PROFESSOR Ronald MacDonald of Glasgow University featured in your pages on June 21. He called for a new contract with climate change and said: “Governments will have to stimulate the economy by increasing investment in infrastructure.” The greening of the Scottish economy is key and “climate change is the pandemic’s twin”.

Benny Higgins’s Advisory Group on Economic Recovery report to the Scottish Government the next day made 25 recommendations, one of which was “critical investment in the country’s digital infrastructure to improve connectivity, reduce inequalities and build the country’s resilience”. Kate Forbes’s follow-up blueprint for economic recovery proposals to the UK Treasury rendered this as “accelerate major investment in low-carbon initiatives, energy efficiency and digital infrastructure.”

They seem to lose the improve [terrestrial] connectivity emphasis by concentrating on digital infrastructure. I would suggest both are fundamentally important in this time of climate emergency. Modern connectivity between the Central Belt and the Highlands by both road and rail is still lacking.

We must significantly reduce emissions from transport. Green connectivity has been spectacularly improved with five electrified rail routes between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Extending such electrification to the other Scottish cities will take longer. Perth to Inverness and onwards to Aberdeen is still in the single-track “road” with passing places era.

These lines are at capacity. There is no room for any daytime freight trains to or from Keith or Elgin. Moray is the whisky capital of Scotland. Surely a little of the tax revenue could be used to take whisky-related materials in and out by an electrified railway? A sustainable new contract for the climate emergency?

R J Ardern, Inverness.

POLITICIANS are to stop the sale of new petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles. Originally the date was to be 2040, then 2035, but now this will be 2032.

The UK has 37.9 million vehicles. That will make negligible contribution to reducing carbon emissions worldwide since there are 1.2 billion vehicles in the world and 99.99 per cent are petrol/diesel. The UK is responsible for 1.13 per cent of global emissions and China 30%, so how many vehicles are there in China? There are 340 million vehicles in China and growing and China is increasing not reducing emissions. However UK politicians will be able to boast "The UK leads the world and has reduced global emissions by 0.00000000023%". Climate Change medals all round.

Yes the UK will lead the world – to economic oblivion.

Clark Cross, Linlithgow.

No need to damage Lennoxtown’s environment

AS a resident of Morrison Drive in Lennoxtown for more than 20 years I am disappointed in, take issue with and am offended by Kevin McKenna’s article ("Loggerheads in Lennoxtown: Residents at odds over housing plans", June 28,and which unfairly and wrongly accuses residents of being against social housing and rejuvenation of the area. His reference to one un-named, unknown “senior council planner” who is “clearly heard” on an audio recording The Herald apparently has possession of, but which the readers do not have access to, “suggests that if the affordable housing element were to be removed it might have a chance of proceeding” and his reference to one “nearby resident vociferously opposed to the development” suggesting to the architects that perhaps “some bungalows would be acceptable” does not prove or provide accurate testimony that this is the view of the majority of residents. The truth is that most residents are aware of and support the need for social housing and any potential for job creation, but that there are numerous other brown field sites in the area which would be far more effectively utilised and appropriate without damaging the environment, destroying biodiversity, increasing traffic, pollution and scarring the landscape.

Mr McKenna writes: “a Facebook survey organised by the local community council… showed that an incredible 92% of social media respondents opposed the development.” Why does he use the word "incredible"? It is not incredible. This was the actual percentage.

He then writes: “The developers’ survey indicated a clear majority in favour of affordable housing and the increased recreational space envisaged by the development” but there is no exact figure given of this "clear majority" nor is there clarification that the developers’ survey asked these questions in a general context, not in one specific to the woodland site between Morrison Drive and Redhills View. He also writes: “Opponents of the development have cited environmental and bio-diversity concerns. You’re left with the impression that this is some kind of Scottish Serengeti and that Sir David Attenborough might soon be pitching up in the neighbourhood.” As well as using an unwarranted derisive and sneering tone, as a writer he fails to assert the basic requirement of qualifying the use of the "you" in "you’re". As with the use of "we" and "us" in writing, who does he mean? Who is the "you"?

