YOU report that the Government aims to reduce the impact from agricultural pollution from 7MtCO2e in 2020 to 5.3MtCO2 by 2032 ("Emissions target beyond reach without cutting back red meat", The Herald, February 13). This will never happen while the Cabinet Secretary responsible for the rural economy, Fergus Ewing, insists that farming should carry on as before, with minimum effort to respond to the scientific evidence on the impending environmental catastrophe. Your article indicates that he has “no intention of reducing the amount of meat produced and consumed in Scotland”. This suggests a minister out of touch with reality.

Agriculture, in theory, is better placed than any other sector to respond to the climate change challenge. No other sector is so dependent on public funding subsidy but also so resistant to the sort of regulation that other sectors take for granted. On the other hand, if regulations and subsidy are changed, farmers will immediately modify their plans. Any government can, through the regulatory and incentive process, persuade farmers to change their cropping patterns and livestock rearing by the following season.

We need new ideas at the highest government level. Every farmer requires help to become a real steward of the earth, an ecological restorer, as well as a producer of food and fuel. The simplest way to achieve this is for all future subsidy to be directed towards environmental objectives of which carbon capture and biodiversity protection are of prime importance. In the lowlands all field margins should be expanded to provide habitats for wildflowers, trees and shrubs. The resilience of nature will ensure that, in the absence of cultivation, artificial fertilisers and pesticides, expanded field margins will provide essential space for insects, birds and mammals, as well as for public access and enjoyment. Wide margins will also allow for extensive tree planting, using better growing conditions than in more hostile upland areas. Beyond the margins farmers can continue with intensive cropping and livestock rearing, without subsidy, making their own decisions on what the market place requires.

In the uplands farming subsidy should be focused on woodland development along burns and rivers with stock fencing, as necessary, to exclude sheep and cattle. Quite apart from climate change and biodiversity needs, this woodland development is also essential to mitigate the impacts of downstream flooding.

Environmentally-sensitive farming has been pioneered across the UK since the 1980s. Scotland can become the leading European nation in putting environmental considerations into all land use, from seashore to summit. Now, as we say goodbye to the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy, we have a golden opportunity to build real environmental objectives into every farm plan. Mr Ewing needs to take his head out of the sand and tell us how to achieve this.

Dave Morris, Kinross.


I WRITE to correct inaccuracies in the article by Kevin McKenna where he attempts to assert that the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority does not take its responsibilities for nature and climate action seriously ("Why have we hung a large For Sale sign round Loch Lomond?", The Herald, February 15). While letting your readers believe that we are currently "cheering on" new proposals by Flamingo Land at Balloch, Mr McKenna omits to point out that officers recommended refusal of the previous application on a range of environmental grounds before it was withdrawn by the applicants. If there is to be a further application officers will assess it with similar rigour as before, which is entirely contrary to the insinuation in the article that the National Park Authority is "assisting" with new proposals.

The parallels drawn with the much smaller Hunter Foundation application being on "the last undeveloped stretch" of the southern shoreline is similarly misleading given the application was for discrete buildings within the formal grounds of Ross Priory. The recent response from the Scottish Government has confirmed that national park authority officers were correct in concluding that an Environmental Impact Assessment was not required for the proposed site at Ross Priory and it has not been "called in" as the article states. The park authority is fully committed to delivering nature-based solutions to the climate emergency and protecting our precious nature. However, that does not preclude sensitive and sustainable developments that will be needed to support our economic recovery.

Gordon Watson, Chief Executive, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority, Balloch.


A BIT older than the president of the Tokyo Olympics organising committee who resigned after saying that “women talk too much”, and with no position from which to step down, I join correspondent James Martin (Letters, February 15), and bravely share my experience has been that, generally speaking, women are generally speaking.

R Russell Smith, Largs.


DAVID Leask asks why we are "getting the needle" over whether it’s a "jag" or a "jab" when we get the Covid vaccine ("Why are we getting the needle over whether it’s a ‘jag’ or ‘jab’?", The Herald, February 15).

He finds that in Scotland many cannot agree on what to call the prick from the injection. For me the matter is easily settled. When I was a child I do not ever remember being stung by a "jabby nettle".

Jim Sheehan, Bridge of Allan.