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Purcell is right to fight irrational axing of Glasgow Airport Rail Link

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Steven Purcell, Glasgow City Council leader, deserves full support for his commitment to gain cross-party political consensus for the Glasgow Airport Rail Link, backed by business and commercial and industrial groups who believe this project can be achieved at lower capital costs than quoted by Finance Secretary John Swinney (Row over huge rise in cost of dropped rail link, The Herald, September 19).

Abrupt axing of this promised project, without any prior consultation, appears irrational, given that the SNP Government’s Transport Minister, Stewart Stevenson, strenuously reaffirmed at their September 1 Cabinet meeting in Glasgow) ‘we are committed to the Glasgow Airport Rail Link in time for the 2014 Commonwealth Games’. John Swinney’s contrived excuse, that the increased ‘estimates’ claimed for moving some fuel storage tanks at Glasgow Airport finally tipped the scales against GARL would be treated with derision in any European country with real transport vision.

By contrast, the significant cost of decontaminating toxic chromium wastes in the Rutherglen area was never used as an excuse for scrapping the £700m M74 extension.

In the wider context, GARL butchery can be seen as Stage 2 of this Government’s policy to downgrade and dismantle the benefits of a properly integrated, fully interconnected rail network inherited from predecessor administrations. Stage 1 of this policy, last December, saw the perverse exclusion of Crossrail from the Government’s Strategic Transport Projects Review.

Completing this short ‘missing link’ across central Glasgow aims to fully connect Scotland’s two historically separate rail networks, achieving the social, economic and environmental benefits of direct rail services well beyond the city and its West of Scotland conurbation. Rigorous assessment studies confirmed both Crossrail and GARL as extremely good value for public money. More significant in pursuit of Crossrail and GARL, is that actual experience of new or reopened lines and stations across Scotland consistently demonstrates far higher levels of patronage than initially predicted.

John Swinney maintains he is open to dialogue and compromise and that his Draft Budget proposals are not set in tablets of stone. Hopefully he will now respond to the reasoned case for retention of GARL (and delivery of Crossrail) now being presented to his administration.

K A Sutherland

Bearsden.

 

Scrapping the Glasgow Airport Rail Link (GARL) will reduce Scotland’s international standing. Contrary to Graeme McCormick’s experience (Letters, September 19), most progressive continental cities have, or are developing, airport rail links integrated with the national rail network. In England, Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle and Southampton Airports all have rail links.

However, there is clearly an affordability issue with GARL. Rather than scrapping the whole project, there is surely a case for re-examining the design to identify savings. With the decrease in Glasgow Airport traffic, there is also a case for BAA investigating whether some of the airport car parking capacity could be allocated to a Park+Ride facility. This would alleviate congestion on the busy M8 and provide a major source of traffic for the rail link.

Dr. John McCormick,

Chairman, Scottish Association for

Public Transport,

11 Queens Crescent, Glasgow.

Well done, John Swinney. I can assure readers that very few people who live and commute from near Glasgow Airport have been consulted about the rail link and the travel chaos this would bring. As it is, the M8 is jammed most mornings. Heaven only knows what it would be like if major construction was being carried out. Some people do not want to see this on their backdoor. The old labour administration of Renfrew council has imposed one way traffic systems in both Paisley and Renfrew that have driven away consumers and businesses. The people of Renfrew and Paisley would, I am sure, like to see the return of thriving town centres, good public transport and roads without potholes rather than long term traffic jams and more out of town developments.

Robert McCaw,

Inchinnan, Renfrew.

Despite being a born and bred Glaswegian proud of my native city, I agree with those correspondents who celebrate the cancellation of the £400m Glasgow Airport Rail Link (Letters September 18). Logistically the Garl project was always a second or third-best option, and its promotion was more about civic pride and prestige than providing an efficient and cost-effective transport link. The disgracefully long-delayed Glasgow Crossrail proposal would be a much better and cheaper development, and would bring far greater benefits for the whole of the central Scotland rail network.

I believe that the vast majority of those heading for Glasgow Airport would still have chosen to travel by car or taxi, especially if carrying more than hand luggage.

When the final M74 / M8 link is finally in place forty years late, travelling to the airport by road from outlying areas will be even easier, and I doubt if more than 5% of those flying in or out of Glasgow Airport would have used the now discarded GARL rail link.

Iain A D Mann,

Glasgow.

 

Only way for Megrahi

Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini, ‘deplores’ Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi releasing documents relating to his discontinued appeal, stating that the crown had been ‘ready willing and able’ to argue the case for his continued conviction. Actually, it wasn’t.

The crown had consistently delayed the appeal process to the point where Megrahi would probably not have lived to see the outcome. The crown, in the form of Her Majesty’s government, also consistently refused to release documents which may well have helped Megrahi’s defence. She doesn’t say whether she deplores this.

Despite dropping his appeal, Megrahi has consistently maintained his innocence. Megrahi proved himself ‘ready, willing and able’ to appeal to the point where the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission believed that there may have been a miscarriage of justice. Then his illness intervened.

Perhaps Elish Angiolini, if as Lord Advocate she is at all concerned about the interests of justice, might lend her voice to the calls for a public enquiry on the Lockerbie bombing, with all relevant documents made available without redaction or censorship.

However the government/crown has been consistently ‘unready, unwilling and unable’ to agree to any sort of enquiry.

Megrahi’s actions, while unorthodox, may have been the only way open to him to justify his claims of innocence while being able to die in his own country with his family beside him.

The Lord Advdocate may well deplore this; however the government’s actions in refusing to allow any enquiry to establish the truth of the matter, including its own and American involvement in what appears to be highly questionable evidence, is deserving of far greater condemnation from the Lord Advocate.

