Readers' Letters: We only have ourselves to blame for energy crisis

This autumn’s equinox will see our self-inflicted energy crisis hit by a perfect storm. Wind farms have stood idle, a fire in our key cable to France’s nuclear power will interrupt supplies till next spring, post-Covid economic recovery and tightening Russian and Irish supplies mean gas prices will rocket. The cost of both heating and lighting our homes will ensure fuel poverty is the “Scottish Disease” for years to come.

Gas prices are rocketing

Yet it needn’t have been such a shambles. Twenty years ago Holyrood’s first scientific adviser, the distinguished St Andrews physics Professor Wilson Sibbett, warned that climate hysteria was a fad, not a science; that energy’s priorities were reliability and affordability; that for Scotland with its vast shale reserves in industrial Fife and the Central Lowlands, fracking ticked all the residential and industrial boxes.

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Mocking Heath Robison devices like windmills, solar panels and tidal barrages, he observed the Stone Age didn’t end because we ran out of stone and that the fossil fuel era would pass not because of political diktats but as a result of unexpected advances and human ingenuity.

Scientifically-challenged politicos insist there will be no black-outs. I trust you have paraffin stoves and propane lanterns in your store room.

Dr John Cameron, St Andrews, Fife

Go for shale gas

Boris Johnston said that the current electricity and gas crisis shows that we must build more wind turbines. Shadow business secretary Ed Miliband wants more wind turbines to "meet net zero with affordability and security". Politicians are out of touch with reality.

Affordability? Electricity is 5.6 times more expensive than gas. Security? Fossil fuels this month provided, on average, 55 per cent of our electricity needs, nuclear 16 per cent, renewables a pitiful 10.6 per cent and imports 10 per cent.

Coal power plants had to be reconnected to stop blackouts. Wind turbines have never provided reliable or cheap electricity. Politicians must suspend the 12 per cent green levies on our energy bills, cancel constraint payments which have added £1 billion to our electricity bills, reopen gas storage facilities and start shale gas extraction.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian

Covid confusion

Your article by Graham Checkley (22 September), who favours eliminating the Covid-19 virus rather than living with it, is puzzling. We would all, of course, like to get to zero Covid, but it was fairly obvious when Nicola Sturgeon was hopefully pointing Scotland in that direction, that she was probably being naive.

Zero Covid Scotland, of which Graham Checkley is "a member”, is obviously a political compaigning group, rather than a medical one. Checkley is described as “an independent researcher”, but of what exactly, and in what standing?

We laymen are all dependent on consensus, and with the game changing all the time, we need to be stoically sceptical, defend free speech, and treat governmental and scientific/medical pronouncements with respect tempered by due care. This is for the very good reason that the Covid problem is fiendishly complicated.

Crawford Mackie, Edinburgh

Dark tunnel

Nicola Sturgeon has hailed a "mere" 3,000 or so new daily cases of coronavirus as showing that we are coming out of this pandemic. Yes these figures are slightly better but we need to see them in tens or low hundreds not thousands before we are seeing real light at the end of the tunnel.

This dark tunnel still contains long ambulance call out waits, difficulties in seeing a GP, huge waiting lists for elective surgery and mental health issues and unresolved dental appointement problems.

Our new flagship hospitals in Edinburgh and Glasgow are still having problems and recruitment for the many vacant health service positions is moving at a snail's pace. We need 1,000 new beds and the staff to go with it.

Does Nicola Sturgeon really think most Scots want her to have independence as front and centre of her thoughts?

(Dr) Gerald Edwards, Glasgow

Hail the NHS

When Hugh Pennington (Letters, 22 September) asks for some evidence that Scotland would be better off as a self-governing nation, he should look no further than NHS Scotland, which is the best resourced and best performing in the UK.

Since the SNP came to power, our better paid staffing has increased by 11,000 and we have more dentists, doctors, nurses and hospital beds per head of population than others in the UK. Also, contrary to some press reports, our ambulance service and A&E departments are currently performing much better than in England or Wales.

