Readers' Letters: It’s time for fireworks to go out with a bang

People are more and more concerned about the environment. So why are we having fireworks displays and allowing fireworks to be sold ?

Should Edinburgh stop sending tons of explosives into the air?  (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Should Edinburgh stop sending tons of explosives into the air? (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Fireworks cause air pollution, noise pollution and littering. They frighten domestic and wild animals. Their explosions cause flashbacks with servicemen who suffer from post-traumatic disorders.

Fireworks place an unnecessary burden on the emergency services. On 5 November the fire brigade responds to hundreds of bonfire incidents across Scotland. In some cases officers are attacked by the perpetrators.

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Edinburgh "prides itself" on being able to compete with the waste of London and Sydney in propelling tons of explosives into the night sky at Hogmanay. But this year London and Sydney have cancelled their events. Meanwhile, Edinburgh is going ahead. Why? What ever happened to our leaders’ “world-leading” commitment to going green?

Fireworks should be banned. A small but important step has been taken towards that end by Sainsbury's and Co-op, who no longer stock these wasteful and harmful products.

William Loneskie, Lauder, Berwickshire

Veggie dilemma

Philip Lymbery sees plant-based alternatives to meat as a “ready-made solution to tackling climate change” (Perspective, 1 November). This would presumably require an extension in arable farming but he, understandably, deprecates the extension of farmland that is currently driven by the burgeoning world population.That population increase is something which is susceptible to government intervention within a reasonable period but does not seem to be on the COP26 agenda.

S Beck, Edinburgh

Right on

May I add my agreement to Tim Flinn’s letter of 3 November saying the planet will survive (climate change) as it has done over millennia. He has stated my words wonderfully – I am often tempted to do as he has done and air my views in a newspaper’s letters page.

Charles Lowson, Fareham, Hants

Green light

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie says he will “push the Indy case to the world” at COP26. It's amazing what you can do when only 34,000 of Scotland's 4.3 million voters gave you their first choice vote in the Holyrood elections but the SNP are relying on you to keep them in Government.

Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Burning passion

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Steuart Campbell’s defence of Hinkley nuclear power plant expenditure (Letters, 3 November) fails to mention that it is guaranteed a minimum price of £92.50 per megawatt per hour for 35 years, which the National Audit Office estimates will cost taxpayers £50 billion as the wholesale electricity price has remained much lower. Meanwhile, Ofgem is charging Scottish renewable energy producers the highest connection charges in Europe and well over twice as much as their nearest English counterparts.

Last week’s budget announced a £1.7bn subsidy towards the building of the £20bn Sizewell nuclear plant in Suffolk and the UK government continues to subsidise the polluting, wood-burning Drax coal-fired plant in Yorkshire by almost £1bn every year.

Yet Rishi Sunak failed to match the £500 million the Scottish Government is investing in the north east as part of a just transition away from the oil and gas sector and ignored Scotland’s far better claims for carbon capture investment.

Energy policy is reserved to Westminster and Scotland’s oil and gas revenues have contributed more than £350bn to the UK Treasury. The Tory political gimmick of bypassing the Scottish Government for some minor projects fails to compensate for the historic lack of serious investment by successive UK governments into Scottish renewable manufacturing, such as wind and tidal turbines – particularly in hydrogen fuel cells and electrolysers, as this is the clean energy of the future.

Norway and Denmark invested their oil and gas revenues into world-leading renewable manufacturing, as could any independent Scottish Government.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh

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Tough on tippers

Although the waste problem in Glasgow has been highlighted due to its being the host city for COP26, the issue is not limited to Glasgow – this is a nationwide crisis. Local authorities had to clear just under a million fly-tipping incidents between 2019 and 2020 in England.

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Not only does this spoil the enjoyment of our local towns and countryside, it poses a major health risk to the public. Fly-tipping can entice rodents to gather in the area, with common appearances from rats that are usually difficult to eliminate. Plus, it costs the taxpayers almost £50 million a year to dispose of the waste – a large amount of money that could be reduced.

