is spent every year on a private firm removing waste from Scottish administration buildings, including Bute House.

What was it Orwell said about some animals being more equal than others?

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

Writing on wall

There comes a moment in every popular political leader’s career when their arrogance and self-regard reaches the “walking on water” state and they feel they are untouchable, that anything goes. It happened with Tony Blair and Iraq. It happened with Margaret Thatcher and her gross underestimation of Geoffrey Howe.

It has undoubtedly, on a much smaller scale, happened with the First Minister of Scotland. Whether she was advised to go on her trip to Denmark for little more than a photo-op at the height of an engulfing bin collectors’ strike and impending cost of living crisis, or simply overlooked any advice she did get, we do not know. Yet the images of her and her entourage being paraded in Copenhagen – where the Danish PM was apparently too busy to meet her – while Scotland’s capital lay submerged in rubbish and filth, will be the image that lingers.

Even her most fervent followers, and there are, I know, many, must have flinched at this latest example of arrogance and/or narcissism on display. It took some time after their moments before Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher eventually fell; but the writing is most certainly on the wall for the First Minister.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Best of British!

Unlike some readers I am not outraged at Nicola Sturgeons appearances at the Fringe Festival as she is merely playing to her skills.

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She simply has no answer or solution to the myriad problems we presently face, so her strategy after eight years has not changed.

Self-promotion while tirelessly banging on about an independence referendum has up till now served her very well indeed.

She has played a blinder, but events and public perception are finally catching up, people are less and less impressed by her empty celebrity brand of politics – I think of her as the Holyrood version of Kim Kardashian – and she undoubtedly knows this, which makes it understandable that she is putting herself in the shop window for future employment.

For Scotland's sake I wish her all the luck in the world.

David Crawford, Bonhill, Dunbartonshire

Lead letter

Robert D Fleming states unequivocally that “lead was banned for use in shotgun cartridges over 35 years ago” (Letters, 29 August).

He might wish to ask himself why, just two years ago, did all the principal shooting organisations in the United Kingdom agree to phase out lead shot over the next five years.

Lead shot has been banned in several countries for many years, including Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, but not here.

Perhaps Mr Fleming is confusing lead in shotgun cartridges with the use of split lead shot as weights on freshwater fishing lines.

That, indeed, was banned 35 years ago – in 1987 – thereby saving the lives of countless swans and other waterfowl which were ingesting the lead and being poisoned.

Malcolm Ogilvie, Bruichladdich, Isle of Islay

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