Readers' Letters: Scottish ministers are addicted to wind farms

NatureScot, a body funded mainly by the Scottish Government, and responsible for advising Scottish ministers on all matters relating to natural heritage, have withdrawn their objection to an application for an extension to a wind farm in Sutherland because the area can no longer be classed as wilderness.

This is due to the number of already existing and consented wind farms in the area. It may seem that they have thrown in the towel as defenders of our natural heritage but they are not to blame as some people may think. The blame lies at the feet of decision makers; councillors in this case but, more often than not, with the Scottish ministers who are obsessed with consenting to wind farms in the wrong places due to the lack of “right places” still available.

They ignore NatureScot’s expert opinion, in the same way as they ignore other consultees, including communities. This attitude is extended to their own Reporters who are employed to make decisions on behalf of, or recommendations to, ministers on planning applications. Two wind farms on Orkney were recommended for refusal by two separate Reporters due to “significant adverse effects which would not be outweighed by the benefits which could be directly attributed to them” but still, ministers chose to turn a blind eye and grant consent.

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Anyone else with an addiction of this magnitude would be sent for counselling or even convicted of a criminal offence. Enough said.

Ever more wind turbines are popping up on the Scottish landscape (Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty)
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Aileen Jackson, Uplawmoor, East Renfrewshire

Logic problem

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I'm old enough to remember when Conservatives used to extol the virtues of a balanced budget. Of how it was immoral to ask future generations to pay for the financial excesses of today.

The Conservatives have been in power for the last 12 years. In that time, the national debt has more than doubled. Perhaps a Conservative supporter could enlighten us as to why debt no longer matters? It would seem that financial discipline is no longer viewed as virtuous in Conservative circles.

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And, if it's acceptable for this government to borrow tens of billions in order to finance tax cuts, which overwhelmingly favour the rich, would it also be acceptable to borrow billions to improve the NHS; to build good quality, affordable housing; for new roads; higher benefits and pensions; more generous public sector pay awards etc?

George Shanks, Edinburgh

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Moving on

Brian Monteith joins in media speculation that top rate taxpayers in Scotland could move to England (Perspective, 26 September). He ignores the financial costs of moving house, such as estate agent, legal and removal firm fees, which could amount to more than any tax a top rate taxpayer might save by relocating. He also ignores the social costs of relocating, such as disruption to a partner’s career, young people’s education, and family and social lives. The latter costs could outweigh any others.

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The key question Mr Monteith should have addressed is that the pound has fallen to record lows against the dollar.

E Campbell, Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire

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National Trust says wind farms should be halted in remote, wild land

Good to go

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Nicola Sturgeon has a real dilemma on her hands. If she cuts taxes she is being led by the Tories at Westminster. If she leaves taxes alone the gulf between taxation across the Border becomes significant. She also could do with raising taxes even further as her coffers are bare, yet she faces aggressive pay demands on several fronts. Her retirement that she has mentioned several times is looking like a rather attractive option!

Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

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Bankrupts ahead

No wonder Kwasi Kwarteng looked uncertain on the BBC on Sunday. Finally the real cost of living crisis elephant in UK living rooms – the interest rate – is being discussed in the media.

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The slump in the pound will make our imports more expensive in increased inflation. The Bank of England will have to raise interest rates and buy Sterling to keep its value up. If rates go up to 7 per cent as predicted someone earning £35,000 per year with an average £130,000 mortgage paying 2 per cent interest at the moment would need £6,500 more after tax, £9,000 before tax – a pay rise of 25 per cent. Annual interest on an average new mortgage of £220,000 would increase by £11,000, requiring a £16,000 pay rise. This will kill the housing market and bankrupt thousands.

We are paying the price for the last 40 years of an economy based on building houses, shopping for cheap imported goods and buying and selling money.

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Allan Sutherland, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Time to vote

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Thank goodness Scotland has a progressive taxation system in place, a system that recognises the need for a socially just society, something this cost of living crisis will unfortunately demonstrate in time. The new Chancellor brought forth his first budget, a budget without morals, a budget rewarding bankers and multi-national fuel companies, a budget giving the largest tax cuts in half a century to the better off and a budget taking from the poor and giving to the rich, increasing inequality and poverty.

The Chancellor made much of the following sentiments in his statement, “we don’t believe the state should take more and more of people’s incomes”. How I wish those sentiments were extended to those on Universal Credit and benefits, who were warned by the Chancellor that strengthening sanctions will follow. The country was deafened by the Chancellor’s silence on assistance for pensioners, carers and the vulnerable. This budget was all about enhancing the incomes of the better off, so let us draw breath and take stock. The new Chancellor does not have a mandate from the country for his proposals, so let’s put those proposals to the country through a general election, because the country simply cannot continue with any more austerity, there is only so much charities can do to fill the gaps, because their incomes are being depleted by the cost of living crisis. If the country is to survive we need a general election and we need it now.

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Catriona C Clark, Banknock, Falkirk

Healthy formula?

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Fraser Grant views the NHS in Scotland through rose-tinted glasses, even if he is obliged to admit that it is struggling (Letters, 26 September). But hiring more NHS staff per head than elsewhere in the UK, which he lauds, depends on the generosity of Barnett formula funding. When the formula was established years ago, it took account of Scotland's poor health record. It's just as well that Barnett is still in place. Today, Scots have the lowest life expectancy in Europe, and it is not improving. A better name for our NHS would be the National Illness Service.

Hugh Pennington, Aberdeen

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Chance missed

As 1984 draws ever closer under increasingly totalitarian Tory government it is difficult to set aside thoughts of what might have been if we had collectively summoned-up the confidence in 2014 to vote for Scotland to determine its own future.

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At that time not only were we enjoying all the many benefits of European citizenship, government debt was less than half of what it is today and the pound was worth 50 per cent more against the dollar. Economically, even allowing for what may have been the most difficult and protracted negotiations with the government at Westminster and ignoring the enormous benefit to Scotland of an oil price that has doubled, remaining in the United Kingdom has been disastrous for Scotland and its citizens, except for the super-rich Tory donors who have maximised their earnings (and minimised their taxes) through hidden offshore bank accounts. The poor and underprivileged have suffered most as the prices of life’s basics have increased by huge amounts, way beyond inflation, rising above a staggering 10 per cent, while food banks have proliferated and benefits have been substantially cut. Even though it is more than self-sufficient in energy resources, including an enormous base of renewables, Scotland has been at the mercy of pricing in international markets because of the dogmatic pursuit of “free-market economics” by successive governments at Westminster.

After eight years the people of Malta had the conviction and courage to pursue a different path and change their minds in a second constitutional referendum, and have not looked back since independence. Hopefully those who previously were hesitant about supporting constitutional change are now persuaded that together with their fellow citizens in Scotland they must vote to have a greater say in determining their own futures and the futures of their children.

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Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian

Posting question

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With the arrival of King Charles III, will the Royal Cypher on pillar boxes now be changed to C3 PO?

John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing, Fife

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Loch elsewhere

Further to Steuart Campbell’s letter (26 September), George F Campbell’s book The First and Lost Iona has the best explanation of the Loch Ness Monster I have seen. It is the prow of a Viking warship scuttled many centuries ago when the Vikings left the area. It lay on the edge of the Loch until disturbed by rock blasting in the 1930s when the new road on the west side of the Loch was built. Currents in the Loch move it about and this is why it has been seen in various locations.

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This is consistent with what my father saw in 1959, a long greeny brown neck with a small head which moved along before diving out of sight.

Colin McAllister, St Andrews, Fife

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