The sleeping giants that are changing the Highlands - Readers' Letters

I live in Sutherland in the Highlands. I sit at my kitchen window and every day I watch the wind turbines on the opposite hill. They seldom turn. They stand tall and white dominating the countryside, but they do not turn. Every now and again one will slowly wake up and flex its long carbon fibre arms for a short while before returning to its dormant state of slumber.

Is the sheer number of wind farms in Scotland causing problems?
Is the sheer number of wind farms in Scotland causing problems?

It won’t be long now before the wind farm on the hill to my left is built and I wonder if these turbines will also stand like guardsmen on parade waiting for the wind, tall and prominent amongst the background of the heath and heather.

I wander into my living room and again I look out of the window, this time at the hill that stands on the other side of the river behind my house.

It is also earmarked for a wind farm, this one called “Garvary” which will complete the encirclement of me and my little property from which I will continue to watch the sleeping giants that seldom stir.

When all the hills near me have a wind farm the developers will move on to find another area to develop. I will still be here but life for me will have changed.

No longer will I look out at the beautiful fauna and natural environment of Scotland’s Highlands. Nor will I hear the call of the eagle as it soars majestically overhead or witness the breathtaking flight of the osprey. The winter skeins of migrating geese will be gone, flying home on a different route to avoid the sleeping giants that now stand where they once flew.

Graham Bruce, Culrain, Highland

Nuclear deterrent

It is quite astonishing how naïve, however well-intentioned, people can be. Brian Quail illustrates this amply in his argument (Letters, 12 January) against the UK nuclear deterrent.

Its name should tell anyone who hates nuclear weapons what its purpose is. It is there to deter aggressive, hostile powers. As anyone of a CND inclination knows, the UK has never used its nuclear arsenal, nor has it ever threatened anyone with it. It is there to prevent any power that threatens our freedom and that of our democratic allies being tempted to attack us. As we do not keep enormous standing armies, we need to prevent the sort of things that have happened to Georgia and the Ukraine happening here.

Anyone who has even the slightest interest in world affairs will be aware that Mr Putin's Russia is currently helping the autocratic regime in Kazakhstan prevent being held to account by its people. Russia is also massing 100,000 troops on the borders of the Ukraine, having already taken the Crimea from it.

Without the nuclear arsenals of the UK and France, we too would have faced considerable problems from Russia had Donald Trump been re-elected to the presidency of the USA. He it was who was drawing down US involvement in western Europe. Had that happened, Europe could have ended up under Russia's boot.

If the UK is a pariah state for defending itself, so be it. Better a free pariah than a subject state in which opponents of the regime are liquidated.

Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

Beach blast

Take care going to Coral Beach in Skye (Scotsman, 12 January). It can be very crowded with no parking spaces left, as we experienced last October.

It was almost impossible to turn and we even saw large campervans which were too big for passing places. Farmers had angry signs not to park with them. We did not make it to the beach itself.

Cor Groeneweg, Amstelveen, Netherlands

Contrasting styles

Jose Alberto Mujica Cordono was the president of Uruguay from 2010-2015. He lived a frugal life as president, giving much of his salary to charities which helped the poor. When his term of office was over, he returned to his humble farm and lived a similar lifestyle.

How different from the occupant of 10 Downing Street. His term of office so far has been defined by policies which make poor people even poorer, while doling out contracts and peerages to wealthy chums and party donors. All funded by taxpayers, of course. The whole rotten edifice of this Tory government is poisoned by sleaze, corruption on a grand scale, and a scramble to line pockets.

It is oft quoted that the UK is a democracy – what a preposterous claim! It is possible for a political party to win a UK general election with less than 31 per cent of votes. Even Johnson’s Tories with their 80-seat majority only managed 43.6 per cent in 2019; meaning that 56.4 per cent of voters have no representation in government. So much for the discredited first-past-the-post “winner takes all” voting system. As for that anachronism the House of Lords – don’t get me started!

