LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
SHOOTING A SHOT IN THE ECONOMIC ARM
With the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ just two days away, it is predictable that anti-shooting extremists have stepped up their campaign of myths and propaganda.
But they are not being honest with the public; they are slinging mud in the hope some sticks and ignoring sound evidence.
The truth is that managing our uplands for shooting has benefits for conservation, preserves marginal upland communities and puts healthy, nutritious food into the market.
Grouse shooting is worth an estimated £100m to the economy each year and supports more than 2,500 full-time jobs. In turn, grouse shooting benefits pubs, hotels and other local retail outlets. In the uplands, this can mean the difference in viability for fragile rural communities.
Heather moorland is an internationally-important habitat and 75% of it is found in the UK. This habitat is uniquely precious, with 90% of grouse moors located in national parks or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Gamekeepers create outstanding habitat for many rare and endangered birds – such as lapwings – which is why the majority of grouse moors are internationally-protected habitats, rarer than rainforest. Without shooting, they would not exist.
While August 12 is the iconic first day of the season, it is obvious that the benefits of grouse shooting are present all-year around.
(chairman, British Association for Shooting and Conservation)
TORIES PUTTING PEACE AT RISK
It is disappointing, but not entirely unexpected, that Paul Singleton (“Fearing IRA retaliation”, August 3) declines my invitation to respond to questions posed in your July 27 edition.
For some reason, he chooses instead to raise an issue from more than 40 years ago.
Violent acts committed by the IRA, DUP supporters, or indeed the British Army, can not be condoned in any way. A relatively fragile peace has endured in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement and power sharing was introduced, and the UK Government has a moral duty to be seen to remain completely impartial and neutral on Irish politics.
After the dodgy deal (and that £1bn bribe) with the DUP, in order to cling onto power, and its attitude to Brexit and an Irish border, without listening to all parties involved, the divisive, weak and wobbly government at Westminster is in danger of putting this delicate peace at risk.
Michael Gove recently declared that Denmark (and other European countries)will continue to have access to Scotland’s fishing waters after Brexit, without any consultation with the Scottish Government (despite fishing being a devolved matter ). This is only the latest in a long line of examples by an arrogant, but desperate Tory government disregarding Scotland’s views in an attempt to hold its divided party together. Scottish fishermen have been betrayed.
Independence is the best way to ensure that all decisions about Scotland’s future are taken by people with the interests of Scotland at heart.
These matters raise serious doubts about the Tories’ ability to govern the UK fairly for the benefit of all its citizens, and are more of a threat to peace and stability than any events from the past.
Here’s a thought – maybe England should become independent, govern itself, go its own way, and the rest of us can do the same.
Finally, I am pleasantly surprised that Mr Singleton, on this occasion, was able to refrain from blaming the Scottish Government for anything – a first for him – but I won’t hold my breath.
A BRIGHT FUTURE ON THE ROAD AHEAD
Clark Cross, in his contribution to the struggle to determine the future survival of the Earth’s biosphere, wrote: “Politicians listen to the green brigade, when they should be listening to engineers and scientists” (letters, August 3).
As a born-and-bred member of the green brigade, I felt a duty to respond.
Mr Cross correctly pointed out the obvious fact that the universal introduction of electric vehicles will result in the loss of existing taxes on fossil fuels. He provided the (equally obvious) answer by suggesting a tax on road usage. By 2040, all cars will be driver-less and their movement tracked. Tax by mileage, monitored by satellite and computer, will be the norm.
At present we are effectively taxed by mileage through fuel taxes – in future we will be taxed by actual mileage.
As for “engineers and scientists”, they managed to transition us from horse to steam and internal combustion, so they should have no problem with fossil fuel to sustainable electricity – younger engineers and scientists, on the whole, seem less sceptical about climate change (and more so about Brexit) than their seniors, so I’ve been told.
By 2040, both battery and photo-voltaic technologies will have advanced, along with the efficiency of electric engines. It is likely that the national vehicle fleet will be “painted” with a photo-voltaic surface – 20 million solar panels combined with an equal number of efficient batteries, collecting and storing solar energy throughout the day, should obviate the need for a large number of extra wind turbines.
And what an opportunity for Scotland to supply sustainable power, from wind and water, to English cars.
By 2050, motorists, from Lima to London, Los Angeles to Linlithgow, will plug in and wonder, if they give it a second thought, did people really used to pour petrol into a tank, burn it and exhaust the emissions into the very air their children breathed?
When Clark next writes on this subject (night does follow day, after all) I hope he finds himself in a more thoughtful and reflective mood than his default combative and, dare I say it, cross, mode.
I assume he is not a great fan of recycling, but I will end with a recycled and amended slogan: The future’s not bright if the future’s not green.
MARIE CURIE COLLECTIONS
As the recently-appointed Marie Curie collections co-ordinator for the area, I would like to thank the Berwickshire people who contributed so generously to the house-to-house collections held in June and July.