The pandemic and lockdown restrictions meant there were long waiting hours at tips, causing an increase in individuals and businesses fly-tipping. At one point during the pandemic, there were almost 20,000 incidents of fly-tipping every week. The government must rethink sentencing guidelines for fly-tippers and local councils should be carrying out refuse collections at least once a week – every three weeks is simply not enough to combat the crisis.

Shaun Doak, CEO React Specialist Cleaning, Swadlincote, South Derbyshire

NHS in crisis

The Scottish NHS reels from one crisis after another. Record A&E waiting times again, cancer care being badly affected, big problems with GPs and even bigger problems with NHS dentistry. Not enough beds and an ambulance service that is in meltdown. Mental health provision completely inadequate and the worst drug deaths almost anywhere.

The Covid excuse is now sounding like Nicola Sturgeon’s old favourite of blaming Westminster for everything. It rings hollow – since the Scottish NHS is fully devolved the blame and the buck stops here.

A smiling Sturgeon was pictured on Monday with an eco activist sporting an “uproot the system” logo. This is exactly what Ms Sturgeon and her health minister, Humza Yousaf, are doing to our precious NHS. Nicola Sturgeon always says she takes "full responsibility" for her government’s actions. It is time to act upon that statement.

(Dr) Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

Get real

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The independent chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change has called the First Minister of Scotland’s plan to cut emissions by 75 per cent “overcooked”. He was being kind. It is more like a plan that was devised in La-La land, not Scotland. He pointed out that annual targets to date had all been missed. He claimed that for any kind of success Scotland would have to “establish deep co-operation with the UK policies for decarbonisation”.

The problem is that those making the decisions in Scotland have exactly the opposite aim and, in fact, go out of their way not to co-operate with the rest of the UK. The close-to-fantasy decision to go for Net Zero five years before the rest of the UK was the perfect example of that policy. COP 26 is merely another platform for the unfortunately irrelevant First Minister to scurry around in search of photo-ops with anyone and everyone, however minor, her spinner army can net. It is not an edifying sight.

Making nonsensical claims for events decades ahead is easy. The hard part for the SNP is being honest and realistic.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Battle lines

There were two responses yesterday to my letter of 2 November. First Dr A McCormick contends that the battle of Bannockburn was not a victory for the Scots but the triumph of an Anglo-Norman warlord whom he is reluctant to name or credit as king of the Scots. He then goes on to list a number of Scottish defeats... but he doesn't seem to have noticed that the original reference to Bannockburn didn't come from me, but from one of his fellow Unionists.Then in her letter on opinion polls, Helen Hughes says “ignoring the facts can lead to disaster”. She points out the dangers inherent in this attitude by saying “it's odd that Gill Turner says that independence supporters should put their fingers in their ears and whistle”. Well here's the irony and "a little factual information". I didn't say any such thing. I said "It might be advisable for independence supporters to put their fingers in their ears to drown out the sound of Unionists whistling in the dark".Putting to one side Ms Hughes inability to read and correctly interpret a very simple phrase in a short letter, may I also point out that my letter conceded that the most recent poll showed support for the maintenance of the Union. Ms Hughes points out that support for independence is running at around 45 per cent. Prior to the last referendum, support for independence was under 30 per cent. Now, starting from a base of 45 per cent and looking at the fragmented state of the opposition to independence and the fact that Project Fear has been shorn of one of its main planks with the loss of EU membership… this explains Unionists' slight desperation and why independence supporters remain cautiously optimistic about the result of the next referendum.

Gill Turner, Edinburgh

Goal mouth

Prior to reading Aidan Smith's excellent article on the deification of a retired footballer (2 November), I had recently read the inside stories of the Thai cave rescue, written by the main participants.

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I cannot imagine a greater contrast anywhere than that between the fame/achievement ratios in each case.

Robert Bowers, Longniddry, East Lothian

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