Field sports vital to Scotland’s economy

Recently-hatched sea eagle chicks near Loch Arkaig.

Sir, – I read Jim Crumley’s column (August 15) with a mounting sense of incredulity.

How can an author speak of ‘informed debate’ and then demonstrate that he is totally ill informed.

He claims damage caused by sea eagles is a myth.

Perhaps he would care to emerge from his lair and express that opinion to sheep farmers in Gairloch or Skye. He would get short shrift.

We have seen before that Mr Crumley would reserve rural Scotland as some sort of theme park more or less completely for his leisure moments.

The truth is that rural Scotland is a dynamic, living place where its inhabitants work and live, populating its glens with families and children, not the preserve of those who would visit for their days off, and then clear off again.

One of the few ways these rural populations are sustainable is by supporting the increasing and lucrative field sports industry, which science tells us is good for both people and wildlife.

Who would provide alternative employment or funding?

Those areas owned by the communities of which he speaks have been almost completely funded by taxpayers (my) money.

Does he advocate the same for the grouse moors and deer forests he so despises?

Does he have the slightest grasp of economic reality?

How can he speak of honesty in the debate and then use his platform to ignore the facts because they do not suit his form of political dogma, his imaginary utopia?

Gerard Watts.
Persie Estate,
Glenshee.

Windfarm will kill seabirds

Sir – With reference to Mainstream Renewable Power’s call to the RSPB to abandon its objections to the Neart na Goaithe windfarm, can I point out to this developer that humans are not the only species to call this planet their home.

We are, however, the species with a superior intelligence, or so we claim.

The plan to build a windfarm in one of the most important seabird feeding areas in Scotland is an affront to humanity and the planet’s wellbeing.

The loss of an investment of £2 billion and 500 jobs is small compared to the loss of gannets, puffins, dolphins and whales from our coastal waters.

Erecting killing machines as a means of preserving the planet is complete lunacy.

G. Donaldson.
48 St Ninian’s Road,
Padanaram.

Food threat from USA trade deal

Sir, – Derek Farmer (August 15) is right to advise eating local produce whenever possible. Scotland is famous for the quality of its farm produce and buying local is always good for the economy. However, he is looking the wrong way for potential problems with food safety.

The serious threat to the quality of the food in our shops comes not from Europe, but from a post-Brexit trade deal with the USA.

Andrew Collins.
Ladyburn House,
Skinners Steps,
Cupar.

Arbroath may be missing out

Sir, – It seems a pity that Angus Council has turned down John Carswell’s application to create a new lobster shack business in the former toilet block at Old Shore Head, Arbroath.

There may well be practical and social reasons why such a venture should not go ahead but if the business were to be anything like either the East Pier Smokehouse in St Monans or Riley’s Fish Shack on the beach at Tynemouth, both enormously popular local and tourist attractions, then I cannot help thinking that Arbroath might be missing a terrific opportunity.

Peter Gregor.
35 Queen Street,
Newport-on-Tay.

Noble history of Chesterhill

Sir, – I am writing in response to the article about Chesterhill House, Newport, by Jack McKeown.

The house is substantially older than was stated and was built around 1710 by my maternal great, great, great, great, great-grandfather William de Juste, a prominent local farmer of French descent.

He arrived from the Loire valley area of France about 30 years earlier as a Huguenot refugee with his extended family including his father, also William de Juste, and his uncle Baron de Juste.

They landed near St Andrews and farmed there before expanding their operations in the Newport area.

The house was originally known as Justfield (the de Juste name subsequently being anglicised to Just) and remained in the family for 200 years during which time they integrated into the community, becoming prominent figures in the business, social and ecclesiastical life of Newport.

Justfield was sold in 1907 by Barbara Dall Just when she emigrated to Australia with her family after the death of her husband John Just.

The name was then changed to Chesterhill House by the new owners, the Berry family of Tayfield Estate.

Mike Burgess.
Balgove Cottage,
Strathtyrum,
St Andrews.

No easy answer to drug scourge

Sir, – In the face of the latest rise in drug deaths in Scotland, taking us to the worst level in Europe, it is clearly time to think again about what really works.

Every one of the 867 deaths across Scotland from drug-related causes in 2016 is a tragedy, with areas like Dundee suffering particularly badly.

I hope the Scottish Government does instigate a fundamental review as many experts are calling for, but there is little point unless this is done with a genuinely open mind, and a willingness to reverse some of the impacts of cuts in this area.

The issues behind drug deaths are both longstanding and complex, and cannot be blamed on any one political party.

Indeed, the self-destructive tendencies brought on by drug misuse have ultimately to be faced up to by those using drugs who need help to find the way to change.

Yet the services that have been proven to work have been starved of funding.

Years of squeezing local authority budgets has been passed on to the third sector in Scotland, and, within the range of social projects it manages, the drug misuse sector has arguably suffered worst than most.

Trying to break the cycle of drug misuse requires a long-term commitment that is unavoidably expensive, involving as it so often does for a given individual, a sequence of setbacks along the way.

The Scottish Government needs to understand that attempting to solve this problem on the cheap is simply not going to work, and if it is serious in wanting to make a difference, there are many on the frontline of supporting addicts who have the insights to help.

Keith Howell.
White Moss,
West Linton.

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