As a (long) retired electrical engineer, may I try to bring some common sense into the nuclear debate? Typical of arguments made by the pro-nuclear lobby was a recent statement in your letters columns to the effect that, worldwide, there were only two deaths due to nuclear accidents in the past 20 years. This conveniently covers up the fact that, in 1986, the Chernobyl accident resulted in the deaths of 47 workers, and the World Health Organisation estimated that between 4000 and 9000 deaths probably resulted from the fallout of radiation, which spread thousands of miles, even as far as Scotland.

However, like it or not, the fact is that we now live with this threat even if Scotland goes non-nuclear. Our borders would be no protection from an accident in England or at the many French nuclear plants.

The generation and transmission of electricity in Europe has long been international, each country giving back-up as the need arose. Just as happened a year ago, when the Longannet station was put out of action for a number of weeks, power must have been transmitted from the south to make up for the massive 2.3Gw loss.

If the Scots do not wish new nuclear plants on their soil, we can concentrate on renewables which would allow us, at suitable times, to transmit clean power to the south in exchange for back-up when required.

My main concern is that concentration on new nuclear plants within the UK will prevent speedy development of renewable methods of generation for which Scotland is so well-endowed with wind, tidal, wave and hydro resources.

Archie Young, 28 Royal Crescent, Dunoon.

In his haste to criticise Alex Salmond and the SNP's long-standing policy commitment of phasing out nuclear power generation in Scotland, Alexander McKay (Letters, January 14) describes Professor Roger Crofts as a leading authority on energy supply.

Professor Crofts, CBE, is not an energy authority: his field of expertise is environmental management. As secretary of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, he was, however, involved in the preparation of its review of the issues for Scotland's energy supply and demand between the present and 2050.

Bill Robertson, Inbye, 117 Old Greenock Road, Bishopton.

Neil Craig says there have been only two deaths from nuclear power in the past 20 years. Even though this time-span conveniently omits the deaths caused directly by the explosion at Chernobyl in 1986, many people have since contracted fatal and non-fatal cancers as a result of the radiation it released. The ultimate human toll of the disaster is the subject of much controversy, with estimates and predictions ranging from a few thousand fatalities to hundreds of thousands. Nevertheless, these victims must be included in any statistics for the period, despite numerical uncertainty.

Geraint Bevan, 3e Grovepark Gardens, Glasgow.

Neil Craig tries to perpetuate the myth about the safety of nuclear power (Letters, January 15) but he makes the usual mistake of comparing coal industry deaths with nuclear power station deaths.

This is typical of supporters of the nuclear industry: they are blinded by the science, unable to see past the moonsuits and laboratory environment of the nuclear power station. Do they think that the raw ingredient for nuclear power - uranium - gets delivered once a year down the power station chimney by Father Christmas? If Mr Craig wants to make comparisons, then it should be between deaths in nuclear power stations as against coal-fired stations or between deaths in the uranium mining industry and deaths in the coal-mining industry. Uranium-mining rips up sacred aboriginal land in Australia, poisons the environment and kills workers, their families and others who live in mining communities.

And, of course, when the nuclear industry has an accident, it does it big time. Chernobyl didn't just kill people the day it exploded: it continues to kill people to this day, and who knows when or whether the remaining structures and surrounding area will ever be considered truly safe?

I am delighted that the SNP government in Scotland is showing a determination to ensure that the nuclear industry's involvement in Scotland is brought to an end as soon as possible.

Calum Smith, 109 Baldwin Avenue, Knightswood, Glasgow.