Sir, – I am a retired shepherd of 77 years of age and a lifelong reader of The Courier.
Why, oh why, does your columnist Jim Crumley get a full page to write utter drivel?
It was nice, however, to read the letter, Younger gamekeepers take a fresh approach, which was sensible and to the point.
Only the other day my wife went out to her hens: battery hens which she had saved and nursed to the point where they laid all winter, when hens normally go off laying.
Something had got into the hen house and killed four out of six of them.
This has happened to two or three friends in different areas and the ducks by us have also disappeared.
Conservation, yes, but it must be balanced as in the past.
On Mull, golden eagles have nested right besides ewes and lambs without causing a problem. But ravens and white-tailed eagles cause devastation.
Ernest Ripley. Golden Acre, Doune.
Beavers bring clear benefits
Sir, – Mr Farmer (February 13) asked me to respond to his criticism regarding the reintroduction of beavers and inquired as to the benefits of such a policy.
Beavers are a key species that enhance wetland habitat, reduce downsteam flooding, silt run-off and diffuse pollution in major water courses.
Coppicing of bank-side vegetation by beavers is cost-effective and sustainable.
This activity increases the biodiversity value of wetlands for plants, insects, fish, amphibians, birds and mammals.
This would go a long way to offset Mr Farmer’s worries in regard to ground-nesting birds by providing suitable terrain, nesting cover and a more abundant food supply.
Regardless of these ecological facts, Mr Farmer refers to the proposed reintroduction of beavers as a Brigadoon experiment.
This ignores the wider context that since the 1920s, Eurasian beaver reintroductions have been ongoing at 157 sites in 24 different European countries.
A body of knowledge now exists which can be drawn on to resolve any teething problems which might occur.
As an individual who has lived in various Angus Glens over the years, I would advise Mr Farmer that the Brigadoon scenario can be seen at any of the local grouse moors around August 12.
The tweed set strut around while lesser mortals tend to their every need. Brigadoon indeed.
Mr Farmer refers to sea eagles as being “seen occasionally a few hundred years ago”.
Sea eagles were common in Scotland until their last nest was destroyed on Skye in 1916.
Their reintroduction has been worth £2.4 million and £2m annually to the economies of Skye and Mull respectively.
He imagines the uplands turning into an “impassable wilderness” if myself and like-minded people get our way.
To the contrary, I would like to say that I am strongly in favour of progressive and sustainable land management which I imagine would benefit the whole of Scotland’s population.
George Murdo. 4 AuchcairnieCottages, Laurencekirk.
Dark legacy of Mrs Thatcher
Sir, – Dr John Cameron (February 12) claimed that Margaret Thatcher saved the UK, when in fact all she did was destroy the country’s manufacturing base and opt for an economy dependent upon the financial sector and service industries.
One of her first acts on coming to power was to reduce the top rate of tax from 83% to 60%. Those who benefited from the tax cuts could then invest their new-found wealth in buying shares in utilities such as British Telecom and British Gas.
Mrs Thatcher also presided over an interest rate of 15% which led to an unprecedented spate of home repossessions during her time in office.
The sell-off of council houses created a housing shortage which persists to this day.
Her worst act by far, which eventually led to her party’s decision to change its leader and its election defeat in 1997, was the replacement of the local rates system by the community charge or poll tax.
Allan MacDougall. 37 Forth Park, Bridge of Allan.
Promote North Inch Golf Course
Sir, – Perth and Kinross Council is to be thanked for rejecting the proposal to close the North Inch Golf Course in Perth.
At the same time it should be pointed out, with an eye to the future, that the proposal was completely illogical when the council plans continued investment in Perth tourism.
It should be looking at ways to promote the course.
Ranald Noel-Paton. Pitcurran House, Abernethy.
World on brink once more
Sir, – Global stock markets formally entered a bear market last week as the MSCI All-Country World Index fell by 1.3%.
The stock sell-off both reflected and helped catalyse a broader crisis of confidence in financial markets amid a rapid deceleration of the global economy, a sell-off of emerging market debt, a downward spiral in commodities prices, and the seeming perplexity of central banks as to
how to deal with a renewed outbreak of panic eight years after the 2008 financial crisis.
The current low oil price is not the same thing as net energy, which is what’s left over after you expend energy to get a fossil fuel like oil out of the ground.
As soon as the world economy tries to grow rapidly again, oil will quickly go through two to possibly three complete doublings in price due to supply issues. And those oil price spikes will collide into that tower of outstanding debt, making the economic growth required to inflate them away a lot more expensive.
The deepening sell-off, and the seeming inability of central banks to formulate any coherent response to the panic, have triggered a general crisis of confidence.
The panicked sell-off expresses growing fears in financial markets that the vast quantities of cash pumped into the financial system since 2008 have sown the seeds for a crash on an even greater scale.
This time, however, with central banks having expended so much of their ammunition on seeking to keep financial assets afloat for years, there are increasing fears that they will be powerless to respond to a new financial panic.
Eight years since the 2008 financial crash, it is clear that the capitalist governments and central banks have been unable to address any of its underlying causes.
Instead, they have poured cash into financial markets, triggering a feedback loop of speculation and parasitism in the form of mergers and consolidations.
Alan Hinnrichs. 2 Gillespie Terrace, Dundee.
Early poll would be too risky
Sir, – The latest YouGov poll shows only one in 10 Scots thinks holding another independence referendum should be a priority for the Scottish Government.
So will the SNP take the view that they are popular enough to risk annoying some of their core support and say they will not seek another referendum for at least the term of the next parliament?
That would give the people of Scotland a welcome rest from all the discord and uncertainty of having a threat of an indyref2 hanging over us. After all, Nicola Sturgeon has made it clear she does not want to hold another referendum unless she is confident of winning.
With the same poll revealing that nearly half of Scots think Scotland would have been worse off economically if we had voted to break-up the UK, surely she would not want to go to the polls in the foreseeable future in any case?
Keith Howell. White Moss, West Linton.
Lasers present aircraft danger
Sir, – I have always been disinclined to ban anything but the incident involving a laser being directed at an aircraft has made me reconsider.
Lasers several thousand times more powerful than those found in old presentation pointers can be bought on the internet. How long will it be before an aircraft is brought down?
Bob Stark. Mill Street, Tillicoultry.
Options open to junior doctors
Sir, – It is time for England’s junior doctors to take their gloves off.
While a long strike might be considered to contravene the Hippocratic Oath, nobody could find fault with medics who resigned.
They would then be at liberty to register with agencies to work at whatever was the going rate.
This would be more expensive for the NHS than settling with the BMA, but I cannot see any government allowing hospitals to close when there was a supply of doctors.
John Eoin Douglas. 7 Spey Terrace, Edinburgh.