There were collections in Gavinton, Greenlaw, Cockburnspath, St Abbs and Coldingham; which, with other donations, raised £1,240.74. The individual collections raised the following sums: Gavinton £110.10; Greenlaw £255.62; Cockburnspath £106.74; St Abbs £105.56 and Coldingham £639.06.
Certificates recording the amount raised in each community have been sent to the volunteers who collected, who will arrange that they are displayed prominently in the localities.
Marie Curie nursing costs £20 per hour and is focused on allowing people with a terminal illness to spend what time they have left in their own home, surrounded by family and friends. The service is free to those who require it.
In the financial year 2016-17, the income from static collection boxes in east Berwickshire was over £1,000.
EYEMOUTH DARTS COMPETITION
May I thank everyone for attending the Eyemouth Herring Queen Open Darts Competition on July 25 at The Tavern, for raffle prizes and for donations.
The total raised was £191.
Thanks to Tavern for hospitality.
The darts winners were Steven Hood and Peter Craig, with Jamie Aitchison and Paul Black runners-up.
CHOOSING THE UK OVER THE EU
In the aftermath of any election, opposing sides like to try to interpret the result in their favour, even if some have seen their share of the vote and numbers of seats won fall significantly.
The report of post-general election analysis by the University of Manchester is revealing, not only for what it says about how previous Yes-voting supporters were more inclined to abandon the SNP if they also favoured Brexit. It also points to how people might split if First Minister Nicola Sturgeon decides to risk calling a second independence referendum before the next Holyrood elections in 2021.
The research found that four out of 10 voters who chose the SNP in 2015, but also voted for Brexit, then went on to vote for other parties in the 2017 snap general election. This contrasted with nine out of 10 previous SNP supporters remaining loyal to them when they had voted to remain in the EU.
Yet since June of last year, the First Minister has assumed that collectively Scotland will feel sufficiently strongly about not wanting to leave the EU, that they would be prepared to leave the UK to try to achieve that.
The outcome in the general election suggests that of the balance of previous No and Yes voters prepared to change their mind, more will choose the UK over the EU, if that is the stark choice they are given.
The SNP might hope to stir sufficient grievance over the course of the Brexit negotiations to reverse this position, but as yet for the SNP, the ‘EU at any cost’ tactic appears likely to lose it more supporters than it will gain.
CROSSING SWORDS OVER OPENING
Dyed-in-the-wool nationalists are airing their republican sympathies online by demanding “Queen Nicola” (I jest not) should open the new Forth crossing, not the Queen (Elizabeth, that is).
That the Queen is head of state and that she will perform the Queenferry Crossing opening ceremony 53 years to the day since she opened the Forth Road Bridge count for little. If you’re a passionate separatist, your focus is division, as represented by the SNP and its leader, Nicola Sturgeon, not continuity and heritage.
The majority in Scotland are more circumspect: Ms Sturgeon’s personal popularity has nose-dived on the back of her UK break-up obsession, combined with the SNP’s lacklustre management of Scotland’s public services.
END OF THE GREEN DREAM
The Digest of UK Energy Statistics covering 2016 has just been released – and it’s been a poor year for renewables.
Wind generation fell by 7.3%, even though the number of wind turbines rose by 13%. Hydro generation fell by 14%, even though the number of small hydro schemes rose by 20%. Solar in the UK is a joke because while it theoretically had 33% of total renewable capacity, it generated just 12%. Wave power generated nothing after tens of millions of public money has been wasted on it.
Luckily, gas power rose from 29% of total generation to 42% to fill any gap.
The green dream of falling electrical demand due to “efficiency” has come to a halt and indeed has been in reverse for two years running.
This all proves that renewables can’t be relied on.
CHALLENGES FACED BY CARERS
There are 6.8 million carers in the UK, and every day another 6,000 people take on a caring responsibility.
Unpaid carers face huge challenges, providing care for disabled or older loved ones. For instance, according to our own research, a third of carers have never had any significant time off since they started.
I work for charity Revitalise, providing respite holidays for disabled people and carers at three UK centres, and we’re appealing on Radio 4 for more support for the nation’s unsung army of carers.
The appeal will be presented by writer and comedian Arthur Smith, a vice-president of Revitalise. He talks about his own experience as a carer for his mother, Hazel, then goes on tell the story of Mavis and Colin, who benefitted from a respite break with Revitalise, which helped sustain their relationship.
Mavis and Colin have been married for 56 years. When Mavis developed MS in her 20s, Colin gave up work to care for her, but was himself diagnosed with dementia in 2002 and Mavis is now his carer.
We want to help thousands more couples, but to do so we need your help. The appeal will be broadcast on August 13 at 7.55am and 9.26pm, then repeated on August 17 at 3.27pm.
To find out more about our appeal, www.revitalise.org.uk.