YOU report that Gordon Masterton, past president of the Institution of Civil Engineers, deploys two arguments against the idea of building a bridge between Scotland and Ireland ("Road link between Scotland and Ireland branded a bridge too far", The Herald, January 23). I certainly must bow to Professor Masterton’s expertise and accept his first argument that the engineering challenge would be huge and therefore expensive. But I wonder if the second point he makes is a circular argument.

He points out that the proposed routes, either Belfast to Portpatrick, or Antrim to Kintyre, would also require upgrading of roads to Scotland’s central belt – another huge expense – and the money could be better used elsewhere, for example in extending HS2 to Scotland.

But it is precisely because the west of Scotland’s road system is so wretched, and the west of Scotland has been underdeveloped ever since the Highland clearances, that the idea of opening up a direct link to Ireland is so wonderful. You only need to look at that extraordinary picture of a gridlocked A82 on the front page of Monday’s Herald ("Slow going in the snow", The Herald, January 22) to get a sense of this. All my life, the A82, the main route north-west out of Glasgow, dwindled to a single track road at Pulpit Rock by Loch Lomond. Imagine if the M1 dwindled to one lane with a traffic light at Watford, and Westminster left it like that for 50 years. Back at Loch Lomond, hang in there, keep going, and you will eventually cross a beautiful bridge to Skye, where you can’t find accommodation, a car park, or a toilet.

My favourite part of Scotland is beguiling Argyll and the Cowal Peninsula’s secret coast. It’s secret because it’s hard to reach and it doesn’t go anywhere. Tighnabruaich has a short season. Right now she is like Brigadoon, in deep hibernation. Argyll is staggeringly beautiful. Surely it would be better to invest here, than to extend HS2. It’s HS2 that’s the white elephant. The sharp suits want to get to the City of London an hour faster. Don’t encourage them.

Let’s open up the Celtic world.

Dr Hamish Maclaren,

1 Grays Loan,



I NOTE that Humza Yousaf, the Transport Secretary, is busy slapping himself on the back over the introduction of average speed cameras on the A90. He talks about the compelling evidence that driver behaviour is being transformed, and certainly the statistics quoted are impressive.

However, this is hardly surprising. If drivers know their speed is being monitored, of course they will try to keep within whatever is the prescribed speed.

Now this would all appear to be very laudable, so long as we remember that speed cameras are dumb machines. All they do is record numbers, and as such they do not detect dangerous driving. For example, someone travelling at 70 mph in a snowstorm will not be picked up by the cameras whereas someone driving at 75 mph on a clear road on a Sunday morning in summer will find themselves targeted.

Another downside of average speed cameras is that they encourage drivers to keep their eyes on the dials instead of the road, and surely this is no better than using a mobile phone at the wheel.

On a personal note I was recently driving on a wide and clear avenue in Glasgow when I had to perform an emergency stop. The reason? Two policemen had come running out from a side street clutching a speed camera and were intent on "getting their man". It did not occur to them that their actions were causing far more danger than my technical speed infringement.

So to conclude; yes, speed cameras have their place but the powers that be should remember that they do have their limitations, and may in certain circumstances actually contribute to an accident.

Thomas Masson,

15 Langton Place,

Newton Mearns.

I NOTE Alison Masterton's letter (January 23) in which she wrote of the potholes on the A78 from Inverkip to Largs. It isn't just me, then.

I understand the Largs-Skelmorlie road is currently being considered as a training/test drive route for the possible new replacement of the UK Armed Forces' Challenger tanks.

I wish the drivers well.

Archie Burleigh,