CURRENTLY there are two different discourses going on in relation to nuclear power with no cross-over ("If Russia turns up the heat, could a nuclear winter follow?", The Herald, August 17).

There is a cosy consensus among UK politicians and commentators that we should have more nuclear power stations and that this is supposed to be environmentally friendly. This message is, of course, actively promoted by commercial interests. Never mind the huge cost of both the build and the decommissioning, the legacy of radioactive waste we are leaving for future generations, the impact of rising water levels and drought on these plants and the long build time.

But the other discourse playing out is the huge vulnerability of nuclear power plants in conflict situations. Both Russia and Ukraine are playing "dare you" in relation to the Zaporizhzhia power plant. The Russians are using it as a base that is too dangerous to attack and Ukraine has been having a few shots at it to frighten the Russians and the rest of Europe in order to get more help. If the worst happens, it is the wind that will determine who suffers most, not state boundaries.

The threat is not just from war situations. While we have careful security measures, risk is always there. In 2017 a member of a far-right apocalyptic group in the US was arrested with weapons on his way to a nuclear power plant. One of those killed in the January 2021 storming of the US Capitol was an employee of a nuclear plant. In 2014 an insider at a Belgium reactor sabotaged one of the plant's turbines, leading to months of shut-down. There are plants on earthquake and tsunami vulnerable areas.

We are not short of low-risk methods for the radical reduction in carbon emissions. We need to challenge those who are promoting high-risk choices,

Isobel Lindsay, Biggar.

• IT is very interesting that Germany, regarded by many as the greenest major country on the planet, has done a complete U-turn and has now adopted a "Ja, bitte" attitude to nuclear power. It has come to terms with reality and put aside fantasy and said "Yes, please" to nuclear power. At UK level, nuclear has been back on the menu for some time.

One of these days, Scotland and its own knee-jerk anti-nuclear Greens and nationalist dinosaur administration will realise it is 2022 and there is an ongoing energy crisis and will smell the coffee also.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.


JOHN Taylor (Letters, August 18) seems to have a nostalgic view of his time working for Strathclyde Regional Council and bemoans a lack of consultation in its demise.

Having also worked for that now-defunct Region I feel he is perhaps only viewing a narrow aspect of its rise and fall. Personally, I recall a senior management which frequently behaved as if it were an army of occupation. Having become inured to constant cycles of internal de-stabilisation, many people like myself were glad to see the Region disappear and were in sympathy with the view of John Major, the then PM, that it was indeed a monstrosity.

Containing about half of Scotland’s population, it is obvious that today’s SNP would have had to eliminate Strathclyde Region anyway as it would have had an influence and strength representing even more of a political threat to Holyrood than it was to Westminster in the 1990s.

I do agree however to an extent with Mr Taylor that in my view the formulaic process of disaggregation on March 31, 1996 was so de-personalised it was heartless as much as inconsiderate. Many loyal and experienced employees were dispatched to a successor authority only to find they were reluctantly accepted as another mouth to feed and occasionally be told dismissively they could "wither on the vine" by way of welcoming aboard the new ship.

Fortunately the passage of time and more awareness of enlightened management processes meant that things got a little better for many until they were eligible for retirement, but the less favourable memories for former employees are often indelible.

Bill Brown, Milngavie.

• I STRUGGLE to see what John Taylor is “correcting” in his letter which refers to my column on how Strathclyde successfully defended the water industry from privatisation (“Our water success should point the way ahead for energy”, The Herald, August 16). However much they may have regretted it later, it is a straightforward fact that the Tories legislated to create the big regions, including Strathclyde, in the Local Government (Scotland) Act of 1973. As I said in my column, this may seem counter-intuitive, but that does not stop it being true.

Brian Wilson, Mangersta, Isle of Lewis.


I’M surprised to learn that any particular difficulty is being experienced in repairing Dunblane Cathedral clock, even though “the mechanism is over a century old” (Letters, August 16). This is no age at all for a turret clock, in which the simple anchor escapement will tolerate quite a bit of wear, which is easily corrected when it fails. The Denison double three-legged system used in the Westminster clock and designed for exceptional accuracy, is very uncommon. Salisbury Cathedral clock is still working after 636 years.

Even so small and rapidly-beating a mechanical movement as that of a good watch lasts well. The International Watch Co, which mostly made movements for “finishers” who would put their own name on the dial, used to run an ad saying “We can’t tell you how long an IWC movement will last, as we’ve only been making them for 147 years.”

Alistair Johnston, who rightly deplores falling standards in English (Letters, August 17) will probably concede that this is sufficiently witty to justify our forgiving the misplacement of “only”. (I trust that I get points for the now rare correct use of the gerund.)

Robin Dow, Rothesay.


THANK you, Alastair Johnston for bringing to the world's attention that the word "Government", like all other collective nouns, requires a singular verb.

I am a Collins-trained proof-reader of 60 years' standing (sitting?) and despair of what is happening to our language.

I secretly proof-read The Herald every day. Nobody knows.

Irene Conway, Giffnock.