Madam, – Secret papers recently released under the 30-year rule divulge that the UK Government, in 1989, considered plans to dump the radioactive hulks of 22 redundant nuclear submarines in the sea off the Western Isles of Scotland.
The problem arose because a plan to dump the radioactive hulks in a deep trench in mid-Atlantic was scuppered by US and international opposition.
So what could they do?
They did what Westminster governments generally do with stuff which is dangerous, or they want to hide: they dump it in Scotland.
After all, who would notice a few submarines scuttled in the waters off Skye?
Who would care about the risks to a few crofters in Barra?
And what could a few teuchters on Mull do about it anyway?
It had worked fine since 1955 for their experimental fast breeder nuclear reactor at Dounreay, coincidentally the furthest point from Westminster on the British mainland.
And the UK’s nuclear weapons systems, first to be targeted in any nuclear conflict, have been based at Faslane, only 30 miles from Scotland’s biggest city, since 1968.
In 2013 information released under that same 30-year rule revealed that the Ministry of Defence had been dumping thousands of depleted uranium tank shells in the Solway Firth for 30 years, despite being part of an inter-governmental agreement not to dump such waste in the sea.
In 2015 it was reported that radioactive waste from Sellafield in Cumbria was contaminating shellfish 160 miles up the west coast in Argyll, and presumably all points in between.
Gruinard Island near Ullapool was so badly contaminated with Anthrax bacteria during MoD experiments in the Second World War that it was unsafe to visit for 50 years.
And goodness knows what we still do not know.
Fortunately, so far as I am aware there are no such dangers reported on the River Thames.
5 Carmichael Gardens,
Praise for EIS on P1 assessments
Madam, – EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan is owed a debt of gratitude for his leadership on the issue of Primary One assessments.
This leadership is even more praiseworthy in light of the decisions by Fife Council (Fife Council scraps controversial testing, Courier, December 14) and some council representatives to CoSLA.
My knowledge of this is as a parent with school age children and as a councillor seeking the best for all our children.
At a recent Comhairle nan Eilean Siar education committee meeting I was heartened to hear this Scottish Government initiative being supported by councillors whom I consider eminent teachers and educationalists.
The consensus of these retired teachers was remarkably consistent, irrespective of their political brand.
They considered the P1 assessment process to be a good, fun and play-based means of identifying needs and pupils who might benefit from additional assistance at an early stage. I do not recollect them criticising the Scottish Government on the issue, nor do I recall any snub to the professionalism of teachers, the EIS, the parents or the children.
A barrage of negative reports in the media have followed and the sole voice of balance and consideration at national level has come from Mr Flanagan. It is clear teachers are dedicated to getting the best for their pupils and we must continue to do our utmost to support them.
Based on how the retired teachers praised the P1 assessment, I accept the Scottish Government should continue with this programme.
Larry Flanagan is to be praised for having the courage and integrity to say publicly that any decisions on the P1 assessment programme should be evidence- based. This approach is certainly preferable to political games used to justify the removal of the P1 programme, irrespective of the advantage afforded to pupils.
Uidhist aghus Barraidh, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
OAPs must also feel Brexit pain
Madam, – There seems little doubt that those who swung the Brexit vote – the English provinces, especially the Midlands and the North – will be hit hardest by the fall-out.
This is only fair but should they not be joined by the pensioners who voted two-to-one to leave?
I hear a great deal from oldie Leavers about the Dunkirk spirit and of the suffering that must be endured for a “glorious” future. But it would be the height of hypocrisy for young Remainers to bear all the pain while we escape with all our freebies intact.
Rev Dr John Cameron.
10 Howard Place,
Wake up to UK energy crisis
Madam, – The climate and energy website Carbon Brief boasted that a third of the electricity generated in the UK last year was from renewable sources.
Wind farms 17%, solar 4% and biomass 11%.
What Carbon Brief did not disclose was that gas, at 40%, kept the lights on. Biomass relies on wood pellets shipped thousands of miles to the UK from America and Canada.
Replacing the carbon dioxide sink of the trees cut down takes 20 years.
Most worrying is Britain’s dependence on imports of electricity.
At present it is 6% but is forecast to be 22% by 2025. Where will all this extra electricity come from? Our politicians need to wake up to the looming energy crisis.
138 Springfield Road,
Power wastage still on the rise
Madam, – The amounts paid to wind farm operators in the UK to not produce electricity continues to rise.
In 2018, the figure was £125 million, 15% up on 2017.
Of that, £115 million was accounted for by Scottish wind farms which, in 2018, discarded enough electricity to power half a million households for a year.
It may be that some excess production and waste cannot be avoided, but the amount of waste, at our expense, is increasing.