The woodland area the developers seek to destroy, like all woodlands and gardens, should be maintained by the owners. But far from approaching Lennoxtown and being “greeted by a small clump of overgrown woodland which blocks out the hills and one of the most magnificent vistas in west central Scotland”, the substantial woodland is a green and beautiful delight to be greeted by in all seasons and not only does it obscure nothing of the vista beyond, it enhances and adds to it.

Overall, this article is steeped in accusations and statements which avert scrutiny and are unsubstantiated by sound, objective, balanced, clear evidence.

Ilona Wewiorski (With the support of the Morrison Drive Woodland Group), Lennoxtown.

The broadband connection

TOM Gordon’s article “Down to the wire –Fears legal challenge may put brakes on rural rollout” (June 28) starts off as a factual account of the ongoing legal proceedings over the contract to roll out superfast broadband to the north of Scotland. However, by the end it has become a rant against the Scottish Government.

At no point in the article does Mr Gordon point out that telecommunications, including broadband, is a UK Government responsibility. UK Government policy is, in general, to "encourage" telecommunications companies to make the investment in the expectation that they will get enough subscribers to make a return on that investment. Where this is unlikely, for example, in rural areas, they will consider funding the investment. However, they have no objection to other bodies, e.g. the Scottish Government, local authorities, communities, funding investments. Any Scottish Government action is to compensate for the lack of UK Government action.

Mr Gordon quotes Liberal Democrat MP Jamie Stone as saying “rural communities have endured years of delays and excuses on its (SNP) failure to install much-needed digital infrastructure to equip rural areas with quality broadband ... businesses and residents in the north of Scotland deserve much better than this.” Did Mr. Gordon not think it might be appropriate to remind Mr Stone that Alistair Carmichael, as Scottish Secretary, was responsible for implementing the UK Government broadband policy in Scotland from 2010 to 2015 and to ask him what he achieved? A “Scottish Conservative spokesman” is quoted as saying “The SNP talks a good game on broadband for rural areas, but its action has been non-existent.” Did Mr Gordon not think it might be appropriate to remind that spokesman that Messrs. Mundell and Jack have been responsible for implementing the UK Government broadband policy in Scotland since 2015 and to ask him what they achieved?

Douglas Morton, Lanark.

Stick over a stone

I HAVE just belatedly read Ron McKay's Diary in your edition of June 14 and, in particular, his short report "Pass me the Semtex" and must express my disappointment at such a poorly considered account of an issue which is not straightforward, in contrast to the rather biased, uninformed way it was reported.

Racism issues are always emotive and demand accuracy of reporting. However, I do not wish to do Ron's homework for him but suffice to say: the Jim Crow stone is not named after the US segregation laws carrying the same name; it was not "coined" by racist white American sailors; and it is not repeatedly painted, cleaned and repainted, although there has been some defacement from time to time.

Ron's judgmental comment "What is wrong with these people?" is unacceptable. He infers incompetence and racism on some of those involved without having established the full picture. His immediately preceding report "Statuary offence" seems reasonably balanced and researched, so why the prejudicial report on the Jim Crow stone?

Iain MacNaughton, Dunoon.

Reform the NTS

IN a world where sovereignty is repeatedly trampled on, there is a certain reassurance for us Scots that we are not alone in being a territorially-estranged people. Now the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) is taking to TV to effectively appeal for the help of the people of Scotland, whose name it carries with far less authentication than it does the numerous properties up and down the land in its proprietorship. One of these of course is the site of the battle of Bannockburn, the word "battle" often in its historical significance bearing a capital letter B. The site is now subject to prolonged closure, ostensibly because of the current pandemic, and this has again brought the spotlight of controversy on the NTS.

The appointment of an outspoken opponent of an independent Scotland, Neil Oliver, as NTS president in 2017 sparked a spate of resignations from this body, and has effectively illuminated for many people the traditional role of the NTS, which in the glare of such controversies has been seen as a pillar of the establishment rather than a means of showcasing Scotland's past through its buildings and land use.

In the many instances of Scotland being sold to highest bidders for chunks of its territory, echoes of The Clearances come loud and clear, and the same kind of echoes can be heard in this appeal for funding from an organisation that badly needs reforming into a body that will better embody the history of the people of Scotland.

Ian Johnstone, Peterhead.