Scotland has a fewer total number of Covid cases and deaths per head of population but has administered more jags. All mainly thanks to our wonderful NHS staff and partly due to Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh

Brexit disaster

I agree with Professor Peter Jackson’s conclusion (Scotsman, 21 September) that “post-Brexit UK is an isolated second-rank power”.

I have just returned from a week in France and was astonished at the reaction of the ex-pat community there. Many have taken out French citizenship; others have searched for an Irish ancestor so that they can become Irish citizens and thus remain “European”.

The government finds it convenient that the Covid pandemic can be blamed for all difficulties and shortfalls, when in fact Brexit has proved to be an unmitigated disaster.

Lord Steel of Aikwood, Selkirk, Scottish Borders

Battery power

The feature on the Royal Mail's plan to use mini electric vehicles for deliveries (Scotsman, 21 September) reminded me of my experience as a student back in the 1950s.

A good holiday job was to help with the seasonal mail. In my local village in Midlothian the Post Office borrowed the electric float from the ice cream parlour for delivering the many parcels.

I was as yet not licensed to drive but was permitted to do so on driveways up to farms and large houses – my first experience of controlling a powered vehicle!

(Dr) Richard A Bowie, Kirkcaldy, Fife

Housing alert

News that 300,000 people in Scotland are unable to their pay rent or mortgage is extremely unsettling. Losing your home is always an emergency and we must prepare for the tsunami of evictions which are inevitable as the additional protections for tenants, introduced in response to the pandemic, expire. Tenants across the country are building up unmanageable arrears and are clearly in need of support.

The Scottish Government must act now to avoid this situation getting any worse. Thousands of families and individuals urgently need the tenant grant to help them get out of debt, and keep the roof over their heads, especially at a time when the £20 cut to Universal Credit and a likely energy price hike are about to bite.

The coronavirus pandemic has shown that good housing is a matter of life and death. But we must not forget that Scotland had a housing emergency before the pandemic hit.

With thousands of people losing their jobs, and many battling with rent arrears, we need action to make sure this economic crisis doesn’t deepen our housing emergency.

Alison Watson, Director, Sheltar Scotland, Edinburgh

Scottish patriots

Murdo Fraser’s latest article is interesting (Scotsman, 22 September), although you can disagree with some of what he says – for example that Scotland was mostly a successful nation; economically that is questionable.

Some of what he says makes him sound like a nationalist, and in effect he highlights how the SNP has highjacked regional pride, which we all share, to equate this with nationalism.

We are all proud Scots, but many who feel this think it means voting SNP. It’s more than high time that this link was broken.

William Ballantine, Bo’ness, West Lothian

Tired rhetoric

While reading Murdo Fraser’s predictable SNP bashing column, I replaced any mention of “Scottish Government” with “UK Government” and any mention of “UK Government” with “EU” and it made so much more sense: for example, “Current UK nationalism needs the EU to exist so that it can define itself against it.”

Murdo Fraser should be aware that this sort of tired rhetoric works in many ways.

D Mitchell, Edinburgh

Gas irony

We are soon to enjoy the arrival of thousands of foreign delegates in Glasgow for Cop26 to discuss the excessive amount of man-made CO2 in the atmosphere.

This will be a chance for a general transmission of lots of Covid and the creation of huge amounts of CO2 by all those earnest people flying here and telling us not to fly.

Motorcades of cars will ferry those same delegates to the venues where they will tell us not to use cars.

They will be fed on excellent produce including meat and fish from Scottish farms and seas, before they tell us not to eat meat, or catch fish. They will all be exhaling CO2 as they talk, before they all fly back home, creating yet more CO2.

As if that were not enough, we now find that there are problems in the commercial sector in the UK with something which is essential for the production of many foodstuffs – for salads, fizzy drinks, beer and cider, for keeping food fresh and for other things like stunning pigs for slaughter – for manufacturing semi-conductors and for fertiliser etc. There is a shortage of CO2!

You couldn’t make it up.

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

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