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READERS’ LETTERS: Angus solar farm plans are rural vandalism on an unprecedented scale

Plans for a massive solar farm in the Angus countryside have been rejected by councillors - for now. Photo: Shutterstock.
Plans for a massive solar farm in the Angus countryside have been rejected by councillors - for now. Photo: Shutterstock.

Sir, – When I read your article on the Berryhill Farm solar development I was somewhat surprised that you treated the proposal as merely a local issue.

In my view, a 300-acre industrial development in the countryside is of national significance and should be dealt with at the national level.

Most people are in favour of renewables, and Scotland has a significant contribution to make in harnessing wind and wave but we are particularly weak in the area of solar energy.

On a commercial basis the only way to make solar work in Scotland is to have developments at real scale. Such developments require large amounts of land, and in the case of Angus this means consuming large quantities of good-quality agriculture land.

In Scotland we have never had a development of this scale in the solar space.

We do not have a complete understanding of the likely impacts of such a large solar development, and I find it breathtaking that the planners in Angus did not consider it necessary to carry out a full impact study, preferring instead to cross their collective fingers and hope for the best.

Then there is the question of precedent.

If this application is approved there will be no justifiable case to stop the next 300-acre development in Angus, or even the next development.

As the Angus planners do not understand the full impacts of the proposed development, there is a real danger that we could be witnessing an act of rural vandalism on a scale that has not been seen before in Scotland.

Howard Moody. Kinnear Road, Edinburgh.

Extinction Rebellion tactics amount to terrorism

Sir, – Extinction Rebellion plan to block oil refineries, close and vandalise petrol stations and block roads in March.

Their new organisation “Just Stop Oil” is a challenge to our way of life. These eco-terrorists demand that all oil production must end immediately.

What does this mean? No diesel oil for the lorries that work day and night stocking our supermarkets, for the container ships that bring goods from far and wide, for the cement mixers on which building sites depend, or for the ambulances, fire engines, and police cars of the emergency services. Without gearbox oil every wind machine and battery-driven car would seize up. Without oil we couldn’t manufacture plastic. Plastic for spectacle lenses and frames, plastic for PPE, plastic to manufacture computers, televisions and phones.

Extinction Rebellion derives from Rising Up, the campaign arm of Compassionate Revolution Ltd, originating in the anti-capitalist Occupy movement. Its aim is to undermine law and order and ultimately to bring down the democratic institutions of the country and replace them with a non-elected citizens’ assembly. The leader of XR has spoken about “activists dying for their cause”.  Concern about the climate is only a means to an end. Their end is the destruction of modern society.

Extinction Rebellion is all about system change, not climate change.

It’s time for the government to brand Extinction Rebellion a terrorist organisation.

William Loneskie. Justice Park, Oxton.

Hydro electric rise in prices a mystery

Sir, – Why has the price of wind and water gone up so much?

As an SSE-Hydro Electric customer for more than 30 years, why am I facing a 50% increase in my bill?

Ten years ago I attended an SSE open meeting about a wind farm due to be built near me. The SSE officer at the meeting told me that the North of Scotland Hydro Electricity area is 90% renewable but, as the dams were built before 2000, the EEC did not include these in their renewal figures.

Could we in the North of Scotland electric area go back to pre-2000 prices, as my information is that wind and water prices have not gone up.

Bernard Noonan. Reed Lagan Dhu, Bridge of Cally.

Scrap green levies on our energy bills

Sir, – Instead of tackling our soaring costs of energy with state-backed loans – which simply get families deeper into debt – why don’t we follow the example of Germany which is about to scrap green levies on energy bills.

Its coalition government, which includes the Green Party, was to abolish the renewable energy surcharge on electricity bills next year but will now cut green levies earlier to ease the strain of rising household energy costs.

Direct subsidies for our lucky renewable energy investors (feed-in tariffs, renewables obligation, contracts for difference systems, etc) are £10 billion a year with a further £2bn due from the high system costs renewables bring to the grid.

Cutting green levies from energy bills will allow the Treasury to buy back subsidy entitlements at a discount and to finally cease the nonsense of providing green energy subsidies in any form.

Dr John Cameron. Howard Place, St Andrews.

