Sir, – Your article in today’s Courier (December 6) concerning smoking in cars has angered me, as I consider it an infringement of my human rights, and question where the statistics came from.
Firstly, in this day and age, no one in their right mind would smoke in a vehicle when a young child was on board. Secondly, most of us who smoke while driving do so with a window open.
With the movement of the vehicle, it creates a vacuum that draws the smoke from the cabin.
I could write at some length about our family, all smokers or ex-smokers and driving.
However, as a long- distance driver, I can state that smoking helps me and many others concentrate on the road ahead and, on long, monotonous motorway journeys, helped keep us from falling asleep.
You may be interested to read up the rules on lorry drivers and smoking – they are farcical, to say the least.
This appears to be yet another move from the woolly hat brigade who have stealthily got their way, unabated, during the last few years.
How life has changed since my youth.
Things that have happened to me, in this modern world, during the past year or so, have almost made me glad I’m 73 and not 37.
No evidence of deliberate release
Sir, – To the best of my knowledge, there is no evidence of deliberate release of imported beavers in Tayside.
I have been aware of the presence of beavers for some years now and particularly those associated with the Kerbet and Dean.
I visited the licensed beaver introductions at Bamff (near Alyth) a number of years before there were reports of wild animals, and Paul Ramsay was very concerned to keep them enclosed on his land.
The same applied to the boar he keeps on his estate.
The electric and conventional fences were in good condition and he made every attempt to keep the beavers (and boar) confined in accordance with the licenses he has to keep them.
When it became apparent that there were wild beavers in the Dean Water at Glamis, he was apparently asked how they got there and he was quite open that a spate had washed out the fences of one of his enclosures.
I do not know if he had already reported this or not.
From the general distribution and numbers of wild beavers in the Tay Basin, it is apparent that the release probably took place long before his own escapees and there has always been a rumour that there were other licensed owners in the area, though I never heard who these were.
Presumably Scottish National Heritage (SNH) knew to whom these licenses were issued and would have interviewed those license holders as well.
So if they investigated them, they should have known if these escapes were probably deliberate and therefore illegal.
No word of this matter has ever been released publicly, as far as I know, and that issue needs clarifying before allegations of illegal releases are levelled by some of those antagonistic to the legal protection of the Tayside population.
There needs to be some clarity, from SNH or Roseanna Cunningham, to prevent misinformation being spread through the media and the situation becoming confusing.
Personally, I believe there is a place for wild beavers in Scotland, but it should have been achieved in a more ordered manner, so that their spread is controlled and thus causes the minimum of damage and conflict with human interests.
Tayside is probably not the best place to have done this, as it is inevitable that it would upset the land lobby and that is not good for either the beavers or the farming and forestry lobby.
In my opinion, Jim Crumley hit it on the head when he suggested the Insch marshes, though I do not have a grasp of the actual restraints that may pertain there; it just seems a natural habitat for the beavers.
There are, of course, many other natural wetland habitats in Scotland and, if these can be sealed off so the beavers cannot spread to more sensitive areas in the distal drainage of the water courses, where farming, forestry and other concerns are inevitable, then there is a better case for encouraging the reintroduction of the species.
I would suggest that the media and those with a grievance pressurise the minister and SNH for more information, before this becomes a deep-seated grievance in the rural population.
Let us debate the matter when in the possession of good information, rather than have the over-polarised combatants snipe at each other with very few relevant facts.
Dr David Walsh.
11 The Cairns,
Government must take blame
Sir, – You are quite correct in your editorial (December 7) that the problems with our education system extend back beyond the current administration, and arguably before devolution started.
However, we have to deal with the problem now.
The Scottish Government are fully responsible for policy, funding and delivery of educational targets, and the current administration have had responsibility for 10 years.
We must maintain a spotlight on them so that they can be made to deliver, and opposition parties must be allowed their right to scrutinise as appropriate.
That nice Mr Swinney has had full control of the purse strings for nine years, is currently Deputy First Minister, and has had every opportunity at the highest level of government to make this a priority well before now.
When I came to Scotland 30 years ago, we had an education system that was world class.
Now even the English are ahead of us.
Education has gone wrong under devolution, and is continuing to go wrong.
If we want to halt the slide, then we should not be quite so charitable towards those who hold full responsibility.
Secularists want to become God
Sir, – Malcolm Burley (Letters, December 6) is right to say that the Free Church supports the separation of church and state, in that we recognise they both have different functions.
However, he misunderstands the purpose of the various militant secularist societies that are interested in far more than constitutional questions.
The trouble is that there are various meanings of the word secular.
The secular societies use it in terms of its original meaning, “without God”.
They are determined that all religion be removed from the public square and be reduced to the status of private belief that has no relevance or meaning in public policy.
This is why they campaign against religious influence in schools, universities, politics and the health service.
They claim to be neutral, but in reality they argue for discrimination in the public square against any group that does not share their narrow philosophy.
The secularists insist on minute control of our lives that they even want to be able to dictate what messages we can bake on cakes.
The trouble is not about the separation of church and state, it is rather about the secular state stepping beyond its bounds and seeking to become God.
David A Robertson.
St Peters Free Church,
4 St Peter St,
Consumerism gone mad
Sir, – I recently drove into Dundee to have my eyes tested only to drive home again and get a lift in because there were no readily available parking spaces.
The centre of Dundee had gone crazy.
It made me think about Christmas and Christianity and its meaning.
I do believe the most important date on the Christian calendar has to be Easter and recognition of the Atonement.
We celebrate this time, usually in the Spring, with the swapping of Easter eggs, a lovely church service, children rolling eggs, and maybe a family picnic or dinner, and, for some, a family holiday.
The roads can be busier and a bit manic down south, but on the whole it is a rather beautiful time.
So can someone tell me how Christmas became such an abhorrent time of overspending, over eating, stress.
A time that exacerbates loneliness and poverty and loss.
It is consumerism gone mad, with retail staff working all the hours only to have to return to more madness as early as Boxing Day and again in the New Year.
This year I intend to make it a celebration of family, health and wellbeing, without being led by the nose by the hysteria that surrounds us.
12 Invergowrie Drive,