HOW good to see, at last, a dose of reality on electric vehicles ("Politicians tell us electric cars will save planet but truth is more complicated", The Herald, January 4).

As Bjorn Lomberg's article points out, electric cars can greatly reduce air pollution at the point of use. That's a very worthwhile benefit, especially in our towns and cities. But we still need to generate the electricity to run them, and for the foreseeable future that can only mean burning more fossil fuels, especially natural gas.

Renewable energy sources are increasing, but they cannot meet all our demands for electricity. Consider that the best day ever for renewables was in September 2019, when wind, solar, bioenergy and tidal together met 85 per cent of electricity demand. But that was a single day in unusually favourable conditions. Overall, renewables still only account for around 36% of energy production (according to the National Grid).

Of course, electric cars are cheaper to run than petrol and diesel vehicles. But that is mainly down to the huge subsidies that they enjoy from not paying fuel duty, VAT on fuel, the full rate of tax on company cars and (until 2025) vehicle excise duty. According to the RAC, the total cost of those subsidies is approaching £5 billion a year. That's a cost that we will all have to pay through higher general taxation.

And while the owners of e-vehicles enjoy the benefits, it is society as a whole that will continue to suffer the disadvantages. Electric cars will do nothing to reduce traffic congestion; they will still require vast amounts of land for roads and parking; they will continue to cause wear and tear to road surfaces (more so than petrol and diesel cars simply because they are heavier); and, worst of all, they will contribute their share of the 27,000 road deaths and serious injuries in the UK each year.

So by all means, let's encourage electric vehicles as a way of reducing air pollution. But let's stop kidding ourselves that they are somehow going to save the planet.
Mike Lewis, Edinburgh

Hopeful signs on birds of prey

YOU rightly highlight the impact of wind farms on some protected bird species ("Onshore turbines are threat to endangered Scots birds of prey", The Herald, January 3).

As the government agency NatureScot says, assessing the extent of that risk is challenging, but it is encouraging that those who develop and manage wind farms say they are doing what they can to mitigate the risks of collisions with wild birds. Some bird deaths are, however, inevitable, and birds of prey seem to be especially vulnerable.

It is essential that the status of Scotland’s birds of prey are kept under close scrutiny and that the ongoing impact of wind turbines are monitored closely. It is also notable – and very encouraging – that throughout 2022 there were no new publicised incidents of illegal killing of birds of prey linked to upland land management in Scotland.
Ross Ewing, Director of Moorland, Scottish Land & Estates, Musselburgh

Glasgow must act on recycling

I APPLAUD wholeheartedly the campaign by the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland (APRS) to clear up Scotland's countryside litter ("Volunteers with bottle wanted to monitor Scots litter menace", The Herald, January 6).

I used to live near Inverness airport where people would drive into the forest next to my home and dump beds, mattresses, wall units and fridges. If they'd only driven a few more miles into the city they would have found the best recycling depot in Scotland at the Longman industrial estate.

But can I find a similar operation in Glasgow? No.

Glasgow has the worst recycling record in Scotland – less than 25% – and it seems to me no efforts are being made by the city council to address the problem.

I live in an apartment block in the city centre where most residents try their best to put the right items in the tiny and completely inadequate recycling blue bins. But the bins are rarely collected so a lot of the cardboard, newspapers and plastic bottles end up in the general waste. And there's no bottle bank.

In the more affluent West End there are bigger bins, and they are on the street. But I suspect much of the possible material for recycling from there ends up in landfill too.

Glasgow has to get its act together. But does the city council have the bottle?
Andy Stenton, Glasgow

Shame on council over potholes

YOUR report on potholes ("Scots drivers ‘missing out on millions’ in pothole payouts", The Herald, January 5) did not surprise me in the least.

Over the past few years I have submitted several claims to Glasgow City Council with virtually no success. They seem quite happy to use the “it was fine when we inspected it” as an excuse when, in one incident, the potholes were still there months after my tyres were damaged. They should be embarrassed with a 0.75% payout rate for damages.

You just need to see the comments in various newspapers and social media forums to realise how bad the issue is.

If Glasgow's roads department (and others in Scotland) think there are no potholes needing urgent repair in Glasgow roads none of those involved in the inspection and repair regime must drive cars. In fact I would suggest dismissing them all in favour of someone who understands the issue so that valid damage claims can be paid out.

I’m not holding my breath waiting on a change in council policy.
Douglas Jardine, Bishopbriggs

Yours inquisitively

R RUSSELL Smith's use of "Yours Truly" as a humorous reference to himself (Letters, January 6) recalls days in business when correspondence, in times past in the form of typed letters, often ended with "Yours sincerely". Should the correspondence become acrimonious, the ending quickly changed to "Yours faithfully".

"Yours truly" came somewhere in between. A notable exception was in dealing with the Inland Revenue, now transmogrified into HMRC, where "Yours faithfully" was the norm.

I wonder why.
David Miller, Milngavie


HeraldScotland:

Letters should not exceed 500 words. We reserve the right to edit submissions.