ONCE again Vicky Allan has used her column to highlight one the great injustices of today – the overriding generosity of UK and Scottish governments towards private sector energy companies at the expense of the wider public interest ("Is Scotland sleepwalking from Big Oil into Big Wind?", The Herald, January 25). In her references to the recent Common Weal report "ScotWind: Privatising Scotland's Future Again" and other sources, Ms Allan correctly explains how, in the necessary development of wind-based renewable energy resources, we are moving towards "a future in which profit will likely be prioritised over fairness".

Many will agree with her plea for a new system in which community and wider public interest is much more firmly embedded in energy policy before the next phase of offshore wind power development. The Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund, established through North Sea oil revenue taxation, is the perfect example of how a country, our near neighbour, can bring sustained economic benefit to all its citizens and have enormous influence worldwide through the power of its financial investment policies.

More immediately, however, is the need for a fundamental change in Scottish planning policy as it relates to energy developments. It is no longer acceptable for planning approvals to be given for industrial-scale wind farm developments on land. Our renowned Scottish landscapes, famous for their wild beauty and skylines, unmodified since the last Ice Age, are being desecrated by monster turbines well over 100 metres tall to the vertical blade tip. Too much damage has already been done. A planning prohibition needs to be put in place immediately by the Scottish Government to protect tourism, community and outdoor recreation interests.

Any more development of these monster turbines on land is purely commercial greed and entirely unnecessary, now that we know that offshore wind is the future. The success of the recent ScotWind auction is the perfect demonstration of how the future for commercial-scale wind energy development is offshore. Any future onshore wind development should be strictly limited to small-scale projects, based on farmer, crofter or local community initiatives, in which no turbine exceeds 50 metres in height. The monster turbines should all be offshore from now on, where the smooth, laminar flow of wind provides a far more efficient basis for meeting national energy requirements, than is found in the turbulent air flow over land.

No wonder Norway has virtually no monster turbines on land – their governments safeguard the wild landscapes, as well as the economic health of their citizens, and look far out to sea for their future wind energy developments. Scottish ministers need to learn some lessons, very quickly, from their counterparts across the sea.

Dave Morris, Kinross.


I ENJOYED Teddy Jamieson's article ("Should art school gem the Mack be rebuilt?", The Herald, January 27), but comparing unequivocally the Mac, a working art school that must remain so, with Notre Dame, a 12th century cathedral and symbol of France, where a King and Napoleon was crowned; that has more than 10 million visitors a year and where De Gaulle celebrated the liberation of Paris, is utterly bizarre – as is any claim that building regulation exceptions can be made. The Mac was declared a fire risk as soon as it was built. Replication or restoration might be the popular opinion, but it is shared by others who know nothing about building today.

I defer to no one in my appreciation of Mackintosh, he was our finest architect and I believe I probably know more about his work than most, but there are other issues.

Without labouring the point and judging by how quickly the fire took hold and the extent of the spread, had it happened when students were in and the building occupied, people, in my view, would have been killed. Disabled access to the building was abysmal from the front entrance and throughout. Coping for people with disability and providing for them was not part of Mackintosh's remit 120 years ago; it is now. Also, how would they have escaped from the top floors?

Unfortunately, the Reid Building across the road exemplifies for many what a contemporary architecture and a new building means and it scares them. That would scare me too and why the next stage has to be handled with profound sensitivity and respect for Mackintosh. A trust must be set up to specifically handle the future of the building.

Professor Alan Dunlop, Aberfoyle.


REPUBLICANS seem to have a bizarrely childish infatuation with the Irish President, Michael Higgins. Not only does Ian Thomson devote a letter to unctuously fawning over His Poeticness (January 26), but the political pressure group Republic, in its pamphlet "Royal Expenses: Counting the Cost of the Monarchy" swerves away from finances to devote a section to praising Michael Higgins, complete with a full-page photograph of the glorious leader with the caption "the promise of something far more inspiring". If any member of the royal family were described in similar terms republicans would be sneering about "bowing and scraping" – the lack of self-awareness is stunning.

Republicans' downright hero-worship of President Higgins only showcases the hollowness and hypocrisy of republicanism – for all the high-falutin' talk of democratic principle it actually comes down to bedazzling people with individual personalities. President Higgins does not legitimise the concept of a republic, just as republicans would claim that the existence of dictators and strongmen from Kim Jong-Un to Vladimir Putin does not discredit the concept of a republic.

Even leaving the great President Higgins aside, republicans' constant comparisons of the British monarchy to the Irish presidency are strange and self-defeating. On no fewer than than six occasions the Irish president has been installed without a vote – as devotion to democracy goes, the Republic of Ireland is very inconsistent.

Robert Frazer, Dundee.


I WELCOME the move by the Scottish Government to double funding of the multi-million pound Flexible Workforce Development Fund to improve productivity, fill skills gaps, and retrain ("New skills click with Scotland’s workforce", The Herald, January 26 ), and with carefully disguised relief have gently advised my dear partner of many years that it does not apply to acknowledged domestic deficiencies.

I guess she knows by now that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

R Russell Smith, Largs.

Read more: There are so many questions still to be answered on Glasgow School of Art fire