Readers' letters: Rejecting nuclear power is a form of national self-harm

Dr Richard Dixon thinks that renewables and energy efficiency are all we need to keep the lights on (“No place for nuclear in our power plans”, Scotsman, 23 June)

Studies have shown that energy efficiency measures (mainly increased thermal insulation) do not result in less demand for electricity or gas. Beneficiaries of the increased insulation take the improvement in an increase in comfort, not lower fuel bills. In any case, too many houses in the UK have inadequate insulation, so improving it will take a long time. Meanwhile increased efficiency is theoretical rather than practical.Renewable methods of generating electricity suffer from intermittency and so are unreliable. The National Grid requires reliability, which nuclear power can supply.

Dr Dixon points to defects in the Torness reactors, but this is irrelevant to replacement stations which do not have the same configuration. The AGR stations have supplied much-needed electricity since the 1980s.He also point to the "toxic legacy of radioactive waste to worry about for thousands of years”. This waste is not toxic, but it can be hazardous, depending on its grading. Only one per cent of waste is hazardous and that is carefully handled and stored. Perhaps Dr Dixon does not realise that the longer the half-life of a radioactive element, the less hazardous it is. Plutonium-239 has a half-life of about 24,000 years but it is safe to handle.

As for costs, they would not be so high if the “linear no threshold” model of radioactive protection was not applied. This discredited model is responsible for much of the needless protection built into modern nuclear power plants. Low-level radiation is not harmful. We live in a naturally radioactive environment. Anyway, if we want a reliable electricity supply, the generation of which does not cause greenhouse-gas emissions, we have to pay for it. Eschewing nuclear power is a form of national self-harm.

The National Grid requires reliability of supply

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

Tory honour

So the Tories have lost vital by-elections and Sir Oliver Dowden has resigned as chairman. Tory MPs have shown some sympathy for their ex-chairman, calling him an honourable man.

But Conservative MPs now have to face reality. The fact is that the electorate is focusing on honour right now. So those who have supported Boris Johnson for as long as they possibly could cannot now come across as honourable. That bird has flown.

Conservative MPs have to realign with the decent Tory voters who have repeatedly sent the message that the party needs a complete reset.

This moment has some similarity with the way voters became disillusioned with Tony Blair and his dodgy dossier. A rejection of dodgy leaders caused Labour to have more than a decade of introspection.

The message is that when you feel sick you are often best to vomit. The longer it takes to learn lessons, the longer the introspection will go on. Honest argument, honest evaluation, honest behaviour, and honest stock-taking are now needed. I want to see an honest Conservative Party arise by the time of the next election. But there must be new faces taking over Tory leadership. If I see a prime minister Gove, or Rabb campaigning at the next election, I will vomit.

Andrew Vass, Edinburgh

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By-election blow

Losing two by-elections in one day will have come as a bitter – if hardly unexpected – blow to the Tory Party. The wailing and gnashing of teeth will, however, be even greater amongst the ranks of the SNP.

Another chime in the death knell of Boris Johnson is good for the country but not for the SNP. As their campaign in the recent local elections showed he is certainly their best if not their only weapon in their separation crusade. Whoever succeeds him will, of course, become the new bête noire but none of the likely candidates will create anything like as much stigma as Boris Johnson.

Nor will the SNP be relishing the resurgence of the Labour and Liberal Democrat parties. Indeed the return of a Labour government at the next UK election – or even a Labour/Lib Den coalition – would make the SNP very wary of demanding a referendum and would put paid to any hopes of independence for, well, maybe a generation.

Colin Hamilton, Edinburgh

Scotland in danger

Anti-independence voices are growing increasingly shrill each day and appear to fall mainly into two camps – (a) the poorly informed; and (b) the plain delusional, including the usual North Briton politicians like Ian Murray (Labour) and the Murdo Fraser (Tory).

