IN 2017, John Swinney, Deputy First Minister with responsibility for Resilience, wrote that he was "proud to be part of a Scottish Government that has overseen world-class responses to various challenges and emergencies since 2007. However, there is no room for complacency. We continue to face many hazards and threats, from the vagaries of the Scottish weather, to disruptions arising from volcanoes or energy supply issues, and the ever-present danger posed by terrorism". No mention of health or pandemic.

Preparing Scotland for emergencies is underpinned by the principal legislation involved, the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (the Act) and the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (Contingency Planning) (Scotland) Regulations 2005 (the Regulations), as amended in the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (Contingency Planning)(Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2013 and the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 (Amendment of List of Responders) (Scotland) Order 2021.

Against this background, it seems odd that the Scottish Covid-19 inquiry established to investigate the Covid-19 pandemic in Scotland and to establish the facts about the devolved response to the Covid-19 pandemic makes no attempt to study Scotland's preparedness, or lack of, for the pandemic ("Covid inquiry chairman vows to focus on human impact of virus pandemic", The Herald, March 16).

I had cause, in February 2020, to review the contingency plans for loss of energy supplies. Reading several council resilience plans, I found none that had any content in the section headed Pandemics (or similar). Those plans are now buried and beyond my search abilities, but throughout Scottish resilience planning there were marked omissions.

There is still nothing in Stirling Council's 2023 plans for emergency planning and preparedness to cover pandemics.

When the risk from volcanoes is more worrying than a pandemic, then we do seem to have our priorities wrong.

The Scottish Covid-19 inquiry should not ignore why it all went wrong from the start.

William Douglas, Balfron.


JEREMY Hunt made a statement in his Budget which appears to have attracted little attention in the media.

His statement that the UK Government would launch a Great British Nuclear scheme to “bring down costs”("Millions facing energy bill hardship despite changes in the Budget", The Herald, March 16) is great news because it means that the Government through Ofgem intends to decouple the cost of electricity generation from the cost of gas and coal, as nuclear power generation costs are about half that of gas.

Hopefully it will also include a separate pricing structure for different parts of the UK so that the members of our community who live in the coldest parts of the UK with the highest energy costs and where more than 95 per cent of electricity generation is not from gas, or even from nuclear, can look forward to electricity costs of about 25% of the present cost.

Well done Mr Hunt, it’s time we had sense applied to our electricity costs to reflect the actual generation costs and reduce the stupid and excessive profits of our wholesale energy suppliers.

I wonder if he has consulted with his fellow ministers who have shares in the energy companies, as they are unlikely to be happy with a reduction to their dividend payments.

Iain McIntyre, Sauchie.


JEREMY Hunt wishes to re-classify nuclear power as "environmentally sustainable" so it will enjoy the same support as renewable energy.

Nuclear is neither green nor sustainable. Uranium is a finite resource, and though it is more energy-efficient than fossil fuels, it has been mined, transported across the world and, worst of all, produces a product so dangerous that is has to be not only disposed of and stored very carefully but monitored over hundreds of years, all at enormous cost.

And this is "environmentally sustainable"?

But why do we continue to talk about renewables solely in terms of solar and wind? We are lucky in the British Isles to be surrounded by water. We have enormous potential to develop tidal and wave energy which is as good as constant, answering all the concerns about base energy. A lot cheaper and quicker than nuclear.

To the sceptics and nay-sayers, while renewable energy itself is not cost-free, the "fuel" that produces it is free.

Where is the clear thinking? Where is the vision?

Trevor Rigg, Edinburgh.


ON attempting to post a letter today (March 17) I was informed at the Post Office that the stamp I had affixed was invalid; after centuries without them, letters apparently now require a QR code in order to reach their destination. The very affable chap behind the counter regretted to inform me that neither could he exchange my outdated stamps for new ones; the Post Office no longer offers this service. He suggested (without irony) that I post them to the Royal Mail, and directed me to their website.

How have we as a society let ourselves become so beholden to the internet? Provision of basic services should not be reliant on it. In the space of 25 years we have seemingly sleepwalked into a situation where its absence could have catastrophic effects on our society's ability to function. Not to mention the multitude of people who, either through circumstance or individual choice, are unable to access it.

Nick Ruane, Edinburgh.

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APOLOGIES to Craig Williams regarding his article “Taggart goes highbrow as star’s archive sparks hunt for academic” (The Herald, March 17), but was Taggart not always a bit highbrow, especially in Mark McManus’s time?

For example, in one of the earlier three-part stories, Murder in Season, the chief suspect was an opera singer whose celebrity recital Jean Taggart made poor Jim attend. Again in a later story, "Angel Eyes", the victim was a cellist in a classical chamber orchestra. One of the classic Taggart episodes, Gingerbread, retold the story of Hansel and Gretel, while another, Dead Man’s Chest, that of Treasure Island.

Why did so many viewers, and some reviewers, convince themselves they were watching a "gritty Glasgow cop drama"?

Search me.

Robert Love, Glasgow.


AS a life-long enjoyer of Latin-based humour (Letters, passim), it has greatly disappointed me that Aer Lingus's advertising agency never managed to persuade it to use the advertising slogan "Sic transit Gloria Hunniford".

Ken Nicolson, Glasgow.