To remove any mystique about nuclear power, it is an unnatural, highly dangerous and highly expensive way of boiling vast amounts of water. It utilises the ultimate non-renewable (grade-A uranium), of which the world had very limited reserves of around 20 years at best estimates. With China and India, in particular, and other countries intending to commission up to 100 new nuclear power stations in the near future, these reserves will shrink at an increasing rate and we will then be in an era of extracting uranium from low-grade ore at increasing cost and then move on to other, even more technically challenging and expensive, ways of preparing other materials for the nuclear process.

In the interim, we will be producing more and more toxic nuclear waste which we still have no idea how to deal with except bury in "safe" pits. There are, of course, no safe ways of burying nuclear waste, unless we can guarantee no earthquakes or other natural occurrences over which we have no control. Perhaps we could shoot it into space.

For much of my lifetime, all this has been perfectly understood by the Labour Party, particularly in Scotland. However, the umbilical ties that connect Labour in Scotland to Labour in London for funding and thinking are forcing it into an unwilling somersault that would be funny were it not so sad.

Generating electricity by nuclear power is the ultimate political quick fix. Future generations will pick up the bill for cheap and wrong decisions taken today. While there is an impending power crisis in the south of England owing to long-term incompetence by successive governments which militates towards the nuclear quick fix, no such imperative faces Scotland.

Whenever I read apparently informed correspondents using the obvious limitations of wind power to promote nuclear power, I know I am involved in a dishonest conversation. No serious person is suggesting that wind power could provide anything other than useful and fairly modest supplementation in percentage to other methods of generating power - but significant nevertheless in an array of other green methods of supplying us with constant and reliable power. The proposed Severn barrage would provide as much generation as several nuclear power stations. The potential of the Pentland Firth dwarfs this.

We have clean coal technology, tidal power and wave generation in its infancy, biomass, solar power and hydro power, and increasingly sophisticated means of storing the products of all of these and others. There is a hydro-electric station near me which isn't in use much of the time as we are already exporting surplus power to England, so no disaster awaits us if we steadily reduce our need for nuclear generation.

We should be looking at ways of encouraging localised generation by any of the above methods which produces power close to its source of consumption and sends surpluses to a national grid and which removes the need for hundreds of miles of leaking transmission.

Government subsidy to encourage this would be a far better bet than the monumental sums poured as subsidy into the nuclear industry. The SNP government is absolutely right energetically to follow this route.

David McEwan Hill, 1 Tom Nan Ragh, Dalinlongart, Sandbank, Argyll.

Professor Roger Crofts, a leading authority on energy supply, has described Alex Salmond's arguments in the nuclear power debate as being "disingenuous". For the non-expert, this translates roughly as "absurd".

What is more disturbing, though, is that Mr Salmond and the SNP are quite prepared to continue their blindfolded, dogmatic approach to the problem by dismissing before starting what is, in effect, the only answer. Dogma should not be on the agenda of any government.

Of course, the only people to suffer should the SNP's plans go ahead would be the people of Scotland. And Mr Salmond and his cronies are well aware that the certain energy shortage that would occur, should his party's policies be implemented, would be covered by power generated in other parts of this island.

It is time the needs of present and future generations were put before dogma. The energy needs of the people of this country are infinitely more important than attempting to gain a cheap vote.

Alexander McKay, 8/7 New Cut Rigg, Edinburgh.