STRUAN Stevenson (“We face a Russian winter – and it could get worse, August 9) fails to explain why energy-rich Scotland is suffering fuel poverty as part of the Union, with consumers paying the highest standing charges in the UK and our renewable industries paying the highest grid connections in Europe.

We are now paying the price for decades of the UK’s failed energy policies particularly when compared to Norway.

Scotland’s North Sea has the potential to become the cheap green-energy hub of Europe. The war in Ukraine has changed the dynamics for all countries and Scotland as a massive energy exporter stands to benefit at for at least the next 25 years - but only as an independent nation.

The International Energy Agency predicts that oil and gas demand will increase until at least 2030 and after that everything depends on whether countries honour their commitments to achieving net-zero emissions by circa 2050.

The proposed Cambo field is estimated to contain over 800 million barrels of oil while Equinor estimates that the Rosebank field, which is less than half the size of Cambo, would account for eight per cent of the UK’s total production of oil and gas.

The Berwick Bank offshore windfarm, located in the outer Firth of Forth, will be one of the largest offshore windfarms in the world, with the capacity to supplying power to more than five million homes – or every home in Scotland twice over.

However, last week Kenny MacAskill MP was lamenting that UK National Grid was directing almost half of its output directly to Blyth in England without any benefit for Scotland.

The economies in Denmark, Norway and Ireland are not forecast to go into recession but to grow over the next few years – while energy-rich Scotland is once again paying the price of being in the Union.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh.


IT seems to be on an almost daily basis that we are told of likely increases on energy costs for the “ average “ home (whatever that is), the latest forecast being for them to rise to over £4,000 next January.

How are these costs broken down ? I recollect in the past that energy bills had a pie-chart showing the various constituents, which today would highlight the level of the green zero levy, which I have heard for the “average” home will be around £800 p.a. next year .

In these times of relatively high inflation, should the pie-charts not be restored so that we know what we are being charged for our non- energy consumption?

Or are the energy companies and/or the Government trying deliberately to disguise that in their obsession with seeking zero omissions by some arbitrarily chosen date, fearing increasingly vocal opposition ?

Alan Fitzpatrick, Dunlop, Ayrshire.


THE opinions expressed by Neil Mackay in his regular columns are almost invariably well balanced and thoughtful, even considering his adherence to the idea that secession from the UK would be a “moderate and pragmatic” solution to Scotland’s constitutional arrangements.

However his latest piece (“Britain is over. It’s finished. Westminster killed it”, August 9) indicates that he has succumbed to the most basic nationalist propaganda.

The nationalists constantly and repetitively blame “Westminster” for all the ills that Scotland suffers. He fails to recognise that it’s not the system of government that is the problem. It’s the people in power that should be replaced.

We are currently being governed by a gang of avaricious, self-serving vulture capitalists who care only to stay in power for their own benefit. The nationalists are the Tories’ “useful idiots” and are a distraction from the real struggles of ordinary people for decent housing, quality education, fair wages and a high-functioning NHS. In Scotland a vote for the incompetent, separatist, nationalist parties is a vote to perpetuate Tory rule in the UK.

James Quinn, Lanark.


I AGREE strongly with Neil Mackay. Truly, what is facing us is unbelievable. Britain is without a government at the moment; Boris is refusing to do anything because, according to him, he has to wait until the new PM is appointed and then it is the new premier’s job.

So, no action to do anything about energy costs for the majority of us. The elite won’t have any problems getting energy, so it doesn’t matter.

I voted against independence in 2014 because I didn’t think the disruption was worth it. Now we have experienced so much disruption since Brexit, the rise of Boris, the pandemic, etc. The Government’s own scientists warned a pandemic was on the way about 12 years ago. The level of incompetence has been incredible; independence is the only way forward.

Margaret Forbes, Blanefield.


THERE was another excellent and prescient article by Iain Macwhirter on Sunday (August 7): “The UK is becoming a poor country – get used to it…or leave”. I agree…let’s leave.

Scotland could do so much better as an independent country than as part of a broken UK. Witness Ireland, as Iain says, and so many other countries. But we still seem to lack the confidence and ambition here in Scotland, with polling still at 50-50 or thereby.

I remember Iain describing Brexit as “A very British form of self-harm”. How true that has turned out to be. Mind you, maybe rather “a very English form of self-harm” might be more accurate, given that Scotland voted so much against Brexit.

It seems so self-evident that Scotland would be better off as an independent country that I remain baffled as to why it is still at 50-50. I have often asked anyone to give a sensible cogent reasoned argument for staying in the UK but I haven’t heard one yet.

Whereas a longer-term, and huge, improvement in Scotland’s fortunes is waiting if enough of us had the ambition and confidence. It’s often said that “Now is not the right time”. Well, there never will be a right time unless we do something, and I would suggest that the right time is almost always now.

George Archibald, West Linton.


MONDAY night’s TV news showed Nicola Sturgeon complaining about Westminster and the cost of living crisis. Once again she was moaning about Scotland not having the same borrowing powers as the UK government and I say, thank goodness for that.

So here’s a suggestion, Nicola: start a fund with the £20 million you have squirrelled away for your pretendy referendum next year and ask Westminster to match it. You could also save money by scrapping your pretendy embassies all over the world. Go on, I dare you.

Ian Balloch, Grangemouth.


ERIC Gardiner (letters, August 8) mentions the availability of “contraband booze” in Scotland.

Four years ago, at a conference involving health-related charities, I spoke with a man who worked for an alcohol addiction support organisation. I asked how much minimum pricing and controlled advertising of alcohol products would help his work.

He replied that they would make no difference at all because the very deprived areas in the north of the city which he covered were “the biggest duty-free area in Europe”.

The availability and cheapness of these alcohol and tobacco products, together with easy access to narcotics, makes the poor health outcomes and greatly reduced life expectancy in these areas sadly inevitable.

Ken Nicholson, Glasgow.


THE Labour position on Brexit is hard to understand. How can we have a “closer working relationship with the E.U.” without at the very least a customs union?

In the case of Northern Ireland, only a customs union of some sort can come near to solving the present contradiction between leaving a market and yet staying in it.

What Labour is suggesting is patching up a bad deal. And, if we are to avoid the unedifying spectacle of long queues and delays at our frontiers, then we have to accept that leaving the club doesn’t come with a free lunch.

I was hoping that Labour would dare to challenge the current orthodoxy of No Surrender. Bending to the wind of the status quo is not the answer. The wind will change. Labour needs to be ahead of it.

Trevor Rigg, Edinburgh.