The UK is one of the very few territories without a written constitution, which means the Westminster government can do more or less as it pleases – and boy, has this Tory government demonstrated just that.

Richard Walthew, Duns, Scottish Borders

Doric Tories

Well done Ruth and Douglas for proving that Doric Tories are a breed apart from the Eton toffs that they rely on to subjugate the natives here (Scotsman, 12 January).

Meanwhile, the Labour branch office, based in Glasgow, assertd itself by espousing the same democracy-denying trope decreed by their London bosses, that any burgeoning new Keir Hardy will not be allowed to stand in Scottish elections, if he or she believes in “home rule” (Scotsman, 11 January), as the opposition leader’s namesake did.

Ian Hiddleston, Dundee

What a show!

How good to see the return of “Partygate” to our screens and radios to brighten these dark January days. How heartwarming to experience the joy of the inmates of the Westminster kindergarten as they roar at each other, faces all aglow with the warmth of self-righteousness. It might make you feel that they, each and every one of them, are worth every penny of the salaries and perquisites they cost us.

And the principal performers are so good. Earlier we had the deputy Labour leader in rip-roar in’, lip-smackin’ form getting tore into them while yesterday Surkeer returned in the role of Divine Correction to see off Soapy Joe Johnson and demand he be cast down into the Pit.I await the next instalment with impatience.

S Beck, Edinburgh

Bigger problems

Many Tory MP's seem to want to see how far they can tough it out over the “Partygate” mishap. Did the PM really lie to parliament? Is that really a dreadful offence? Was it so unforgivable for him to break the Covid laws – if in fact he did attend or authorise such parties? Do Conservative MPs really want to terminate the career of such a great propagandist?

And are we not facing graver concerns right now – such as a huge rise in fuel bills, inflation, possible new Covid variants, and decline in just-in-time trade networks? Does the country need the distraction of a leadership election?

Government ministers have been feckless in trying to make their leader answerable to parliament and the public, and the result is that people will question the whole integrity of the government at every turn.

No minister can get the benefit of the doubt – not even poor Mr Gove – and even when the intention is laudable, cynical views will naturally prevail. So I agree with our sensible Scottish Tory leaders that integrity demands a weeding out of all dishonourable gentlemen, no matter how honourable their titles suggest they are.

Andrew Vass, Edinburgh

Reassess exams

It is more than time to reassess the decades-old practice of national exams in years four, five and six in Scotland.

Many international students applying for places at Scottish universities and colleges come from parts of the world where all exams are school-based.

Why continue to put Scottish pupils through such a rigorous exam diet for limited places at local universities when international applicants, whose school performance cannot be compared, can simply buy a spot?

Helen Donohoe, Ontario, Canada

Stops start

I have a photo on my office wall of Rev Macdonald’s passenger-controlled signal at Borrobol (Letters, 12 January). It led me to think of a modern digital version a few years ago, and so Request to Stop was conceived by the Highland and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS) and has now been adopted by Network Rail for implementation this year

Frank Roach, HITRANS, Lairg, Highland

Time machine

I sincerely hope that Nicola Sturgeon does indeed do “everything in her power” to hold another independence referendum (Scotsman, 11 January).

If she does this with the same blistering expediency and sense of sprightly urgency that her party uses the current powers of the Scottish Parliament, then we can expect it to be held in 2062.

David Bone, Girvan, South Ayrshire

Insulting stance

I really thought Nicola Sturgeon would try harder to disguise the fact that a second independence referendum is her only real priority for Scotland.

Our NHS workers, teachers, social workers, business owners, etc, who help form the backbone of our society, are once again shown as unimportant in comparison to a second referendum.

This insult whilst they battle to do their best with a long -term education decline, the world’s worst drug and homeless issues and then employers trying to maintain the livelihoods of their employees in the face of the pandemic is simply horrendous.

Timothy Flett, Perth, Perth and Kinross

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