Today’s letters to The Courier focus on the need for spending cuts, pensioners and the Budget, wind turbines, hydro power, and the building industry.
Unions must be realistic about spending cuts
Sir,-Unison’s belligerent Dave Prentis has declared war on the government even though he must realise that confrontation and strikes will only produce a Grecian denouement.
There are more creative ways of handling this crisis and the public service unions could take a lesson from the flexibility shown in the private sector.
When the economy nosedived, many of our biggest companies introduced shorter hours, temporary plant closures or extended holidays, in return for lower wages.
They had to lay off far fewer employees and were better placed to respond to the upturn. A pay cut may be painful and those iconic public sector pensions are certainly going to be trimmed but it is surely not as painful as redundancy.
(Dr) John Cameron.10 Howard Place,St Andrews.
Pension deal sounds hollow
Sir,-I do not quite share Jack Stewart’s upbeat comments (June 23) about pensioners being better off under this Government’s Budget. The pension increase promises will be in line with earnings, with retail prices, or 2.5%, whichever is greater.
With unemployment likely to rise rather than fall, and retailers pushed to be ever more competitive and with public-sector pay freezes likely to be copied in industry, I think the biggest increase we can hope for is 2.5%. Fine, but set that against the VAT increase of and pensioners could actually face a cost of living increase.
I am not complaining, just being realistic about the reality of this ‘promise’ to protect the vulnerable.
A. M. Lindsay.1 Firbank Road,Perth.
Windfall for landowners
Sir,-Reading your Energising Scotland articles (June 24) raises an interesting point. Every wind site developer makes a claim as to the number of homes their development is capable of powering as one of their justifications for imposing ever more wind turbines on our landscape.
However, when you analyse these claims and aggregate the number of houses to be powered from the turbines operating in Scotland, the total is approaching half the total number of homes in Scotland.
Yet there is no sign of the impact of this on the closure of CO2 emitting fossil-fuelled power stations which is the only way CO2 emissions can be reduced by building wind turbines
This surely exposes the lack of credibility in the environmental benefit claims regularly made by politicians and the wind lobby.
The despoiling of our countryside, plus huge subsidies for wind turbines and consequent higher electricity costs, would seem to be for no benefit whatsoever except, of course, to developers and landowners.
G. M. Lindsay.Whinfield Gardens,Kinross.
Hydro power key to future
Sir,-Philip Roberts (June 24) asks what Jim Crumley proposes as an alternative to wind turbines. Almost anything, I suggest. Wind turbines do not leak oil like BP’s infamous well but they leak money just as fast and disastrously.
Only the money generated by fossil fuel keeps the wind industry afloat.
World governments seem hypnotised by wind turbines which cannot operate in high winds or no wind, which cannot put electricity into the national grid at certain times for fear of overloading the system and, overall, are grossly inefficient. Fossil fuel power stations will always be needed as back-up.
Apart from coal, gas and oil, the only reliable power available is nuclear and our Scottish Parliament has vetoed its use, while Westminster has blown so hot and cold over nuclear power stations that the UK is decades behind in their construction.
Meanwhile, France has been building nuclear stations and China coal-fired stations for years.
Unless we do something drastic soon, we shall be dependent on France and other countries for electricity and Russia for gas.
Hydro-electric power stations would help but we are not building them either in any significant numbers.
Scottish Water, in reply to impending water shortages, say they cannot cater for exceptional droughts.
Why not? If they built enough dams to store water for any emergency, they could solve three problems at a stroke floods in winter, droughts in summer and a clean, reliable source of electricity all the year round to back up nuclear power. They would get a worthwhile return on their investment in no time.
George K. McMillan.5 Mount Tabor Avenue,Perth.
Building sector recovery delayed
Sir,-The cuts to public spending announced in last week’s Emergency Budget should come as no surprise and are something the construction sector has been bracing itself for.
But the Chancellor’s announcement contained little to stimulate the promised enterprise-led recovery. The Scottish Building Federation’s latest membership survey has found confidence in the construction sector slipping into reverse, with many firms blaming a lack of bank lending for our industry’s sluggish performance.
Sadly, I can find nothing in the budget that would help ease the availability of affordable credit to building firms or to expanding businesses and homebuyers that should be driving future construction demand. However politically popular it may be, I fear the proposed new bank levy may actually encourage banks to restrict their lending further.
What’s more, for the construction sector, increasing VAT to 20% is a retrograde step which plays into the hands of cash-in-hand cowboys by increasing their competitive advantage over legitimate building firms.
It will be a further setback to sustainable recovery in the construction industry.
Michael Levack.Chief Executive,Scottish Building Federation,4 Crichton’s Close,Edinburgh.