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Final V&A costs may soar to £100 million

Final V&A costs may soar to £100 million

Sir, – It would appear from John McClelland’s report on the spiralling costs of the V&A that no one appears to be in charge of the project.

We have a number of people involved from the director of city development to the project director, the council’s chief executive and the project board, all of whom, on occasion, have appeared to be in charge but none of whom appears to have any responsibility.

Perhaps the problem lies in the outsourcing of the technical services.

In the past, projects such as the DCA, Morgan Academy reconstruction, the police mortuary, all complex projects, were completed with minimal cost overruns and were carried out mainly by council staff with a clear line of command and responsibility.

Perhaps the council should revert to this method of procuring major projects rather than relying on outside consultants who appear to be paid to tell the council what they want to hear. As regards final costs, I would suggest that £80 million is merely the starting point and a final cost of £100 million is more likely.

Mac Roberts. Orchard Cottage, Inchture Station.

Talent forced from Scotland

Sir, – Just over 41 years ago, I left Scotland to geta job in agricultural research south of the border, having graduated from GlasgowUniversity with a degree in zoology and then a PhD in entomology.

My reason for emigrating at the time was a lack of jobs in Scotland. What has changed?

After reading the announcement of the Scottish Government’s intention to ban the growing of GM crops in Scotland, I fear forthe future of any new graduate coming through the system now, and any who might have been inclined to do so in the future.

It is a tragedy that the government feels itnecessary to demonise GM technology forpolitical purposes, not based on science.

The decision will severely affect science teaching at the highest level, not to mention future job opportunities, and for what purpose?

Make no mistake, this decision makes a very strong statement about the mentality of theScottish Government and its reluctance to invest in a technological future.

GM crops now. What next? A return to medieval agriculture forScotland? I can just see the chief executive officers of every multinational on the planet crossingScotland off their investment list and yet another door will be slammed shut on prospective job opportunities.

Then the emigration of graduates will be even higher than it was in my day.

If the Scottish Government can make decisions like this on the flimsiest of evidence, thenhow will it cope witheven more important decisions?

Alan Dewar. Dewar CropProtection, Great Saxham, Bury St Edmunds.

Let’s have proper debate

Sir, – The recent decision by the Scottish Government to turn its back on genetic engineering within the farming and food industries seems strange.

On one hand it is calling on farmers and food producers to be the best they can be, to innovate and develop top-quality produce to feed our nation and also to export to the rest of the world.

On the other it is denying the industries the chance to discuss and debate the best ways of achieving these noble aims.

In Scotland we have some of the best scientists and ethical thinkers in the world. We should be asking these people to have a learned and open debate about GM.

Such a debate could lead the world towards more ethical use of such technologies. After all, we have been eating GM foods for many years already.

Within the medical industry these debates are also happening but they are not stopping research from attempting to find cures for such diseases as cancer, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

Please let us have a rational, knowledgeable and reasoned debate on GM and not rely onhysteria from either side of the issue.

Gill Lawrie. Newton of Arbirlot, Arbroath.

A massive own goal on energy

Sir, – Blaming Longannet’s closure on the UK Government is cheap nationalist spin.

Differential grid charges are not new and do not represent a fiendish plot against Scotland.

They reflect the cost of transmission. They are designed to encourage the generation of electricity close to centres of consumption. This is a rational and laudably green aim which one would expect theScottish Governmentto share.

Differential grid charges are not thereason Longannet isclosing early because other forms of generation in Scotland such as wind and hydro copeperfectly well with these grid charges.

Were the UK Government to remove differential grid charges for Longannet, it would represent a massive subsidy to one of Europe’s largest coal-powered plants. Its emissions have effectively made the plant uneconomic and led to cross-party agreement for its scheduled closure in 2020.

Again, one would expect the Scottish Government to cheer the fact that Scotland will now be spared five-years’ worth of pollution.

The SNP has never had a properly thought-through energy policy where security of supply and keeping costs down are the priorities.

Instead, policy has been made on the hoof of nationalist campaigning. It has been cobbled together from fashionable green spin about renewables and the imperative to grab as much subsidy from Westminster as possible for Scottish ‘’economic development’’.

