Letters to the editor – 22.4.21

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Who will get my vote?

Each of the five parties is invited to answer the question below within seven days.
Any party that fails to respond with a simple YES or NO will be assumed to have answered NO. The results will be published.

Many disabled people get free bus travel in Scotland, but the toilets on long-distance buses are not suitable for disabled people. However, the toilets on trains are suitable. Will you allow disabled people who already qualify for free bus travel in Scotland to also get free rail travel?
David Gallant, Oban, disabled persons’ bus pass holder.

Column read with dismay

I read Iain Thornber’s Heritage column Burning the hills come the spring (April 8) with dismay. Has Iain not heard that we are in the midst of a climate and ecological emergency of our own making, and that the annual burning of the land to within an inch of its life contributes to this?

‘Making Muirburn’ does not carry Scots back to the time of their ancestors, it carries us back to the Victorian era when the pastime of sports shooting (particularly red grouse) was embraced by the aristocracy.

Contrary to the opinion espoused by Iain, land intensively managed using muirburn does not support a rich diversity of flora or fauna. It supports a stunted covering of heather that supports very few species. Scotland was once covered with trees – the ancient forest of Caledon – and until the outdated practice of muirburn is stopped, Scotland’s native woodlands and once rich biodiversity, will not recover.
Muirburn does not make the landscape more resilient; it damages peatland, which is an essential carbon store, and removes vegetation cover increasing runoff and flooding downstream.

It is also disappointing that someone in Iain Thornber’s position of influence dismisses science out of hand as codswallop. The science tells us that we live in one of the most nature depleted countries on the planet, where average species abundance has declined by 24 per cent since 1994. To reverse the ongoing ecological decline, we need to embrace the science and restore Scotland’s devastated and barren landscape, not continue to burn it.
Kate Willis, by email.

Destruction of Dunbeg trees

I have no time for conspiracy theories. However, I would like to know if there is a concerted effort to rid Dunbeg of all trees. I am not talking about the commercial crop above Dunbeg, which was planted to be harvested and will, presumably, be replanted. What concerns me is the wicked destruction of nicely maturing hardwoods at the new marine lab development.

Presumably it was a planning condition that trees be planted for phase one. Now that particular box has been ticked they can, apparently, be discarded.

The much needed improvement to Kirk Road resulted in a very wide swathe of mature trees being felled, much wider, it appears, than was necessary. Lots of trees have been felled for the improvements at the pumping station and it appears the new houses being built are so close to each other that the only planting will be grass and monobloc.

I am waiting to see how many trees are destroyed for the proposed cycle path between Dunbeg and Connel.
Iain Moody, Dunbeg.

Criticism where it’s due

While we certainly appreciate the support from Joanne Matheson, Acharacle, on the principle of the community gaining the land from the GFG Alliance (LT April 8), it is important that criticism is levelled at the correct party.
We believed we were close to receiving a sustainable and significant proposal in early 2019 from the then chief executive of Jahama Highland Estates, thanks to pressure from the Scottish Government through the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Land Reform and her staff, who have been supportive throughout and remain so. On the other hand we now see little enthusiasm from the GFG Alliance to meet the terms of the undertaking they gave the Scottish Government in 2016 to conclude a transaction with us.
John C Hutchison, chairman East Lochaber and Laggan Community Trust.

NHS funding

The demands placed on Scotland’s health service by the pandemic have intensified pleas for an increase in funding for Scottish NHS.

NHS funding in Scotland comes from the block grant from Westminster. If huge sums of Scottish taxpayers’ money were not being used to pay Scotland’s share of renewing and maintaining Britain’s nuclear submarine fleet, there would be funds available to properly support the Scottish NHS. This will only be possible when Scotland is independent once more.
Susan Swain, Dunbar.