Bob Buntin,

Skelmorlie

North Ayrshire.

 

 

Solar power for air-con can’t be a practical option

For a property owner in the USA, or elsewhere, living in regions where air conditioning is necessary for humans to live comfortably indoors, the laws of thermodynamics make it difficult to solve the problem by simply collecting solar power, as suggested by Kerr Magregor (Letters, September 18).

For someone living in a typical detached property with ground area of 10m x 10m and with a height of 7m, the power required to draw down the temperature from 40C to 20C in an hour, would be about 5kW. Allowing a typical 30% efficiency for the refrigeration system and all ancillaries, this rises to 15kW.

To supply this from photo-voltaic solar panels with a collection efficiency of little more than 10%, and given that the solar power at the Earth’s surface at low latitudes is about 200W/m2, it is necessary to have a collection area of 15,000/20=750m2 which is obviously much more than the available area of roof! It would be much more sensible to erect a shade over the entire house, although hurricanes might be a problem.

For cities, however, where high-rise is the norm, supplying power for air-conditioning systems from solar power, will require major infrastructure construction in the deserts, in the form of solar farms. Unfortunately in global terms, there are not enough suitable deserts on the surface of the planet to supply the business-as-usual energy needs of a population, which will be approaching 10 billion by the end of the century. By then, fossil fuels will be beginning to run out, or will be too damaging in climate terms, to continue using.

Alan J Sangster,

Edinburgh.

Missing the piracy point

The good Cap’n John F Dobson seems to miss the point of International Talk Like a Pirate Day (Letters, September 19).

Participants enjoy its light-hearted fun. They don’t embark on a social commentary of banditry off the coast of Somalia.

But perhaps the more pertinent question is: why are we spending billions on nuclear-armed submarines when the world’s navies cannot protect commercial shipping from these relatively lightly- armed bandits who cause such distress?

Perhaps if our government stopped wasting billions on immoral posturing with useless weapons of mass destruction, our navy could be equipped adequately to counter the real pirate menace.

Dr Geraint Bevan,

Glasgow.

 

Would taxpayers get same lenient treatment as climate change protesters?

Climate campaigners Climate Rush dumped horse manure on Jeremy Clarkson’s front lawn in protest against his views on global warming.

Just because these green zealots feel they are on a mission does not put them above the law. The Government is planning that every home must have a slop bucket for food waste and that those who fail to recycle food will be heavily fined. There are fears this scheme will cause health problems and encourage vermin. If there is a taxpayers’ revolt and they all empty their slop buckets at the entrances of Government buildings will they be treated as leniently as Climate Rush?

Clark Cross,

Linlithgow.

There is a crucial inaccuracy in the headline, "Northern Ireland’s only ME Clinic closes down" (The Herald, September18).

This was a clinic, like all the other 12 around the UK, which treats patients with many different kinds of illness, each having different physical and/or psychiatric origins, subsumed under the generic Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, to which people who have Myalgic Encephalomyelitis are also referred.

I don’t think any one of them has ‘ME Clinic’ on the door.

Dr John Greensmith,

ME Free For All.org,

36a North Street,

Downend,

Bristol.

 

Our public services can beat recession without the help of unaccountable ‘global consultancy’ industry

Kafka is clearly alive and well. "Council cuts must be drastic" directs a PwC report (The Herald, September 19) and the letter from the partner in Grant Thornton informs us now is the time for greater innovation. Both items emanate from the global consultancy industry.

Irrespective of whether it comes from one of the "world’s leading accounting firms", it’s global consulting. Perhaps these items are inspired by an unselfish civic responsibility for those in desperate need of public services in Scotland? It would be funny were it not tragic, ironic were it not so catastrophic. The activities of the global consultancy industry, (it’s not a profession) have achieved disproportionately little in over 30 years in their self-seeking quest to make public services more efficient.

Most of the innovation, creativity and applied knowledge they ostensibly provided arose from within public services in the first place.

Global consulting is wholly unaccountable in our democracy for the significant sums spent on their services. The evidence is there for any who care to read it, from parliamentarians to public auditors to practising and successful public service workers.

The public service doesn’t need direction from these "leading firms". How many cuts are needed now as a direct result of the significant ‘take’ from public funds that global consultancy has achieved? How much longer must we endure commissioning global consulting to tell us what we already are working on without their ‘help’? Public services across Scotland and the UK possess the intelligence, passion and courage to combat the recession brought on by recklessness elsewhere. Incidentally, how many of the "world’s leading accounting firms" audited the accounts of the major banks during the years of "irrational exuberance" as ‘true and fair’?

Malcolm Hutchinson,

Edinburgh.

 

AS Scotland faces the first funding cut since devolution, a report by Greenpeace has revealed that the true cost of renewing the Trident nuclear weapons system will total more than £97bn.

It says everything about Labour’s priorities when, just as the Scottish Government faces the wrath of the Chancellor’s spending cuts, the Treasury is set to sink more than £97bn in new nuclear weapons.

And as the Cabinet is recalled in an attempt to consider where spending cuts can be found, none of these Labour Ministers can see the elephant in the room -- there is no more wasteful or unnecessary item of spending than Trident. Throwing money away on these nuclear weapons is exactly the wrong choice.

It makes no sense to squander precious public resources on Trident at a time when the Treasury is imposing cuts on essential frontline services. And the UK Government’s catastrophic financial failure underlines the need for Scotland to have responsibility to run its own affairs -- with the ability to take the decisions needed to reflate the economy and contribute to recovery.

Alex Orr,

Edinburgh.

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