COP26 provided the perfect opportunity for Transport Scotland to review its ferry policy as a contribution to a cleaner world, thus enhancing the laudable Scottish Government decision to allocate £6 million towards Third World sustainable initiatives.

Has an opportunity been lost to review a long-standing, expensive, over-polluting policy in its own backyard?

The current intransigent preference for traditional monohull ferries, now to be powered by two types of complex dual-fuelled systems (allegedly green) is outlined in a recent response from Transport Scotland as the potential preferred vessel for future Scottish ferry provision.

The following issues should be addressed by Transport Scotland and satisfactory responses need to be elicited

• There is no Scottish source for the required gas product (LNG) – it will be tanked from Kent to the as-yet unbuilt harbour storage facilities. How does this square with green initiatives?

• The derisive accolade of a "derelict granny fleet", circulating amongst more enlightened ferry providers worldwide, is a deserved label for CMAL as cheaper, greener solutions are available. How does Transport Scotland reply to this?

• We are constantly told that Transport Scotland analyses "best available data" but the results are not shared with any qualified maritime industry experts who have acknowledged international reputations – nor indeed with the taxpayer.

• The current and open-ended bill (subsidy and capital cost) of around £1 billion and rising, seems to give rise to little concern in government finance committees, although queried by Audit Scotland. How does Transport Scotland justify this?

• There are Scottish-based marine experts with more than 50 years of acknowledged expertise, professorships and international recognition who are deemed to be a nuisance by those who "know best". By way of contrast, the Senior Team Strategy Ferry Development Officer at Transport Scotland has two years' experience in the post and a degree in agriculture.

• Valid west coast resident and ferry committee concerns and waves of well-researched criticism have little impact on Transport Scotland.

All of these factors must raise questions about the overall renewal strategy programme – 80-plus years based on current delivery.

Meanwhile modest wind and waves ensure that the current ageing monohull vessels (deemed reliable by CMAL and Transport Scotland and fit for route purpose) remain tied to a pier.

John Lamont, Dippen, Arran.


SOME letters on these pages surprise me, some annoy me, and some puzzle me. So well done to KM Campbell (Letters, November 17) for his full house: he has surprised, annoyed and puzzled me. Mr Campbell complains about the extensive BBC coverage of “the racism culture in Yorkshire cricket” and claims it’s about “what English team-mates said to one another in the heat of a game”.

That is not the case. It’s about ethnic minority people being in a team, but not part of it. It’s about players of Pakistani heritage being isolated by name-calling and mistreatment. It’s about a young Muslim lad being held down while alcohol is poured down his throat. It’s about people’s careers being ruined and lives made a misery.

Almost every word of Azeem Rafiq’s brave testimony to the House of Commons I recognised from my own experience during 30 years flying with British Airways. I’m white and Scottish, but from an early age I’ve objected to racism and for more than 40 years I’ve had connections that make it personal. How was I supposed to feel, as a junior pilot, when my captain turned to me and said: “I don’t like Indian women, I think they’re dirty”? My wife is British-Indian, our daughter was 15 at the time; and I’m required to work beside this man for eight hours in the close confines of an aircraft cockpit?

I even recognised the extreme hurt Azeem Rafiq felt at the way Yorkshire Cricket Club behaved towards him after he lost his son to stillbirth. I remember asking my manager for a day off after the tragedy at our daughter’s primary school. He had dismissed Dunblane as “a little local difficulty”, so I wasn’t surprised when he turned me down. I appealed to the head of department, and his scribbled response was: “Sorry, not policy.”

So I say to Mr Campbell: racism is still entrenched in many organisations; racism stinks; and I can assure him that racism hurts. I’m retired now but, for the sake of our grandkids, I’ll keep fighting racism till my dying breath. It’s a stain on organisations like Yorkshire Cricket that have allowed it, and it’s a stain on this country that for too long has brushed it under the carpet. Well done to the BBC for dragging it into the sunlight.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.


I ADMIRE KM Campbell’s quiet acceptance of discrimination experienced in Glencoe and London over his surname and ancestry (Letters, November 17), but, with respect, I suggest those similarly lumbered but less resilient consider a change to the ubiquitous “Smith”, welcomed in hotels all over the world, STD clinics, and witness protection schemes.

R Russell Smith, Largs.


AL Cowie (Letters, November 15) doesn’t make plain whether he deprecates or applauds the use of Biblical references, but correspondents who have been telling us at least once a week for several years what they think of Nicola Sturgeon, might contemplate Matt. chapter 6 verse 7: “Use not vain repetitions as the heathen do, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking."

I admit that it might be suspected of regular correspondents in general that they toil not neither do they spin, (Ibid 6; 28), and certainly in general most journalists I’ve known have quite religiously followed the injunction in Ephesians 6; 18 when nipping out for a quick one or two: “Be not drunk with wine, but be filled with the Spirit.”

Robin Dow, Rothesay.