October 25: Scotland denied technology lead opportunity

Today’s letters to The Courier.

Sir, The pulling of £1 billion in funding for world-leading carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at the Longannet power station by the UK Government is deeply disappointing and will have a profound impact on how we tackle climate change.

Further evidence of this missed opportunity is the fact that Iberdrola, ScottishPower’s parent company behind the technology, is now to use the same technology, which would have been able to cut carbon emissions by 90%, on similar projects in Mexico.

Longannet is the third largest coal-burning fire station in Europe with an appalling pollution record, but because of the pulling of £1bn required to deliver a 260km pipeline, not only will the vast environmental damage caused by coal burning power stations continue, but Scotland has been denied the opportunity of a lead in a technology with a global market, as was the case with wind power in the 1970s and 1980s.

The irony is that while we have a Treasury in London anxious to benefit from Scotland’s natural resources, taking £13 billion of oil and gas revenue this year alone, it won’t put one-tenth of that in a once-and-for-all investment to tackle climate change and secure the future of the coal industry in Scotland.

Alex Orr.77 Leamington Terrace,Edinburgh.

Look again at Leuchars

Sir, I wholeheartedly agree with the letter printed in The Courier (October 19) suggesting the case to save Leuchars should be reopened. The decision taken by Dr Liam Fox was unbelievable.

My recent visit to Leuchars only reaffirmed my belief that it is a top-class RAF station with the latest equipment (Typhoons, etc) and the latest technology, all of which has been installed at no small cost. Not to mention the finest personnel at the base and the safety equipment for pilots while serving at home or abroad.

National defence issues are of major public concern to us all. Along with Sir Menzies Campbell, all elected political representatives in Fife, of whatever persuasion, should be issuing an invitation to the new Defence Secretary Philip Hammond to travel north to see Leuchars air station for himself and then form an opinion on the Quick Action Alert System etc., giving this base the cutting edge on defence, all already paid for.

Anne Whyte.6 Apple Wynd,Montrose.

Political not economical

Sir, Bill Campbell hits the right spot. Now that the defence minister has gone in somewhat spurious circumstances, I agree the review of the closure of RAF Leuchars should at least be looked at.

If politics is at the base of this bad decision it is a bad day for democracy.

An inquiry should be started immediately and should come to the conclusion that Leuchars was shut on a political basis rather than an economic or logistical basis. That would at least be an answer to the poor result the former minister came to.

Sandy Alston.West Lodge,St Andrews.

Ignoring the facts

Sir, As a beneficiary of the wind generation industry Mr Graham Brown (October 20) is obviously highly biased in his views.

He ignores the fact that wind generation, unlike coal, gas and nuclear generators, is highly variable and largely unpredictable and is a nightmare for the grid to handle.

Wind generation can be hugely variable over short periods of time (hours) and often generates electricity when the electricity is not needed to balance the grid.

In these circumstances, the National Grid has to require them to be taken totally offline, with associated huge constraint payments, in order to maintain grid stability.

Conventional generators can vary their output on demand and consequently any constraint payments are significantly lower.

The constraint payment to wind generators averages around £215, with a range of £150 to £800, per MWh and this is in addition to around £50 subsidy per MWh generated.

This is a nice little money spinner when you consider that the price of electricity that we consumers pay is less than £100 per MWh!

This huge level of constraint payment to wind operators is significantly higher than that paid to conventional power station operators.

G. M. Lindsay.Whinfield Gardens,Kinross.

Cheaper and won’t run out

Sir, Neil Craig perpetuates the myth that nuclear energy is cheap and the obvious solution to the country’s energy problems (October 20).This is simply not true.

His assertion that it is ”politically imposed rules” that are keeping this cheap energy from the consumer is a case in point.

It is not politics but economics that keep investors from putting their money in nuclear. It takes about 10-15 years to build a nuclear power plant, from planning to energy production, at a cost of about £10bn per plant a lot of money to tie up for so long with no guaranteed return.

When the rapidly rising cost of uranium, funds for accident clear-up and the huge cost of decommissioning are thrown in, investors turn tail. It will only become economical if governments take on the costs of underwriting construction, decommissioning and accident clear-up.

All of which is moot as, by the time Scotland had enough reactors to power the country, uranium supplies could be nearing depletion leaving us in a critical energy crisis and facing economic ruin. Renewables are far cheaper in the long run, and will never run out.

Stuart Allan.8 Nelson Street,Dundee.

Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL.