Your picture of the Week

Old Thirlstane Castle by Lauder  highlighted by the strong afternoon sunlight.
Old Thirlstane Castle by Lauder highlighted by the strong afternoon sunlight.

Old Thirlstane Castle, near Lauder, is highlighted by strong afternoon sunlight in this Curtis Welsh photograph. Please email pictures, with a brief caption, to berwickshirenews@jpress.co.uk

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

YES INCREASINGLY ATTRACTIVE

Where independence is concerned, Scottish voters seem to occupy three distinctive groups.

About 30% are avowed Unionists who will never vote for a self-sufficient Scotland, no matter how convincing evidence of the wealthy country it would be. That is their democratic choice.

The second group are the people who have placed hope above fear, have studied the assets Scotland has which will ensure a prosperous future in an independent country. Currently this is said to be around 45% of voters, but could now be higher.

So what of the remaining 25%?

I believe these are the pragmatists who in 2014 voted No or not at all, but their number is diminishing.

After it was obvious that “The Vow” was never going to be delivered, along with the exposure of many lies, and the arrogance of “English Votes for English Laws” in the parliament of the UK, the resolve of many No voters was shattered by disillusion.

The final straw for others was the vote to leave the EU, after we had specifically been promised that Scotland could only remain a member if we voted No.

Another handicap Scottish voters suffer from is the UK voting system which creates a democratic deficit in Scotland, and indeed beyond.

As evidence piles up from both sides of the Atlantic of even harder times ahead, more and more people are turning to the Scottish Parliament for stability and protection – even in the Borders.

More and more people are joining Yes groups, and who would have thought just a few years ago that we would be represented in Westminster by an SNP MP?

I’m sure most of your readers are open-minded, so if anyone would like to find out more about the independence movement, they can go to Yes Scottish Borders on Facebook. I know that not everyone has access to the internet, but I’m sure a library would help. Alternatively, find out about the local Yes group – whatever your political persuasion, you will be made welcome.

Richard Walthew

Whitsome Crofts

Duns

PROTECTING RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS

The Supreme Court ruling that the Westminster parliament is the only body that has the right to trigger Article 50 does not overturn the referendum vote to leave the EU.

The key ruling was that only parliament has the power to take away British citizens’ rights.

Far from interfering, as bizarrely claimed by Ian Duncan Smith, the Supreme Court has upheld our constitution by ensuring that it is our elected parliament that takes responsibility for implementing the referendum decision.

What is now at issue are our rights and freedoms, not Brexit.

We are to be stripped of our freedom to work, live and retire in the EU, and British businesses are to lose the right to export goods and services to the EU free of trade barriers. Such a dramatic loss of personal freedom cannot be delivered behind closed doors – it has to be debated openly and justified.

People voted to leave the European Union – not to lose their rights.

We are entitled to demand that our MPs ensure that the Tory government does not take away our freedom to travel, or repeal our right to consumer protection and product safety, or remove our employment rights, or to undermine our economy.

None of those questions were on the referendum ballot paper.

Eric Goodyer

Church Street

Berwick

A QUESTION OF TRUST, RUTH

Can anyone trust a word Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson says these days?

Before the vote on independence, she promised that voting “No means we stay in” the European Union.

Well, that’s patently not true anymore.

Before the vote on EU membership, she claimed the case for Brexit was based on “lies”; that it was based on “fantasy economics” and families “couldn’t afford” it; and that thousands of Scottish jobs were “reliant on the exports we sell within the EU”.

Now she says it is an “opportunity”.

I’d understand if she said we would have to make the best of a bad decision, but to now claim that something that was “lies” is an “opportunity” is beyond credible.

Then after the Brexit vote she said she wanted the UK to stay in the European single market – even if it meant having to accept free movement. Now she supports not being in that single market.

With local authority elections approaching, she is attacking council tax changes she claimed only last year were her party’s policy.

Not even unionists can trust her. She was elected with the promise that the Tories would “oppose any attempt” for a second independence referendum. But by July she was saying any second referendum “should not be blocked”.

With such wildly-changing views and breaches of promise, can anyone trust their vote to a party led by someone who will just change their position once elected? It’s like they arrogantly think they can say anything to the people of Scotland and the people of Scotland will just accept it.

Andrew Stuart

Glasgow

FEARS RAISED OVER DEVELOPMENT

Proposals for the housing development at Beveridge Row, known locally as Jackman’s Folly, have now been ongoing for almost five years.

It is nearly four years since the public inquiry, at which I represented Dunbar Community Council, and over three years since reporter Dan Jackman found in favour of developers Hallam Land Management and granted outline permission for 90 houses on appeal on the grounds of non-determination by East Lothian Council planners.

Hallam Land Management suggested it could quickly develop the land to help East Lothian meet Scottish Government housing requirements. That has not happened.

Cala have now submitted an application for detailed consent which will be discussed by the planning committee on Tuesday, February 7.

The application brings forward major issues that Mr Jackman left hanging.

