JOHN Swinney's huge cuts to public services serves as a warning. Money does not grow on trees. Mr Swinney has gone even further by cutting a large chunk of NHS cash whilst telling the nurses there is no more money for the pay deal they have just rejected. This is precisely the type of scenario that would be played out if the SNP and Greens persuade Scots that independence will be the answer to all ills.

Finance really matters yet the SNP and Greens offer of an independence referendum goes nowhere in explaining just how to keep Scotland running whilst divorcing the UK. No matter how much money they claim will be available without Westminster it will never be enough. Borrowing under these circumstances will be unlikely or impossible and the European Union will be looking the other way.

Mr Swinney's cuts serve as a timely reminder of the all-important question they would rather you did not ask. The nationalists plans always paint a bright impressionist picture. But the picture needs to be far more realistic. The outlook is dismal.

Dr Gerald Edwards, Glasgow.


OVER the last few years our weekend reading seems to have been dominated by Nicola Sturgeon's obsessive drive towards another independence referendum. Now, however, we are facing another potential rival for the top spot, namely the ongoing saga of Government waste and incompetence over the building of two Calmac ferries in Port Glasgow.

No one would argue with the fact that "greener" transport is the way forward but it seems that the current liquefied natural gas-powered options being built at Ferguson Marine are a step too far at this time of required urgent ferry replacements. The suggestion that the Glen Sannox and its sister ship will not initially, if ever, be able to run on LNG despite millions being spent on piers to accommodate them and the acceptance that diesel-electric power seems to be the only option in the short term at least, underlines the mess and wastefulness surrounding the whole project.

It's all very well for the Government to try to deflect any blame onto the quangos supervising the operation of our transport network but at the end of the day the public elect politicians to put in place efficient public services and the buck stops there.

Bob MacDougall, Kippen.


READING the opinion of Liz Smith, the Scottish Conservatives’ finance and economy spokeswoman, on Rishi Sunak ("Scottish Tories admit to dark days for party ... but view Sunak as their saviour, October 30) has prompted me to question her view that the new unelected Prime Minister has integrity. It is very quickly forgotten that he accepted his wife’s non dom status to allow them as a family to avoid paying the tax they should be liable for in this country. Is it the case that only the less well-off have to pay tax to the appropriate level or face the consequences or have I missed something?

Jeanette Roscoe, Perthshire.


THE criticism of the Scottish Government's use of "consultants" made by Bob MacDougall (Letters, October 30) is justified, even if rather limited. The excessive use of consultants by national and local government has become just one effect of a post-Thatcher obsession with outsourcing.

Whether the topic is transport, the health service, education, housing, an engineering project or anything else, large sums are paid to members of an international clique of self-opinionated book keepers.

Despite the fact that various financial regulators have had to impose large fines on some of these organisations in the recent past, no-one seems to challenge the assumption that they are universally reliable.

It would be interesting to know how many of their expensive consultations and reports have ever yielded any results of social value, as opposed to presenting every decision in terms of the potential for someone to make profit from from the nation's resources.

Peter Dryburgh, Edinburgh.


HOW do penniless people finance expensive journeys of migration to another country? Three hundred years ago, penniless Britons became indentured servants of merchants and gentlemen to pay their way to the New World. Today young Albanian men and women are making equivalent arrangements with brutal gangsters.

All of this makes the fact that more than10,000 young Albanian males have crossed the Channel in dinghies this year very concerning. No doubt most of those young men have not thought through their deals with the devil, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that they will end up involved in organised crime, whether growing cannabis, as thugs, or in some other illegal activity.

Many of the female migrants face a worse fate of modern slavery in the sex trade.

A moment’s thought would tell you that we cannot legalise this vast movement of people to the UK, because the demand is effectively infinite, and because our infrastructure and public services are failing to cope with the people already living here.

The Home Secretary Suella Braverman is right to describe the tens of thousands crossing the Channel in dinghies as an invasion, and to seek to stop them coming.

Otto Inglis, Crossgates, Fife.


CLARK Cross (Letters, October 30) fails to grasp that the transition to hydrogen is dependent on the availability of cheap electricity provided by the same wind turbines he is eager to criticise. He also criticises their effect on wildlife when overpopulation and global warming have more than halved wildlife populations.

A report from the Scottish Government states that in 2021 Scotland generated 27.2TWh of renewable electricity, which although slightly down from the previous year is still sufficient to power every house in Scotland for three years.

BEIS, which produces information for the UK, states in the most recent report released in 2020, that the cost of producing electricity from renewable sources costs between £44/MWh and £57/MWh depending on whether it is from solar PV, which is the cheapest and offshore wind, which is the most expensive, although this is reducing in cost.

The cost using nuclear was £102/MWh, and the cost using gas was £85/MWh. This will have increased to about £200/MWh as the cost of wholesale gas is now around four times higher than at the start of 2021.

As Scotland produced three times as much electricity as it needed from renewable sources according to the Q4 2021 report, the main base load should come from renewable sources which are the cheapest and the backup supply for periods of low wind generation should be provided from a source that can be switched on and off at short notice. The rapid response from gas generation can be seen clearly at the website and future backup electricity generation could be from green hydrogen produced and stored close to the power station.

I do agree with Mr Cross about paying wind farm generators when they turn them off, however this surplus electricity will increasingly be used to generate green hydrogen for transport and backup electricity generation.

It may be possible to supplement domestic gas supply using green hydrogen although that may require some technical adjustment to the distribution pipework, as using hydrogen presents problems.

These measures will significantly reduce the 2020 level of 70% natural gas for overall energy use in Scotland, some of which will have been used for electricity generation.

The main reason energy prices are so high is because everything is tied to the world price of gas and the Government could resolve some of the cost issues, for electricity at least, by decoupling it from the most expensive way used to produce it.

At the time of writing (October 30) in Scotland 76.4% of our electricity is being generated by wind turbines and none is being produced by gas. Even in England only 30.1% of electricity is being generated by gas and yet we pay for the electricity as though it is all generated by gas which is four times that of generating it from renewables.

Decoupling the cost of electricity from gas would also drive the move away from hydrocarbons and reduce the cost of energy for off grid areas of Scotland where energy costs are 66% higher than in London.

Iain McIntyre, Sauchie.


CLARK Cross clearly has not been paying due attention to the discussion on the potential for hydrogen to solve the problem of what to do with the electricity generated by wind farms at time of low demand. There have been suggestions that the excess wind electricity produced in the islands could give us hydrogen to power the ferries of the future but what is not in dispute it that hydrogen production needs a lot of electricity. To produce clean, green hydrogen we will need more, not fewer, wind generators and other relatively clean electricity sources. Tidal generation is also likely to give us electricity at times of low demand and once again hydrogen production might be the only alternative to waste.

I have yet to meet anybody who thinks that wind farms are pretty. There is one near Invergarry that can be seen from most of the hills north of Ben Nevis and it does not enhance the view. Hydro, likewise, comes at a cost. One of Lochaber’s best kayaking rivers, the Arkaig, has been diminished by a generator on its best rapid. It helps to charge my electric car so really I can’t complain about spoiled sport. Everything has a downside.

Perhaps we need to learn to love wind farms as an alternative to our causing even more drought and famine in the Horn of Africa, floods in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Britain or wildfires in Europe and more. Just don’t expect cheap, easy, problem-free fixes for climate change.

Ronald Cameron, Banavie.