Reneging on pension pay-outs an act of gross contempt

Sir, – Many hard-working Scots have paid into the state pension scheme over their working lives.

It’s disappointing to learn that, according to Jill Stephenson (letters, February 4), she thinks a future British government would renege on paying out pensions to the very people who had made contributions to the scheme.

The UK already pays one of the least generous state pensions when compared with our EU friends.

In addition, the Waspi women know only too well that the UK is prepared to con women out of their full pension benefit and deny them the pension they were due when they reached pensionable age.

So while the UK has previous on poor pension provision, it would be an act of gross contempt if the UK did not pay out pensions to those Scots tax-payers who had made contributions to the UK scheme in good faith.

Perhaps one of the reasons people in Scotland want independence is to leave behind a British regime that has lost its moral compass and is prepared to treat its citizens in such an arrogant and uncaring manner?

Douglas Chapman, MP for Dunfermline and West Fife.

UK pensions paid to Scots as rules state

Sir, – Jill Stephenson (letters, February 4) discusses issues around the question of who pays for pensions?

However, she doesn’t fully understand the position. While correctly stating that pensions are paid out of current income tax and national insurance, those earned in the UK are paid according to UK rules anywhere in the world the recipients reside.

These will continue as they do for people living in Spain, Cyprus or wherever. That is part of the contractual obligation we make under the national insurance rules.

Future pensions earned in an independent Scotland would be paid for through whatever system we would put in place at that time. Current ongoing pensions will continue as they are. An independent Scotland would divide its budget according to our own priorities and not anybody else’s.

Unfortunately Ms Stephenson falls into the trap of assuming that state pensions earned under UK rules would cease, and Scotland would cease to have tax revenue.

While, nominally, Holyrood at present has little tax-raising powers, in an independent future we would not have to wait for a proportion of our taxes to be returned under a block grant. We would have all that revenue available to us.

Why does she think that if independent we would not pay tax? Private pensions would also continue under the rules of those schemes.

Nick Cole. Balmacron Farmhouse, Meigle.

Do SNP take their people for mugs?

Sir, – Nicola Sturgeon’s implausible claim that Westminster would still pay Scottish pensions after independence is vastly more important than Boris Johnson’s dubious excuses over Downing Street parties.

In 2014, the then UK pension minister, Steve Webb, made clear that it would be for an independent Scottish government to pay its own state pensions. In Britain these are paid out of general taxation rather than any separate fund, so this statement accords with economic reality.

The absurd alternative would be that English people were taxed to pay the pensions of people in a separate country.

The cold reality is that on losing English subsidies, the tax base in Scotland would not be sufficient to support pensions and other public spending at current levels.

This raises the question: Who does Nicola take for mugs – the English taxpayers, Scottish voters or just SNP supporters?

Otto Inglis. Ansonhill, Crossgates.

‘Flying a kite’ causes OAPs fear and alarm

Sir, – Jill Stephenson is spreading fear and alarm again and deliberately so (letters, February 4) when she makes her remarks about UK pension payments, simply trying to worry the current and future pensioner readers in Scotland.

The readership will know that they have paid money into the UK Government HMRC-DWP over the years of their working life and, as such, are entitled to receive the benefits from these contributions, otherwise a theft would be committed.

These contributions entitle the person to a pension payment, when the time comes.

Is she in fact saying that at the point of separation, she has insider information on the UK Government strategy? I doubt that very much.

She is flying a kite which was last tried just prior to the 2014 referendum – that caused a lot of angst among senior citizens.

So, fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

I know that this UK Government is reckless and haphazard, as we can all see, but to renege on pension contributions is outwith even their abnormally poor standards.

When Scotland departs from the UK there will be negotiations to settle up all of the bills.

The alleged Scottish deficit and, of course, the Scottish pensions burden owned by HMRC-DWP requiring payment, are just two of the big items. Others will include Scotland’s share of military personnel and hardware.

It may result in Scotland getting all of the money to cover the most likely future pension costs, and the source of the pension payments moving from the UK to the Scottish Finance Department.

As the Scottish Government is committed to taking the state pension from the bottom of the EU pensions league to somewhere near the middle, this should not create a panic.

Alistair Ballantyne. Birkhill, Angus.

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