IN your report of attitudes to low emission zones ("Just one in four motorists back Low Emission Zone", The Herald, September 5), the words that jump out are "enforcement", "fine" and "penalty charges". This points to the biggest problem with the scheme: the perception that driving a non-compliant vehicle in the zone is some sort of criminal act, and if you get caught you will be punished.

The whole thing would surely be more acceptable if the charge was presented, not as a punishment, but as a simple service charge: not so very different from a bridge toll or a fee for parking in a residents-only zone. Instead of having to pay £60 if you get caught, escalating to £480 for repeat offences, drivers should be able to buy a permit that would allow them to circulate freely within the zone, with no criminality implied.

The fee should still be high enough to encourage switching to cleaner vehicles, but not so high as to be ruinous for those drivers who, for whatever reason, are unable to make the switch. Users should be able to buy a permit, either in advance or within a 72-hour window, with payment being made online, by phone or at a "PayPoint" shop, in much the same way that motorists in London pay the congestion charge.

For businesses, the advantage would be a measure of certainty: they would know in advance how much the LEZ is likely to cost them, and they would be able to budget accordingly. The local authority would save the cost of issuing penalty notices and the follow-up court action (except in the case of motorists who deliberately evade the charge). It's true that the net income generated for the local authority would fall, but surely the whole point is to discourage polluting vehicles in city streets, not to raise funds for local councils.

Going further, the scheme would be even more acceptable if it was announced at the outset that it would have a limited life. After all, the number of non-compliant vehicles is already falling, and will continue to do so as old cars and vans are replaced with newer, cleaner models. It could be that in, say, 10 years from now, the number of polluting vehicles will be so low as to make the scheme unnecessary.

For now, there's no doubt that LEZs are needed. They will play an essential role in tackling the air pollution that is blighting our towns and cities. But, if they are to work, the present system, with its implications of criminality and wrong-doing, must change. It's probably too late for Glasgow to make that change, but it's something that other Scottish cities should keep in mind.

Mike Lewis, Edinburgh.

• IT is time this crazy LEZ agenda was halted before we are all ruined.

Improve the roads and clear the traffic jams and restrictions: that is how to improve air quality.

Council plans are pointless until Russia and China comply.

David S Fraser, Stornoway.

Read more: The state of Edinburgh Airport shows the folly of dismantling BAA

Flaws should have been obvious

HAVE any readers with DIY skills ever come across Celcon/Thermalite blocks on any home projects? If you had occasion to fix a shelf bracket to them, or to cut a channel in them for pipework or wiring, you would realise straight away how lightweight and fragile the blocks are. I cannot believe that any engineer or architect would specify their use as structural by the mere addition of steelwork within their construction.

Reinforcing bars on their own flex and bend, and Celcon/Thermalite blocks cut like butter; just ask any bricklayer his preference of building blocks, handsaw in lieu of Stihl saw, or bolster and heavy hammer. I am also sure that many a karate exponent will have used them in their demonstrations of strength in splitting one.

I would also have expected that public buildings would have records of building plans and material specifications on file, rather than having to arrange physical inspections ("Yousaf admits investigations into collapse-prone concrete ‘could take months’", The Herald, September 5). On saying that last part, nowadays specification and actual usage can be poles apart, so checking would be wise in any case unless Raac had been specified in the first place.

George Dale, Beith.

Significant absence

DID you watch the TV series Dan and Helen's Pennine Adventures? It had fun, adventure and delightful English scenery at its best. What was missing? Not a single wind turbine or electric pylon in sight.

Ioan Richard, Swansea.

A call to interaction

WHY is it the more sophisticated we have become the less efficient we are? The pinnacle of perfection (always a worthy pursuit) is now the preserve of amazing individuals like Andy Murray and his ilk.

Excellence in mediocrity is now the gold standard in politics and those other agencies that are designed to regulate our lives and sustain a viable existence for all of us.

Perhaps if we returned to a time where people interacted with people rather than electronically we might just return to a place where systems work and people really matter.

Computers and their associated electronic wizardry are obviously an essential part of where we are but must always be the servant and never the master.

Dan Edgar, Rothesay.

Jubilantly bonkers

ONE day last week I struggled to centre myself, find some inner space and stay in the present in preparation for my daily “mindfulness" session (aka my afternoon nap).

No matter how hard I tried random thoughts just entered my mind.

For example, isn’t it quite a coincidence that my three favourite cinema superheroes all share the same initials (James Bond, Jason Bourne and Jack Bauer)? It went further: I have just read a book (Snow) by John Banville and am about to start one by Julian Barnes. As a bit of a music geek one of my favourite artists is Joe Bonamassa. My nightcap could be a sip of J&B and breakfast the next morning could be toast with jam and - you’ve guessed it - butter.

I became concerned; had mindfulness become simply mindless? Was it the early(ish)onset of something sinister? Then as the management consultants say I had a “light bulb moment”. This is exactly what mindfulness is supposed to do.

For about an hour I did not once think about climate hysteria, inflation, immigration, the cost of living crisis, the Covid lockdown catastrophe, or Dundee United’s chances of bouncing back in to the Premiership I emerged (awoke) revitalised and ready to take on the world once again. Just bonza (oops).

Keith Swinley, Ayr.