Ignore European vacuum cleaner rules

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Sir, – Yet again we are about to obey a senseless and unnecessary edict from the EU mandarins, that of reducing the power of vacuum cleaners to half their normal potency, and I believe electric kettles may soon follow suit.

The belief is that using less electricity will benefit the environment and reduce carbon emissions.

Will not fastidious housewives simply take longer to clean carpets as will kettles take longer to boil, negating the intention?

I believe such decisions are made by those in high and powerful positions who have a need to justify their existences and thus tinker with, and pontificate about trumped-up issues of little importance, but which can heavily influence our daily lives.

We are soon leaving this restrictive and blinkered EU and have more important matters to concentrate upon.

Why cannot we simply follow the example of the French and the Italians and throw such unwarranted, unwanted, and restrictive directives into the waste-paper basket?

David L Thomson.
24 Laurence Park,
Kinglassie.

Bird deaths can be measured

Sir, – It was rather disheartening to read of the disappearance of Calluna, a hen harrier that was satellite tagged last year and disappeared in the Cairngorms National Park.

It was also unhelpful for David Johnstone, spokesman for Scottish Land and Estates, to pass judgment on the RSPB for bringing this to the public’s attention rather than informing the estate where the signal stopped.

To the best of my knowledge, the RSPB followed protocol.

The SLE are members of the Partnership Against Wildlife Crime, as are the RSPB and a range of other bodies.

Together PAWS created a joint strategy and timetable as to who to contact if a hen harrier tag stopped in suspicious circumstances .

The RSPB responded to the Calluna incident by contacting the police as that is the agreed procedure.

Whichever way you look at it, now that tagging is here to stay, the number of raptors disappearing can now be measured and the results published by the RSPB and Scottish Natural Heritage show that a high proportion disappear on grouse shooting estates.

That must be a concern to both sides.

David Mitchell.
6 Henry Street,
Kirriemuir.

Monitor nests with cameras

Sir, – The annual attempt to lay part of the blame on the RSPB for the slaughter of our birds of prey on or near to driven grouse moors continues courtesy of David Johnstone, Scottish Land and Estates (September 5).

David chastises the RSPB for failing to notify estates in Deeside close to where a satellite-tagged hen harrier, Calluna, went missing.

He urges them to do so in the future in similar circumstances as estates are always willing to help.

Let us look at the facts. In 1998 the RSPB, in conjunction with estates in the Ladder Hills, which are situated north east of where Calluna went missing, conducted a hen harrier survey.

RSPB workers were told to notify estates when they were present and, on occasion, were accompanied to nests by gamekeepers. It seems that many of the nests they were monitoring “mysteriously” failed and the following year saw the number of occupied nesting sites drop significantly.

David cites the failure of satellite tags as being a possible reason for Calluna’s disappearance though, according to two studies, the failure rate is an extremely small 4% to 6% per cent.

On the other hand, of those convicted of crimes linked to raptor persecution between 1994 and 2014, 86% of them were gamekeepers.

If Scottish Land and Estates wish to help then they can publicly join the campaign for the siting of cameras to monitor every nest the RSPB sees as vulnerable.

George Murdoch.
4 Auchcairnie Cottages,
Laurencekirk.

Who will pay for scrappage?

Sir, – So First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s latest legislative programme includes the proposal that those who bought a diesel car as recently as three years ago could be fined for driving in certain Scottish cities by 2020.

Of course, all responsible citizens are concerned about the environment.

But surely this is unworkable from cost and scheduling perspectives?

For most of us, buying or leasing a car comes second, in terms of financial commitment, to securing a roof over our heads.

Why should those who recently bought a particular type of car in good faith be punished by the SNP in this way?

Or is Ms Sturgeon intending to reintroduce a version of the car scrappage scheme to shift drivers away from diesel and compensate them generously for so doing?

And if so, how does Ms Sturgeon intend to pay for it?

Without a significantly greater budget than outlined, surely such draconian legislation can only be deemed an abuse of power?

Martin Redfern.
Woodcroft Road,
Edinburgh.

Orkney puts Fife to shame

Sir, – Following my letter about speeding in Largoward, Councillor Bill Porteous contacted me to say that he and Willie Rennie have received an undertaking from Fife Council that traffic-calming work will be initiated in St Andrews Road in Largoward within the current tax year.

It is a shame that the Cupar Road stretch isn’t included as it is also in need of traffic-calming measures.

Changing the subject somewhat, my wife and I are just back from a few days on Orkney Mainland.

The neolithic sites were very interesting. The massive number and variety of bird life was wonderful. Orkney is a great place to visit for all kinds of reasons.

The thing that fascinated me most was the fact that there are absolutely no potholes to be found anywhere. We drove all over the island both on the main roads and down many side roads. There was not a pothole anywhere.

Perhaps Willie and Bill could get in contact with Alistair Carmichael, their Lib-Dem colleague, to discover Orkney’s secret to having pothole-free roads.

Fife’s roads are a disgrace and a real danger, with broken surfaces virtually everywhere.

One last thought about Largoward. Perhaps when the Fife Council workers are here they might bring a couple of wheelbarrows of extra asphalt and fill in the serious potholes in Mid Street.

Harry Key.
20 Mid Street,
Largoward.

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