PEOPLE in my home area are concerned about fracking in the Woolford and Tarbrax area of South Lanarkshire, where there exist large deposits of shale oil. In particular in a letter a newspaper has sub-headed: “Not a good idea for central Scotland”, Mr Ed Archer speaks out against fracking and cites INEOS.

As he points out, the Central Belt of Scotland is geologically different from that of most of the rest of Scotland. Ed has done a lot of good for the area, tirelessly championing many good causes.

I wish to add to his writing. Sedimentary rocks and minerals are close to the surface of the land, and it is this that led to the heavy industries of coal mining, steel making, shale oil extraction and others.

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This in turn led to ship building, locomotive construction and other manufacturing. People were attracted to the Central Belt area for employment. It became and still is an area of high population density.

As a boy I remember travelling in the tobacco smoke fug of the upper deck of the red SMT buses – Guys and Leylands. The working men smoked and hawked and spat on the steel decking.

The mucus from their chests, damaged not only by cigarette smoke but by the inhalation of the fumes of steel making and the coal dust of the mines, dotted and smeared the floor surface.

Churches and tenement and terrace houses in Motherwell, Wishaw and Hamilton were black with soot. Windmillhill Street in Motherwell no longer had a windmill.

From my bedroom window in Union Street Hamilton, I looked down Auchengramont Road and across the Clyde both to where my wee girlfriend from Dalziel High School lived near Airbles Street and the Motherwell steelworks.

I remember counting the chimneys, just within that small frame of vision.

Seventeen of them belching out fumes coloured every shade of grey between the white of superheated steam to tarry black. Sometimes there were bilious greens and yellows too.

Dark Satanic mills! What toxic, noxious chemicals must have been in the air! A cloud of smoke from domestic coal fires smothered the towns and villages and every winter the notorious smogs carried off the elderly and the weak in their thousands.

There is no need to return to these days to line the pockets of a few rich men and their shareholders.

Or to provide a few jobs that could be provided by alternatives. There is much evidence of the harmful effects of fracking. We have enormous sources of clean renewable energy.

The Scottish Government has a moratorium on fracking. INEOS is the company that nearly closed down Grangemouth. I fear for Grangemouth if INEOS is stopped. This is what happens if you are not able to fully govern for yourself.

Want a job? “12 hours per day, six days per week, £90 per day – £7.50 per hour, self-employed seismic operative. Car needed. Overnight accommodation can be arranged. Willing to work in all weathers. Apply here.”

The company executives are a life peer and former quite senior military officers – logistics experts. They seemingly like to employ ex junior soldiers.

I think that the new company are about to commence exploration in the English Midlands. Google to find out more.

Victor Moncrieff

I DO hope in the SNP’s autumn relaunch that we see some radicalism after a summer of reflection. Turning their moratorium on fracking into an outright ban would surely win them votes. Couple this with investment and training in renewables technology and everyone’s a winner.

Jim Small


Freedom of movement is not the same as free trade 

I ALWAYS look forward to Michael Fry’s weekly column. We share most of the same political beliefs but he is of course wrong on Brexit.

However, he did write something so eye-watering in his last article that I have to comment (Theresa May must be wary of falling for Trump’s sweet nothings on striking a trade deal, July 11). I quote: “On the one hand the UK still claims for itself its historic role as a free-trading nation (though not in respect of free movement of labour which is an essential part of that role) ... I fear it will be hard for us to find a place as beneficial as the one we are so recklessly abandoning [the EU single market]”.

May I ask where in the blessed pantheon of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Richard Cobden and Friedrich Hayek is any reference to untrammelled international free movement of people being essential to free trade? It is the first I have heard of it!

Did any of these luminaries argue that we have to abandon frontiers to achieve free trade? Is Nafta then a failure because it does not provide for free movement? How about the recent long delayed EU-Canada free trade agreement? I cannot agree with Michael on this point. A wise society will have its own limited (but liberal) immigration laws. I have form on this. My wife and son are immigrants. I myself have been an immigrant for decades of my life and have benefitted enormously from policies such as liberal tourist and business visa systems (USA, Canada, Brazil). I entirely agree with one of Michael’s main themes, which is that we need more immigrants into Scotland.

EU free movement can of course be very good for certain people and certain businesses, but this is to miss its central purpose. You cannot have a unified country without free movement. As Guy Verhofstadt states, the EU is a “weak confederation”. Though Europhiles use weasel words like “project” the EU is a weak chaotic country. I am presently a citizen of the EU. The EU country has other indicia of sovereignty such as a government (the Commission), supreme law, supreme court, a Parliament, a currency, a Central Bank, a flag, an anthem, a common external trade tariff, defence forces, a foreign minister and much else. Looks like a duck? As Macron and Verhofstadt realise, the confederation is unsustainable and there must be a decisive move to outright federation. The UK wisely rejected such a Union on June 23 2016.

As for leaving the greatly-lauded EU single market, Michael should reflect that it currently represents a mere 12 per cent of our (Scottish) exports. This share falls year on year. Additionally, we are living in an era of low tariffs. Even assuming we do no FTA with the EU (unlikely), applicable WTO tariffs average around three to four per cent. The welcome change in exchange rates has already taken out much of the problem.

On the other hand, if an indy Scotland is in the EU and rUK is out then there will be tariffs payable on Scottish-English trade and there will be non-tariff barriers (unless there is a totally frictionless UK-EU FTA, which I do not expect). The rUK represents an export market four times as important to us than the EU. We cannot have it both ways. If being out of the Single Market/Common Tariff Area is massively damaging to our trade with the EU, then being in the EU will be massively damaging to our export trade with r-UK. Note that Scotland and England cannot negotiate their way out of this, as Scotland would be bound by the rules of that other Union, whose government we can never change. Now that scenario is reckless!

William Ross

THE Chancellor claims public-sector workers are paid too much!

Does he include himself? Is he not also a public-sector worker? Are civil servants at all levels included? The military and armed forces? They are all public-sector workers! Perhaps even the royals. Where does it all end?

John Edgar Blackford THE Union of the parliaments was supposed to be union of equals. The inbuilt English members’ majority means that they will always have the final say. We have a talking shop, not a devolved Parliament.

It’s enough to turn you into a SNP voter.

Douglas Thomson
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