Scotland’s uplands need new innovation

Two white-tailed eagle chicks pictured in north-east Fife.

Sir, – Mr Watts (August 31) does not contradict, but reinforces my point that sea eagles rarely take live lambs when he quotes SNH which states “given their presence occasionally conflicts with livestock rearing”.

In its latest publication on this topic, SNH confirms “eagles do take a small number of live lambs, but the majority of lambs taken were scavenged as carrion”.

Furthermore it adds that funding is available to both help improve lamb and sheep flock health and to undertake preventative measures.

Sporting estates do legally qualify for agricultural grants if they keep a small number of animals on what is primarily a grouse moor.

However, some see this simply as an abuse of the system which was designed to help small farmers in financially challenging conditions.

It was not designed to increase the profits of those providing wealthy patrons grouse to shoot.

The Land Reform (Scotland) Bill can force a landowner to sell if “the owner is blocking economic or social development.”

I would assume that this clause was inserted for a reason, the reason being that historically, by way of the power that large landowners wield in these communities, many have indeed blocked such developments, hence the need for legal measures.

How many jobs might new housing create and what new opportunities might arise if the incoming inhabitants were allowed to plant their roots in land previously reserved for the privileged and the relatively small number of full-time workers who serve their needs?

The uplands of Scotland are crying out for the type of innovations these people would bring with them.

George Murdoch.
4 Auchcairnie Cottages,

Shameful proposal

Sir, – Alex Orr continues on his quest to persuade us that immigration is good for Scotland and its people.

He uses his well-worn statement that we need immigrants to pay our pensions, however, the Turner Commission on pensions well and truly scotched this fallacy.

Too many immigrants would take menial jobs and pay no taxes while obtaining social housing and welfare to the detriment of the existing people.

In order to pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits, an immigrant with a wife and two children would have to earn more than £32,000 a year.

Then, of course, the immigrant and family bring more pressure on schools and the health service.

The House of Lords select committee on economic affairs said there was no evidence that immigration generates significant economic benefit.

In Scotland there are 5,000 children homeless and living in temporary accommodation.

Mr Orr should be ashamed of his proposal.

Clark Cross.
138 Springfield Road,

Downside of immigration

Sir, – Alex Orr does not define what he means by the term immigration.

Does he mean seasonal labourers, students, asylum seekers or economic migrants wishing to settle in Scotland for a better life?

This nonsense about the impact of an ageing population on the workforce needed in Scotland is a red herring.

Firstly, technology is reducing the scale of required human interventions. Taking agriculture as an example, the workforce has declined by more than 40% in the past 30 years. Secondly, membership of the EU has allowed employers a pool of cheap labour and this has been a huge disincentive towards the skills training of our own indigenous children.

The education and health sectors are cases in point.

No one with any sense promotes a blanket ban on all immigration. What is proposed is control over immigration so that those seeking to enter the UK are provided with entry visas instead of simply walking through border controls and disappearing into our urban environments.

Derek Farmer.
Knightsward Farm,

Cut speeding in Largoward

Sir, – I live in the north-east Fife racetrack known as Largoward.

We are so used to speeding vehicles rushing through our village that when cars are sticking to the speed limit they actually appear to be going slow.

This problem of speeding has been an issue for a very long time.

In the run-up to the last general election we had one of those Liberal Democrat propaganda sheets pushed through our doors.

In it there was a promise made by none other than Willie Rennie that traffic calming measures would be put in place to stop the speeding. He also promised a zebra crossing outside the school “ if we wanted one”.

Needless to say, nothing has materialised except for a second visit to the village of Fife’s very own cardboard cut-out traffic police officer complete with speed camera.

He seems to pop up in various locations around Fife and is far more visible than the real thing.

Harry Key.
20 Mid Street,

Tyre solution for Montrose?

Sir, – I read with great interest the letter from John Page on the subject of the erosion of the beach at Montrose.

As a frequent visitor to Montrose I have also seen the erosion get worse and worse.

I would, however, like to inform your readers that there are a number of tyre recyclers in Scotland fighting to develop uses for this very versatile waste product.

In Scotland we currently pay to have old tyres burned to provide energy from waste or they are baled and exported.

Old tyres can be used in many, many other different ways, from ships’ fenders to soakaways and much more, and, as Mr Page indicated, bank reinforcement.

A hard engineering project would not benefit the problem in Montrose as has been seen already. Let us try something different for a change, something that works.

Mark Duncan.
Railway Terrace,

How will SNP plug fiscal gap?

Sir, – Correspondents and politicians continue to try to dismiss the GERS figures that reveal a fiscal deficit of £13 billion by saying they are only relevant to current constitutional arrangements. Yet GERS does represent the best guide to the starting point for an independent Scotland, and neither Nicola Sturgeon nor the Growth Commission, dispute that.

Those who favour Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom do not suggest an independent Scotland would not survive as a separate country, or that it could not go on to thrive based on the individual and collective capabilities of its people and its natural and economic resources. But would this be better than remaining in the UK?

The SNP has to explain how it would get from a current starting point of such a substantial imbalance in Scottish public finances, to something in the future which is more sustainable.

Keith Howell.
White Moss,
West Linton.