Scottish Government can’t be trusted on green transition - Readers' Letters

The closure of Cockenzie Power Station in East Lothian in 2013 is a distant memory for some but it still holds an important lesson for the oil and gas industry. COP26 was full of cheap talk on the need for a great green transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The only move workers have experienced in Prestonpans is from coal to the green dole.

Cockenzie's landmark chimneys are demolished in 2016 - three years after the East Lothian power station's closure

500 local jobs were lost when Cockenzie puffed its last. Eight years later and not one single job has been replaced. A large gap site awaits wind transformers but there is net zero employment for local workers. While the Scottish Government stuffs its own ranks with “climate strategists” they are doing nothing on the ground for former coal communities.

The same government strategists who failed Scottish workers on wind power jobs are now trying to redeem their reputation with hydrogen. 300,000 Scottish jobs are claimed by 2045, selling an uneconomic fuel to German industry. Instead of wasting public money on more green adventures we should instead be investing in climate mitigation measures.

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Raising prosperity is the key to defending Scotland against climate change: having your house flooded or the roof blown off is only a catastrophe if you can't afford the insurance. This key lesson was missed at COP26 and now we have the Scottish Green coalition actively pushing against economic growth. A nation lost to mindless virtue signalling is destined to fail.

Before our First Minister manoeuvres her monster-spin-machine against the new Cambo oil field (Scotsman, 17 November), she should look around the board to see who else is playing. For Vladimir Putin is waiting to fill every cut in Scottish oil and gas production and he has big plans on his border for all that profit.

Scotland can make a massive contribution to European CO2 cuts, and we can help our European friends wrestle with the Russian bear. But first we need to build many more Cambo fields, replace coal with gas and buy time for nuclear power to catch up. We many even succeed in employing a few local workers along the way.

Calum Miller, Independent Candidate Preston, Seton & Gosford council by-election, Prestonpans, East Lothian

Smart thinking

So Nicola Sturgeon has come out in opposition to the 800 million-barrel Cambo field off Shetland. Is this just to please her new allies in the form of the Greens, or is it simply because the decision is one for Westminster, and not Holyrood?

It would appear that some of the SNP’s elected politicians in or around Aberdeen and the north-east are opposing her decision to reject this concept of a boost for the economy. But then, of course, it is not a decision for Sturgeon or her colleagues to make anyway. Oil and gas exploration off these Islands remains within the brief of Westminster.

So Nicola Sturgeon can safely protest against such further exploration and just let the UK government take the flak from the conservationists.

Robert I G Scott, Ceres, Fife

Masks covered

How serious is the Scottish Government about greater stringency on the use of face coverings to limit the spread of Covid (Scotsman, 19 November)?

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As with the vexed question of vaccine passports, the question of how it could be enforced comes into play. Is every shop to be obliged not only to have someone on the door to monitor use but also to make sure they are worn properly when customers are inside? Is every bus driver or train ticket inspector to be obliged to confront passengers as they enter and then to watch closely to ensure they comply? Is everyone working in a public service or building to be expected to keep their face covered for an entire shift?

It should be clear to anyone who uses buses regularly or visits malls and stores regularly or football grounds frequently that face covering compliance could be improved. But there are serious questions of economy and practicality to be considered. The matter could even raise serious questions about civil liberties, and how far the state should intervene in our lives. In the United States there has been unfortunate harassment of individuals whose job is either to promote the vaccines or to ensure public safety.

What Deputy First Minister John Swinney needs to ponder over in the next few days is whether a return to lockdown may be seen as fairer and more workable if Covid spread is to be restrained. People may well accept that form of restraint if it is seen to apply to everyone. It may be a viable alternative to the introduction, say, of “Covid Monitors” to check on face covering use and how well a vaccine passport system is working.

Bob Taylor, Glenrothes, Fife

Off the rails

I was surprised to see the headline "Fury as fast rail link to the North is scrapped" (Scotsman, 19 November). I immediately assumed I had missed out on an earlier Scottish Government plan to improve railways north of the Central Belt. However on reading further it appears to be a story based on the railways around Yorkshire.

Whilst I support the aspirations of the people of the North of England, where is the Scottish perspective on the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) that I would expect from Scotland's national newspaper? As far as I can see there are no negatives in the IRP for Scotland.

If your correspondent had read the report he might have noticed that HS2 will continue slightly further north and join the West Coast railway at a less congested part of the line to the benefit of Scotland. In addition it also proposes a 30-minute reduction in travel time between Edinburgh, Fife, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness on journeys to London via the East Coast. The very destinations that ScotRail proposes to cut frequency and increase journey times from next year.

Allan Morton, Kirkcaldy, Fife

Left in the dark

Recently we came across a cyclist wearing a a “gilet jaune” who indicated their intention to turn right by sticking out a black sleeved and gloved arm! No good at all really, and lucky not to be run over.

No lights, no helmet and lack of checking a non-existent mirror seems to be a rather frequently occurring scenario.

Margot Kerr, Inverness, Highland

Over the top

Those calling for minimum unit alcohol prices to be increased (Scotsman, 19 November) resemble First World War generals stuck in the belief that sending a few more men over the top will achieve their goals.

Their policy has failed miserably but they want more of the same. The real problem drinkers don't care what alcohol costs, but moderate drinkers on limited budgets would be penalised at a time when other costs are rising rapidly.

Bob Cairns, Edinburgh

Road rage

Fergus Ewing, the SNP MSP for Inverness and Nairn stood up in Holyrood this week during the debate on road infrastructure and said: “In rural Scotland – 98 per cent of our country’s land mass is rural – a car, van or tractor is a necessity, not a luxury. It will never be anything else; that will remain the case in perpetuity. For the majority of people in rural Scotland the car will, as far as we can see, continue to be the only method of transport.” I couldn’t agree more.

Why then did he vote against the motion which asked “That the Parliament recognises that driving in most parts of Scotland is a necessity” going on to ask the Scottish Government to reaffirm its commitment to dualling the A9 and A96 – both roads used by his constituents? This is the answer: no SNP MSP will ever vote against the party whip. He can say what he wants in the debate but he will toe the party line and abandon his constituents and all others here in the north of Scotland who just want to be able to travel safely between our two major cities here and down to the Central Belt.

The Greens are blind to the fact that sitting behind a tractor in second gear will be harming the environment more than flowing traffic can ever do and if we ever get to the stage of having less harmful vehicles, we still won’t have the infrastructure. I can only hope that Fergus Ewing’s constituents pay heed to his voting record rather than his words as they are meaningless if he does not walk the walk.

Jane Lax, Aberlour, Moray

Wrong targets

I agree with John Munro (Letters, 17 November) that the policy on attainment levels needs reviewed. It is “social engineering” rather than education and reflects an autocratic “top down”, “one size fits all” approach to schooling which ignores the vast differences among children.

Obsession with comparisons based on exams does much harm to many pupils, especially those who do poorly. Schools do little for the many who will do low-skilled but essential jobs.

What does it matter if children in Alloa have lower marks in maths than those in Singapore (or even Stirling)? Far more important are health, emotions and attitudes. Many children experience bullying, homophobia and sexism in and out of school.

There are high levels of physical and mental ill health among children. This bodes ill for their futures. Reducing "attainment gaps" and “raising (academic) standards” will do little to resolve these problems.

Laura Preston, Perth, Perth and Kinross

Game over

It has just been announced that new legislation is being introduced to allow police to prosecute anyone playing games on their phone whilst driving.

That this blatant disregard for road safety only now necessitates such a step, is surely an indictment on the previous ingenuity of prosecutors and the foresight of legislators.

John Rhind, Beadnell. Northumberland

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