To be fair to the former group, it is difficult not to be poorly informed, given that the mainstream media’s default pro-Union position doesn’t reflect either (a) the sustained support for independence from half of Scottish voters over the last six years, or (b) the extreme danger posed to Scotland’s economic well-being from its status as a GB region within in the post-Brexit economic future that awaits us, tied to the ailing British economy. Both the OECD and IMF recently forecast zero growth for the GB economy over the next year (the lowest for any developed nation) and the highest inflation.

In contrast, the strong economic performance of Scotland’s equivalent size neighbours, for example Denmark and Ireland (both have a per-capita GDP at least 30 per cent higher that the UK’s), demonstrates the resilience of medium-size economies that connect, adapt and grow within the wider single EU market. Scotland is (potentially) an energy powerhouse and our broader wealth and resources at least match those of our equivalent-sized and prosperous neighbours. But crucially, without independence and our place alongside our peers in our regional single market, we lack the wherewithal to manage them for our economic security.

The post-Brexit GB economy is in long-term decline; there is no US trade agreement in sight to save it. Scotland is neither small nor poor; but trapped inside the GB economy, we are isolated and in long-term economic danger, in sharp contrast to our near neighbours across the North and Irish seas. The only route to a successful and prosperous Scotland that is able to realise the benefits of its own considerable wealth is independence and membership of our regional/European single market.

D Jamieson, Dunbar, East Lothian

Too stupid

Les Mackay (Letters, 23 June) writes that Westminster says Scotland is “too wee, too poor and too stupid” to be independent.

Was this really ever said by the UK Government? It is often quoted but I fear it is more stated by those vying for independence, probably with a view to incite division but possibly also a reflection of the reality of the SNP – who are too wee, too poor and certainly too stupid to be in charge of a country.

I feel quite justified in saying this as they have built up a very real and far from impressive track record of failure, inaction and sheer incompetence. Meanwhile I am off to re-read my childhood copies of the Oor Wullie Annuals to brush up on my Scots.

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

Tongue tied

Crawford Mackie casting doubt on there being a verifiable Scots language (Letters, 23 June) brought to mind a scene in the film The Road to Bali in which Bob Hope and Bing Crosby (in kilts) sang: “Hoots, mon, whaur ur y’ gaun who dae y’ think y’ ur...r...r”. And so on.

This was in a major production for worldwide distribution so the hard-headed bean counters at Paramount Pictures must have thought there was some sort of Scots tongue which would have been widely recognised at that time.

Perhaps Mr Mackie was having a wee attack of the heedrum-hodrums.

S Beck, Edinburgh

Covid facts

With a 30 per cent rise in infections and a 15 per cent rise in hospitalisations in the past week should we be worried about the new Covid wave?

Health experts like Linda Bauld are not overly concerned given Covid deaths are running about 40 a week and the over-75s and the clinically vulnerable have a degree of protection through the second booster. This, however, masks the risk of long Covid, currently affecting 150,000 in Scotland, a very serious illness. Furthermore, experts have expressed concern over potential new variants and called for a vaccination programme for the over-50s in the autumn, which is to be welcomed given the majority of the population seem to no longer be taking precautions.

The Scottish Government could point out that the majority of cases are amongst women between 20 and 64. Its own data shows that since February women in this age groups are up to twice as likely to contract Covid than men and up to three times as likely to be reinfected than men. In the week commencing 13 June, for example, cases for women in this age group were 82 per cent higher than for similarly aged men and in the previous two weeks 74 per cent higher.

The Scottish Government was warned about a potentially higher rate of infection for women in its Omicron report published in January. With this now realised it matters that young and middle-aged women know they are potentially much more susceptible to infection from Omicron. The government needs to come clean and communicate all the facts about Covid.

Neil Anderson, Edinburgh

Pot and kettle

In the Patrick Grady MP case (Scotsman, 24 June), a taped SNP meeting shows another group of British politicians who do not think rules and conventions apply to them. Yet this same SNP frequently points the finger at other representatives!

William Ballantine, Bo’ness, West Lothian

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