Readers Letters: What's with government's relentless assault on rural and remote areas?

The failure to complete the dualling of the A9 has one reader worried (Picture: John Devlin)The failure to complete the dualling of the A9 has one reader worried (Picture: John Devlin)
The failure to complete the dualling of the A9 has one reader worried (Picture: John Devlin)
I’m very keen on sustainable living and protecting the planet, but I’m wondering if there is a more radical Green agenda afoot nationally than just what is happening with Edinburgh City Council as per Jill Stephenson’s letter (5 June).

Look at the evidence: tourism minister scrapped, ferries to the islands in chaos, accommodation licences and tourism taxes to be imposed, persistently failing to dual the A9, and now marine protected areas to be enforced. In addition, a vegan agenda (and I speak as a non-meat eater) pushed when most farmers in the Highlands and Islands rear cattle and sheep – are they expected to grow avocados?

One more issue will be the coming ban on the sale or renting of properties falling below a C-rated energy efficiency, huge numbers are in rural areas. This list goes on.

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While a few of these proposals, such as tourist tax, have merit and issues like energy efficiency need to be addressed, taken together it seems like a relentless assault on rural and remote areas, and indeed, ordinary people throughout Scotland, as many city dwellers value and cherish the Highlands and Islands equally as those in residence.

Perhaps the aim is to force us all into Green Party utopian city-based 20-minute communities and re-wild the whole of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland or cover them completely in wind turbines.

Lorna Thorpe, Alyth, Perth and Kinross

Killing dreams

The new Dornoch plan is under preparation, but it seems that Highland Council wishes to restrict any more new housing in order to avoid capital expenditure that it cannot afford. We have arrived at an impossible situation.

At long last we have a town in Sutherland that requires new housing to accommodate a rapidly expanding population. The reason for our success has been golf tourism and the employment it provides. Yet we have a government that refuses us permission to build a new golf course and any new housing.

Duncan Allan, Dornoch, Highland

Glass acting

On the deposit return scheme, it is a matter for real concern that Humza Yousaf, the leader of the Scottish Government, can give out information which is the precise opposite of what he has been told by a major Scottish company.

Tennent’s lager owner C&C Group have stated, in a letter to Alister Jack, that their letter to Mr Yousaf was “leaked to the media”. The company states that Mr Yousaf was “misrepresenting C&C/Tennent’s position on DRS”. The company continues that it supports “a UK-wide scheme” and that that has been their “preferred outcome since 2017”.

Mr Yousaf actually wrote to Rishi Sunak saying Tennent’s had stated to him that they had been “explicit” to him saying that the UK Government's position “threatens investment and jobs”. In fact, Tennent’s wrote to Mr Jack stating that “to provide absolute clarity… C&C Group cannot therefore support a standalone Scottish DRS scheme that excludes glass”.

It should be added that the SNP/Green scheme is not for recycling of glass. It is actually to grind the returned glass down and use it for aggregate in roads, not to be recycled into other bottles. So, if the Greens are against new road developments, as they say, what exactly is going to be done with the glass? The SNP/ Green stance seems to be disingenuous, if not downright dishonest.

Peter Hopkins, Edinburgh

Bottles banked

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In the late 1950s and early 1960s, as a young boy in the Gorbals of Glasgow, I searched for glass bottles. I exchanged them for old threepennies (just over 1p now) in the greengrocer or for entry to the cinema. The scheme worked brilliantly without computers, bar codes and the automation of modern times. I think critics protest too much. We need to motivate children and adults in recycling. Exchanging bottles for money inhibits throwing them away, or even worse, smashing them for fun.

Raj Bhopal CBE, Edinburgh

In a pickle

We should all be glad to see the demise of the ludicrous deposit return scheme. It is simply a tax, coming at a time it can be least afforded. It is also built on rather shaky foundations.

It will not cost 20p per drinks container. It will be nearer 40p once the costs of administration, production and operations are factored in. It will not increase glass recycling, which is already up to 90 per cent in places according to Zero Waste Scotland. Two thirds of my bi-weekly council collection is non-beverage glass (jam, sauce, pickle jars), which presumably just get thrown to landfill. Most litter I see is plastic wrappers, coffee cups and fast food wrappers. Why not devise a scheme to resolve the real problem? We should all be relieved to see the back of DRS, though we will still be hit by a more workable, less punitive version in two years time. Hopefully we will also be relieved of Lorna Slater too. We can afford to spend that last extra bit of taxpayers’ money to drive her to a destination far away from Holyrood.

Ken Currie, Edinburgh

Not so bad

Allan Sutherland’s “Scottish cringe” (Letters, 6 June) rather makes Elizabeth Scott’s point with his dystopian characterisation of Scotland in 2023.

While the UK prevaricates on climate change, Scotland led the way on the Deposit Return Scheme that included glass from its inception, as did those in England and Wales.

Contrary to Mr Sutherland’s claims, the latest figures show 92.8 per cent of all Scottish school leavers, 91 per cent of college leavers and over 90 per cent of Scottish university leavers were in positive destinations. The educational attainment gap is narrowing considerably, with 10.3 per cent of the most disadvantaged pupils achieving Advanced Highers last year compared to only 4.7 per cent in 2010.

Thanks to the unique Scottish Child Payment of £25 a week per child, we are leading the way on tackling child poverty, with the very poorest families much better off than elsewhere in the UK.

By any measure, Scotland’s NHS is performing much better than the health service in England or Wales on A&E and cancer waiting times, plus there has been a steady decline in delayed hospital discharges. Our NHS is equipped for 98 per cent of all planned operations thanks to more doctors, nurses and hospital beds per head of population – but unlike in Wales or England, no strikes are required to force government action on pay deals.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh


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You don’t have to be a motor enthusiast to know that if you put a lawnmower engine into a Jaguar you won't get much in the way of performance. I was reminded of this listening to the lamentably incompetent performances of a number of our ministers these past few weeks. Why do we have to be lumbered with people who have neither the competence nor the experience to deal with the areas of which they're supposed to be in charge?

I’ve refrained from naming names, but the people in question know who they are and so, more importantly, do the Scottish public. We really do deserve so much better from those who are selected to “lead” us. I recall only one Minister in recent months who was demonstrably “fit for purpose” – Kate Forbes. And we all know what happened to her. Sacked out of petty spite by one failed health minister and replaced by another failed health minister whose experience in the financial area could be written on the back of a cigarette packet.

Early in the First World War, German High Command described British troops as “lions led by donkeys”. No prizes for guessing who today’s donkeys are.

D Mason, Penicuik, Midlothian

Battery of problems

A review by the Institute of Structural Engineers said that old multi-storey car parks must be adapted to cope with heavy electric vehicles or risk partial collapse (your report. 5 June). Not before time, since an electric vehicle can be twice the weight of a petrol/diesel one because of the additional weight of electric batteries. Yet another example of the law of unintended consequences in the rush to go green without due diligence.

Another is the well-recorded fire risk from the lithium-ion batteries. Germany and several other countries have banned EVs from parking in underground facilities since lithium-ion battery fires cannot be extinguished but have to be left to burn out. Transport for London has banned e-scooters and e-cycles from its trains, buses and trams because of numerous fires. E-bike and e-scooter fires have injured at least 190 people in the UK and killed eight. Still thinking of buying one to save the planet?

Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian

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