Sir, – I note with interest that the Scottish Greens are focusing on the environment when naming the price of their support to the SNP, regarding the imminent Scottish Government budget.
We all need to heed the science around the need to reduce our CO2 emissions, and we should all be aware that in Scotland CO2 emissions from transport are increasing, and are the largest contributor to greenhouse gases.
The planned major road building program in Scotland has a combined cost of around £6.5 billion – dualling the A9 and A96 at £3 billion each, plus the Cross Tay Link Road and two roundabouts at Longmans and Sheriffhall.
This £6.5 billion is a lot of money, but unfortunately, that’s not the final cost.
Scientific reports on weather conditions in 2050 – hot temperatures, droughts, flash floods, stronger winds as well as rising sea levels – tell us that Scotland will have to spend much, much more than that in the near future.
This additional future spend is to protect our current infrastructure, to mitigate against the rising CO2 emissions, in part created by the extra traffic on these new roads.
Those infrastructure preparations need to start now; they cannot wait until 2050 when it will be too late.
To delay these provisions just does not make any environmental or economic sense.
Why should we pay twice over – once to cause the environmental damage and then again to repair the damage we have just caused to the planet?
The current government proposal to build yet more roads to cure congestion is the exact equivalent of the NHS recommending buying the next clothing size up as a cure for obesity.
We have set ambitious CO2 reduction targets, we have declared a climate emergency, so please let us have a transport plan that delivers these critical targets.
I truly hope all political parties, not just the Greens, treat this issue with the urgency it deserves.
This double whammy of waste needs to be avoided right now.
56 Grove Road,
‘Feart’ retirees who vote no
Sir, – The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently published a graph showing the value of retirement pensions for their 35 members plus some others.
Out of the list of 51 countries, the UK came in 50th position.
UK pensioners receive just 29% of a working wage when they retire, compared with an OECD average of 63% and an EU average of 71%.
So much for Westminster’s record of fiscal competence.
Despite this, in the latest YouGov poll that showed 51% of Scottish voters in favour of independence, a breakdown of the figures shows that the voters over 65 years of age are far and away more likely to vote to remain in the union with England.
I fail to understand this attitude – have they no children and grand-children to consider?
Are they so feart and attached to the status quo that they haven’t the backbone to try and improve their, and their children’s lot?
I’m well over retirement age but would never think twice about taking the opportunity to improve my and my adopted country’s situation.
A right-wing Westminster government is never going to have Scotland’s best interests at heart.
At best, we are just a cash cow to help pay the enormous UK National Debt interest charges, currently at £100,000 per minute.
Independence is the natural state of a country, so let’s grasp this coming opportunity with both hands.
29 Attadale Road,
Measure twice, cut once
Sir, – Measure twice, cut once.
This is a principle I was taught in secondary education – it agreeably applies to practical subjects, but it also has a wider bearing when making other decisions.
On February 4 2020 the Scottish Parliament will finally debate the Non Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill, which includes a consideration to remove rates relief from all independent schools in Scotland, with the exception of special schools and specialist music schools.
Has the Scottish Parliament seriously considered the implication of burdening these valuable independent schools with additional charges?
Having been involved with one such independent school for at least 15 years, these schools typically achieve higher academic results and often produce tomorrow’s leaders in commerce, science and government.
How many independent schools would be forced to close, or how many families would be unable to sustain the increased fees?
What would be the added burden and disruption on the state education system from the influx of additional pupils should these schools, and/or the families that use independent schools be pressurised to change, for example in Perthshire, where resources are already stretched?
Has the Scottish Government only looked at an increased revenue stream and not considered the wider implications for the long term – i.e. have they checked their measurements before they cut?
John D Wilkin.
89 Sauchenbush Road,
Bad motives for schools rates Bill
Sir, – The Non Domestic Rates (Scotland) Bill passing through the Scottish Parliament is:
Educationally discriminatory. Why select specialist music schools for continued relief ? Music is an admirable talent, but only one of many areas of excellence in Scotland’s private schools.
Socially discriminatory. Why select charity-funded schools for this harsh treatment out of the thousands of Scottish charities whose entitlement to non-domestic rates relief helps their charitable objectives ?
Economically ill-conceived. How many small private schools, receiving no state funding but relying on fees and donations, will be forced to close, leading to more pressure on the state school system?
Politically motivated. To appease the popular clamour for so-called social equality. It is high time for moral and ethical integrity to become a fundamental ingredient in Scottish legislation, instead of vote-catching popularism.
Bernard M Lindberg.
12 Cutstraw Road,
COP26 and expectations
Sir, – Boris Johnson’s decision to replace Claire O’Neill as president of this year’s UN Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow is for the best.
The former minister was too close to the Extinction rebels, the lunatic fringe of the Green movement intent on turning COP26 into an embarrassment for the UK Government.
With the deadlock in international climate negotiations since Paris, environmentalists are well aware COP26 is likely to implode and the Thunberg-Attenborough-Sturgeon troupe could turn the conference into a ‘Bash-Boris’ farce.
The Tories need to manage expectations carefully.
Dr John Cameron.
10 Howard Place,