As a result, Scotland is now hosting two-thirds of the UK’s onshore wind turbines while the Scottish Government refuses to replace thermal and nuclear power stations.

This has led to the entirely predictable situation where we are producing far more electricity than we need, or the grid can cope with, when the wind is blowing hard. When wind conditions are less ideal, we have to import electricity from England. No modern first world government in its right mind would choose to rely on intermittent wind energy without ensuring sufficient back-up generation as well as grid and interconnector capacity is available but this is what the SNP has done.

In the coming decades, Scotland will become ever more dependent on imported electricity. The overriding need for energy security will make leaving the union much trickier, if not impossible. The single-minded pursuit of wind energy has cost Scotland its energy independence. For the SNP it is an own goal with potentially catastrophic consequences.

Linda Holt. Dreel House, Anstruther.

Scots bill payers will be hit hard

Sir, – Alex Orr (August 21) has, at best, a partial understanding of the UK system of transmission charging which the Scottish Government blame for the closure of Longannet (despite carbon pricing and EU emissions rules being equally serious factors).

The locational transmission charging system acts to incentivise the generation of electricity as close as possible to the point of consumption, thus minimising transmission losses and improving efficiency. The difficulty that this causes for Scottish generators is due to the fact that we over-produce electricity for the local market. We have peak demand of around 5.4 GW but around 11GW of installed capacity.

Much of this excess capacity has come in the form of large onshore wind projects which SNP ministers have encouraged.

Certainly transmission charges need to be kept under review, but already reductions are being delivered by National Grid which will deliver millions in savings to Scottish generators. And those who argue for adifferent approach need to consider the impact on consumers.

The SNP’s preferred “postage stamp” model, where generators pay the same regardless of location, would, accordingto Ofgem, deliver a£7 billion hike in consumers’ bills. The hardest hit households would be in the north ofScotland, where levels of fuel poverty are already unacceptably high.

I can understand the power companies supporting a massive transfer of wealth from their customers to their own profits, but should the Scottish Government really be on their side?

Murdo Fraser MSP. Scottish Conservative spokesman on energy.

Project Fear stereotypes

Sir, – Derek Farmer’s letter (August 17) avoids Standard and Poor’s optimistic assessment of Scotland’s financial future by simply ignoring their opinion. He then goes on to tick the usual unionist boxes in his reply to me by resorting to the old Project Fear stereotypes.

Taxes are box one in Mr Farmer’s hit parade.

Pointing at taxation in a desperate attempt to deflect attention from the higher levels of disposable income enjoyed by others will not do.

The standard of living indices show how well the populations of those “mature states” exist, in stark contrast to the regime supported by Mr Farmer, which is dragging Scotland back.

Incidentally, excluding our country from his list, ignoring Scotland’s rich and ancient past may suit Mr Farmer’s agenda, but it too smacks of desperate deflection and is a sad indicator of how the Scottish cringe has embedded itself in Scots who would depend on others to govern us, no matter how badly.

Derek Farmer’s opinions are coloured by a tribal fixation with the SNP which the British establishment is willing to encourage. They smack of all that isdistasteful and divisive about the forcesintent on holding on to Scotland.

As for his own assessment of the current Scottish Government, I will take that with a bucket of salt. The SNP are governing Scotland during a period of London-driven austerity, strait-jacketed by a Westminster budget.

They do, however, in spite of everything, have the welfare of the Scottish population at heart and are performing better than previous Labour/Liberal Holyrood governments.

Mr Farmer claims Scotland is small and poor, in spite of the evidence to the contrary.

He repeats the self-serving, creative accountancy of Whitehall and its subsidised Scotland myth.

That is another box ticked in the London establishment’s arsenal of dirty tricks. His own complete lack of a “cogent case” for the union, beyond the usual scaremongering, is marked.

I had hoped that my inclusion of Standard and Poor’s extremely positive assessment for Scotland, based solely on Scotland’s future on-shore economic performance, may have given him pause for thought.

Ken Clark. 335 King Street, Broughty Ferry.