Killing birds for pleasure cannot be sport

© Getty
A member of a shooting party has grouse in his sights.

Sir, – I write with reference to Mr Watts’ criticism of Jim Crumley’s column and even his lifestyle.

It seems to me that in Mr Watts’ views we should all be thankful, if not grateful, to those brave chaps who fearlessly venture on to glens to blast those vicious avian creatures at their own great peril and expense.

Is tramping the hills shooing our native grouse from their nests and chicks on to a battery of shotguns meaningful employment?

Is breeding dogs and rearing horses in order to rip foxes to bits a job to be proud of?

No. Sheltering behind the myth that country sports boost the economy is beyond risible.

The bare facts are that the majority of all this rural employment eventually leads to the blasting of harmless birds out of the sky for personal pleasure.

In a modern, forward-looking society these Victorian/Edwardian practices should be long gone.

The very breeding of game birds to blast them from the sky for so-called sport is despicable.

More power to Jim Crumley’s elbow I say

James Davie.
33 Aberdour Place,


GERS present stark reality

Sir, – So the backlash begins on social media from nationalist extremists, following publication of the Scottish Government’s own GERS numbers for 2016/17.

Anyone daring to highlight long-term weakness in Scotland’s finances is accused of talking down Scotland

Or, shock horror, suggesting the SNP’s pre-referendum White Paper’s economic forecasts were wildly and intentionally optimistic to the point of being misleading is labelled unpatriotic.

The reality is that post-oil boom Scotland is £13.3 billion in the red.

The 2016/17 deficit at 8.3% is three times higher than the UK figure and higher than any of the 28 EU states.

Any suggestion by Nicola Sturgeon that an independent Scotland would glide easily into the EU is a fantasy.

Many years of austerity at a level hitherto unseen by Scots would be required for Scotland to meet the EU’s stringent financial entry requirements.

Anyone analysing inherent risk in the SNP establishment’s own numbers doesn’t deserve abuse from the SNP’s more extreme supporters. It is simply common sense.

Martin Redfern.
Woodcroft Road,


We need deposit return scheme

Sir, – You highlighted the problem of thousands of nurdles, tiny plastic pellets, washed up on the coast.

Not only are these unsightly, but they also pose a big threat to sea life, and the chemical pollutants they absorb can also end up in the human food chain.

As your article pointed out, nurdles are used in the manufacture of everyday plastic products, which I assume must include the billions of plastic bottles produced every year, many of which end up in landfill or in our oceans.

According to Greenpeace, up to 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enter the oceans a year.

Their ship, The Beluga, toured the Scottish coastline in June and documented evidence of the scale of the problem on our own shores and the effect it was having on sea birds and other creatures.

Manufacturers and consumers of soft drinks in plastic bottles have a responsibility to do something about this problem.

In Scotland, there is growing support by both the public and politicians for a deposit return scheme, which has already dramatically increased collection rates of plastic bottles in European countries and the United States.

Sally Romilly.
4 Westwood Terrace,


Pedestrians at risk in Dundee

Sir, – I note from your report (August 18) that far more pedestrians are killed or seriously injured than any other category of road user.

I do not find this surprising since, having given up my car 14 years ago on grounds of carbon emissions and cost, I find Dundee a peculiarly car-friendly city.

I have been knocked down on the pavement and the driver was acquitted.

The traffic lights are green for pedestrians for an absurdly short time, for example, at the foot of Blackness Avenue, one can barely cross diagonally walking at full pace. What must it be like for the less agile?

The lights at the main Nethergate/Marketgait intersection (and also immediately north of the station) allow one to cross half-way and then immediately prevent one completing the crossing.

Having said that, one does see pedestrians taking absurd risks; as if it was worth risking life and limb for gaining five seconds.

But most importantly, why cannot Dundee make residential areas 20 mph?

My local councillor has enquired about this, and the police response was that there was not evidence that it was necessary. Well, I think your admirable report provides the necessary evidence.

Antony Black.
79 Blackness Avenue,


Is Ms Sturgeon a unionist?

Sir, – In politics, words matter and Nicola Sturgeon now feels after a lifetime of identifying herself as a nationalist, the words national and nationalism have a very negative and ugly meaning for her.

Her sentiment was revealing and must come as a shock to most of her supporters who take great pride in their nationalism.

It would appear she has belatedly come to the conclusion that the rest of us who didn’t share her nationalist political ideology were indeed correct all along.

So Ms Sturgeon is committed to reassuring us all that somehow Scottish nationalism is different from every other nationalist movement throughout the world.

Ms Sturgeon said: “If Scotland is your home, and you live here and you feel you have a stake in the country, you are Scottish and you have as much say over the future of the country as I do.”

Paradoxically, Ms Sturgeon is expressing the very idea of Britishness where individuals of different nationalities can live together equally in union as Britons with a civic, inclusive, open and tolerant view of each other.

Has Nicola Sturgeon seen the light and is she really a unionist at heart?

Iain G Richmond.
Guildy House,


Sir, – First Minister Nicola Sturgeon deemed a UK visit by President Trump unthinkable.

That is fair enough. The man’s actions have been deplorable, before and after his inauguration.

But the First Minister certainly does not manifest similar views in relation to the president of China, a country with an endless list of civil rights violations, no free press, a habit of bullying its neighbours and in cahoots with many a third-rate dictator eager for cash.

Quite the opposite. The Scottish Government bends backwards to please China. We should be immune to politicians’ hypocrisy, but sometimes one is forced to protest.

Athayde Tonhasca Jr.
79 Ash Grove,