SO TODAY brought news of another blow to tackling climate change and progression towards renewables with job losses predicted due to poor funding from the UK Government (Tories will cripple renewables sector, The National, March 6).

I’m sure no-one is particularly surprised to hear that the Tories are not huge fan of renewables as oil and gas is where the money is still to be made (Profile: 50 years of oil and gas, The National, March 6).

The energy minister at Westminster, Greg Clark, is also the minister for business and industry so the chance of looking after society’s needs over businesses’ seems like an alien concept to the Tories.

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The big oil and gas companies carry such high power leverage in the relationship with governments and this seems to manifest in these types of situations. It is not just the Westminster government; Alex Salmond also sided with Ineos in the 2013 strikes called due to proposed poorer working conditions.

These large companies threatening to leave an economy could be disastrous for employment, I understand this, but governments should not be held to ransom and even consider turning their backs on their own morals and principles. This does not only has a negative impact on climate change and progression towards renewables but also sells the employees short, in the situation with Ineos, and forced to accept poorer working conditions.

Now back to the current risk of job losses in one of Scotland’s “booming” sectors – renewable energy. As this article pointed out, we have, with some of the stronger winds in February, produced 67 per cent of our electricity needs for one month. This is way ahead of any international climate change agreements and even the Scottish Government’s own targets; something that our nation should be really proud of.

In 2016 it was recorded and publicised by Greenpeace that we achieved 100 per cent production of our energy for four whole days during the winter. The possibilities with further investment – inclusion of other renewable energy production methods; technological innovation to store excess power created and the expansion of the offshore wind farms – could do wonders for our production capabilities.

I find it ludicrous that a sector of industry that is “out-performing” at such a massive rate could even be considered for cuts from the government and facing job losses; the mind boggles.

Then unfortunately it goes back to the power and leverage held by those powerful oil and gas companies.

The SNP and Scottish Green Party saw lower voter numbers in the Holyrood 2016 elections in traditionally oil-rich areas in the north-east of Scotland and this could be to do with their interest in renewables and moving away from oil and gas industry but it doesn’t have to be doom and gloom for these areas; albeit they have faced times of hardship in recent years.

The decommissioning of oil rigs would create jobs in the short term but the long-term strategy would be to retrain oil and gas workers to work in the renewables sector; alongside implement education strategy to provide the skills for the future workforce.

This is maybe what the Tories should have done during the closing of mines and other industries in the 1980s. The Tories should listen to the Scottish Government’s proposition for the Budget to include adequate funding for Scottish renewables tomorrow.

Brian Finlay, Scottish Green Party Cllr Candidate, Rutherglen South


Alarm bells ringing for farmers, crofters and fishermen

FORMER Prime Minister John Major is right to call the UK Government’s Brexit White Paper “flimsy”; and it certainly is for Scotland’s fishermen, farmers and crofters.

For such an important all-encompassing issue as Brexit, all they dedicate to agriculture is 193 words and only 152 to fishing.

But it is just 34 words on agriculture and 22 words on fishing that will raise alarm bells for fishermen, farmers and crofters.

On fishing they say: “…it is in both our interests to reach a mutually beneficial deal that works for the UK and the EU’s fishing communities.” That sounds nowhere like the appeal the Leave campaign presented when they said “opening up of British waters to EU in the 1970s had a devastating effect”. Sounds like they will continue with this “devastating effect”.

Scottish fishermen will remember that the 1972 UK Government took them into the CFP [Common fisheries policy] with an internal Scottish Office paper saying they were “expendable” and that up to half of them could lose their jobs.

Scottish fishermen now face the bizarre position that just as the UK Government sold out Scottish fishermen going into Europe they will sell them out to leave.

On agriculture they say: “…with EU spend on CAP [Common agricultural policy] at around €58 billion in 2014 (nearly 40 per cent of the EU’s budget), leaving the EU offers the UK a significant opportunity to design new, better and more efficient policies.”

That doesn’t sound like the promise Tory farming minister George Eustice gave when he told farmers: “that the UK government will continue to give farmers and the environment as much support – or perhaps even more – as they get now”.

“Efficient policies” rings like those government weasel words of “efficiency savings”, or “cuts” as everyone else knows them.

Under the 1998 Scotland Act any powers not specifically reserved to Westminster automatically devolve to the Scottish Parliament.

Yet Theresa May is now signalling she will break this fundamental principle and take those powers back under central control.

Considering Theresa May is desperate for a trade deal with US President Donald Trump which could open up the UK to American produce, this should set alarm bells ringing for quality producers in Scotland.

Why else would Mrs May want agricultural policy in the hands of Westminster instead of Holyrood?

This May there are local elections and Scotland’s fishing and agricultural communities can send a message to the UK Government that they will not be taken for “expendable” again nor be taken for fools by the use of weasel words about “efficiency” or cuts by any other name, and not have their industry opened up to a trade deal with Trump’s America.

James MacDonald, Oban

THE Unionist parties in Scotland make great play of the fact that Scotland’s exports to England are quite appreciably larger than our exports to Europe.

The implication being that if we remain in the EU while they drift quietly offshore, they will cease to do business with us.

I assume England imports our goods because they want them.

There are of course other sources in the world but here is the rub: those other sources are thousands of miles away.

The Scottish goods are conveniently just 300 miles away down a road or railway, thus vastly reducing transport costs.

We know there will be 25 per cent tariffs between EU countries and England but then lacking any trade deals with other nations there will be World Trade Organisation tariffs for imports from elsewhere.

Logic is putting the goods on the railway wagon – unless, of course the English government want to be childish and have a tantrum.

R Mill Irving, Gifford, East Lothian

THE purpose of smart meters is to give suppliers your user profile.

You can then be disconnected when power shortages occur due to the inadequacy of renewable energy, and can be differentially charged to change your usage profile for the same reason.

They are most certainly not for your benefit.

Malcolm Parkin, Kinnesswood, Kinross