Readers' letters: Nuclear power plants are safer than football matches

Torness nuclear power station at Dunbar is scheduled to be shut down in 2028 (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)Torness nuclear power station at Dunbar is scheduled to be shut down in 2028 (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Torness nuclear power station at Dunbar is scheduled to be shut down in 2028 (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Currently there are 440 nuclear power reactors around the world producing electricity reliably, safely, and at acceptable cost, with about 60 under construction and many more planned.

In the 70-year history of nuclear power there have been three major accidents: firstly at Three Mile Island in 1979 where there were no fatalities; secondly at Chernobyl when perhaps up to 100 deaths were caused by exposure to radiation; and thirdly at Fukushima where there were no fatalities.

In the same time period 66 people died at Ibrox, 39 people died at Heysel in 1985, and 97 people died at Hillsborough. Football matches have been more dangerous than nuclear power plants.

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And perhaps the engineers and scientists in the SNP/Green camp should reflect on the fact that since 1979 there have been 335 deaths on the A9, which makes this road more dangerous than all the nuclear plants ever built.

WB Campbell, Edinburgh

More power

What wonderful news. Plans for future UK power provision for what will be our 60 million-plus population include a nuclear power plant in Scotland (Scotsman, 16 May). At last. Clean energy that does not require the wind to be blowing at a certain speed or in a certain direction and does not need stand-by gas or coal stations in case it is not. Nor does it entail the blighting of our pristine countryside in forests of wind turbines and obscene profits for those on whose land they run.

Clarity and common sense at last. Only dogmatists and the blindly anti-nuclear could find fault. France has been relying on nuclear for generations.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

Way forward

Alister Jack no doubt relished using the nuclear power stick to poke the wasps’ nest that is the SNP government, one that has been in decline since the departure of its queen, Nicola. As expected, its response has been to buzz, loudly.

Even though my life-long political affiliation has been with a party other than Jack’s, he is spot on, supportive arguments being brilliantly summarised in your leader, entitled “Opposition to nuclear power is not credible” (May 16). I strongly agree with the position of the UK Government which has held for more than 20 years that its response to climate change must include the generation of electricity by nuclear reactors. I declare an interest as the frequent use in virological research of radioactive isotopes made in nuclear reactors, and note that the scientist Frederic Soddy won the Nobel Prize for his pioneering work on these substances that he did at the Universities of Glasgow and Aberdeen.

Hugh Pennington, Aberdeen

Back renewables

I write to object to your editorial supporting more nuclear power for Scotland. The only countries pursuing this old-fashioned World War II-based technology to any extent are Russia and China – undemocratic dictatorial regimes. Must Scotland join them?

Instead the new future of renewables is rapidly showing us the way forward – less expensive, safer, less problematic and quicker. Scotland is already a world leader with these. Let's stay with them as several authoritative studies show they can supply all our energy needs.

Dr Ian Fairlie, Vice President CND UK

Criminal behaviour

Yet again the SNP government’s justice policy seems to be in tatters.

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The planned release of some prisoners serving less than four years in prison to ease overcrowding (Scotsman, 17 May) seems to be yet another abrogation of the government’s responsibility to protect the public.

In recent years the government’s sentencing guidelines have seen a drift towards more leniency and less jail time for offenders who formerly would have been incarcerated. New prison building and staffing levels have lagged behind the upward trend of prison population increase to the extent that prison staff are vastly overworked and violence is now more likely to become a problem. HMP Barlinnie's much needed replacement, HMP Glasgow, is behind schedule and over budget and another example of how the government has lost its focus in taking the necessary measures to ensure members of the public can walk the streets in relative safety.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen, Stirling

Shared problems

It never ceases to amaze that those who seem to view Scotland’s ties to the Union as some kind of never-to-be-severed umbilical cord, ironically, if not hypocritically, insist on viewing the Scottish Government’s many challenges as independent of those confronting the rest of the UK.

When complaints are made about the NHS in Scotland it would seem, at least in the minds of some of your regular contributors, that this situation is unrelated to the desperate struggles of the NHS in England and Wales. When local councils are short of funds, causing everything from unrepaired pot holes in our roads to libraries and local facilities closing, it would seem that some think that the fact that the UK’s second largest city, Birmingham, has effectively declared itself bankrupt (along with a number of other council authorities in England), is irrelevant. When there is apparently insufficient money available to fund our public services and many deserving public projects, some unbelievably maintain that the hundreds of billions of pounds squandered due to the misguided, if not corrupt, actions of the UK Government have got nothing to do with the cost-of-living crisis, the housing shortage, fuel poverty and the explosion in the use of food banks in our resource-rich country.

Certainly the Scottish Government is not blameless regarding the country’s current predicament, in spite of its commendable efforts to reduce child poverty and ameliorate the worst effects of UK austerity on the most vulnerable in our society, but when the structure is rotten it is time to build a new structure rather than pretend that a different colour of cladding is going to begin to comprehensively resolve the many challenges facing Scotland, never mind those confronting the rest of the “United Kingdom”.

But what do I know, I’m apparently just another “extremist”!

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian

Talking facts

Mary Thomas (Letters, 17 May) provides us with the usual humorous inventiveness that she has become well-known for. Writing, I imagine, from Brigadoon Crescent she paints the usual picture of a fantasy land that none of us live in. She writes to promote the usual defence of the SNP, in this case “contrary to [my] claims on housing”. My only claim was that the SNP Government had declared a housing emergency. As an old scientist and in my world (the real world) that was what we know as a fact!

There is perhaps a hint that the “new” First Minister is beginning to accept some of the reality of their failure over the years. Perhaps Ms Thomas and her fellow fantasists might also begin to accept some facts – starting with the one I mentioned?

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

Hypocrite Sturgeon

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I could not believe my eyes when I read Nicola Sturgeon claiming that politics is a more toxic and hostile environment, that there has been too much centralisation and not enough power to local authorities (Scotsman, 17 May). All this from the woman who was the very architect of all of that in the first place.

Remember how she conducted herself at FMQS with her hostile and aggressive response to questions. As for centralisation, this was one of the main objectives of her and her government – for example, Police Scotland etc. Real change will only come when the SNP are no longer in power.

Charles Sinclair, Kirkcaldy, Fife

Real change

With the tenth anniversary of the Scottish independence referendum coming up I always find it interesting that unionists go on about the SNP for the polarised nature of Scottish politics.

Did I miss something or did the Better Together campaign not promise change if we voted “No” to stay in the Union? Was change the fact we had three Prime Ministers in one calendar year? Was change the fact we were outside the EU for the first time in 40 years? Was change the fact that we had the shortest-serving Prime Minister of all time? I didn't think that was the change they meant but what is frustrating is that with the incoming Labour government there is nothing to prevent it happening again.

For me, change means radical electoral reform such as switching from the first-past-the-post electoral system to proportional representation, the reform or abolition of the House of Lords and the institution of federalism.

Is the greatest threat to the Union not a Tory party that elects Johnson, Truss and Sunak and an incoming Labour party that changes nothing to stop it happening again?

Peter Ovenstone, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire

Bible lesson

Kate Copstick (Scotsman, 15 May) refers to a verse in “Second Timothy” remarking approvingly that “Old Tim pretty much nailed our recent political classes there”.

Except “Old Tim” did nothing of the kind, because the afore-mentioned book is actually Paul’s Second Epistle to Timothy. It is therefore “Old Paul” she should be commending for his prescience.

Jane Ann Liston, St Andrews, Fife

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