The site is prone to pluvial (surface water) flooding and is at risk of fluvial and coastal flooding which will impact on insurance for house owners. He presumed any detailed application would consider a full flood impact assessment and that the developer may decide the land was not economically viable to develop, or less homes would be possible.

However. the Cala application form stated that the land was not known to flood and that a flood impact assessment was not necessary.

Some large houses on the plan are sited on land known to flood.

There are also transportation issues as Beveridge Row/Hospital Road is not fit for large scale use. Mr Jackman had concerns, but did not think it would be widely used. Since outline permission was granted, the west end of Brodie Road has opened up and this area is under extreme pressure. The new development would add to this.

Although outline permission has been given, East Lothian planning committee has to consider the detailed planning consent. Councillors must consider if the development is appropriate to the area and the site. They can reject an inappropriate suggestion for the site.

There are issues about the number of houses, drainage problems, and sewerage, transport, education and health infrastructure. Affordable housing is in a zone, rather than dispersed among the development, as well as loss of agricultural land, and loss of habitat for bats, hares and scarce birds such as yellow wagtails. In addition, housing here will mean the joining up of the communities of West Barns and Belhaven. Coalescence is an area of great concern in local planning development.

When this application began in 2012, I was the sole female member of East Lothian planning committee. I would have rejected it. I urge the all-male members of the planning committee to reject it now. To agree it may create precedence for the applications that are already being submitted outwith the new Local Plan. East Lothian could be seen as a soft touch and what use is a Local Plan if it is not adhered to.

This site is controversial in Scotland as it shows the democratic deficit within planning where the view of one reporter can override the views of the community – as shown by the appeal decision in 2013.

If councillors reject the application, Cala can appeal. However, if it is given the go-ahead, local people have no right of appeal, except on a point of law. This application will have a long-term effect on the communities of Belhaven and West Barns. West Barns, in particular, will find itself joined on to the increasing housing development of Dunbar.

With an election coming up, the people of Belhaven and West Barns will be aware of who speaks up for them regarding this planning application.

Jacquie Bell

Belhaven

Dunbar

DIFFERENT SPECIES OF ELECTRIC ENERGY

You may have some sway in highlighting the correct technical difference when discussing the outputs in megawatts of synchronous alternators, which are mainly steam and hydro units, and asynchronous harmonic motors used on wind farms.

They are two completely different species of electric energy connected into the system.

Steam and hydro units produce only the standard required 50/60 cycles per second power, while wind farms can only ever produce distorted harmonic power called dirty power, or THD (This Dirty Power). It is completely useless for use by any consumer’s 50/60 Hz appliance.

So when any reference is made in “megawatts”, it should be scripted as “standard”, while any other should be scripted as “harmonics”.

Therefore they should never be on the same graph – one is not comparing apples with apples.

Not adhering to this principle for clarity purposes will continue the largest, widest conspiracy of scam, fraud and corruption which has swept the world for the last 30 years.

Bill Harding

(power system diagnostic

electrical engineer)

New Zealand

TARGETING FARMS ISN’T THE ANSWER

A 9,900% rise in seal pups born at Blakeny Point, Norfolk, this year compared with 2001.

Up the coast at the Farne Islands, they have counted 2,295 new pups, nearly the same number as at Blakeney Point.

Knowledgeable people writing in this newspaper suggest the seals may be eating salmon. Well, the numbers certainly show that salmon disappear as seals increase.

I think the Tweed River Comminissioners would be better employed checking if this is correct, rather than banning farmers from allowing their cattle to drink in the Tweed and its tributaries.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency is currently inspecting all farms in the Tweed catchment area, the agricultural college is promising solar-powered drinking troughs and the government is threatening fines for allowing livestock into the rivers.

This is yet another attack on a long-established rural practice.

Meanwhile, find a way to reduce pup numbers to 25, which is the number counted at Blakeney Point in 2001 and, if similar, the Farne Islands would be 25 too, but they were not counted.

Advice on how to mend frozen water pumps while 50 cows play football with the empty trough would also be welcome!

Miles Browne

Gordon

GREENHOUSE GAS ATTACK IS HOT AIR

Yet again we have allegations that the previous year was the hottest on record.

Greenhouse gas levels may play some part in global temperatures, but there’s strong evidence that many other forces play their part too.

Plate tectonics, ocean circulations and oscillations, changes in the Earth’s orbit, including perihelion, changes in the planet’s angle of tilt, interplanetary dust, changes in the amount of energy emitted by the sun, sunspot activity, global tidal forces and other lunar activity, cloud cover, volcanic activity, the natural carbon cycle, albedo feedback and global urbanisation, to name the main ones. Any of these can have warming or cooling influences.

When a large number give warming influences at the same time, it can result in global warming. Conversely, when a large number give cooling influences at the same time it can result in ice ages. I do not accept the claim made by some people that 90% of the warming is due to greenhouse gases.

Geoff Moore

Alness