YOUR article on coastal erosion is timely ("Scotland is ‘not ready to tackle’ crumbling coast crisis", The Herald, January 27). Perhaps the nub of the problem is how to finance the necessary works to maintain Scotland’s estimated 386 harbours. It has not proved effective to leave this responsibility with cash-strapped local authorities. There is clearly a need for the Scottish Government to commission a national survey and damage assessment with estimated costs of repair for all our harbours to consider how best to finance their future maintenance and which should be prioritised.

This work needs to have input from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) on likely rainfall and flooding events affecting our river valleys and estuaries. Additionally, the Geological Survey experts on coastal erosion and oceanographers working on likely changes in the Gulf Stream and other currents in light of warming seas and rising sea levels are needed to combine their findings from offshore with the onshore projections.

Of special consideration should be the Forth, Clyde and Tay estuaries as centres of population, none of which have comprehensive sea defences and flood prevention measures in place.

Bringing together these relevant organisations and expertise to conduct this work has to be a central, not a local government responsibility. Given the rapid changes now being observed this work should be commenced without delay so remedial works can be commenced without delay before ever more costly damage is inflicted on our vital ports and harbours infrastructure.

Elizabeth Marshall, Edinburgh EH6.

I LOVED Ian Gray's letter (January 29) on the "environment police". I'm one of the " thousands of others" in the same age-group and in the same (leaking) boat. However, I have a few perks, which do not include the expected perky pension.

The bus service, handily at the top of my road, is terrific and while my husband is from the "put on another jumper" school when it comes to heating I am not. (Tip: try coughing when you click up the thermostat. Works for me.) Our small semi-bungalow is old too and has insulation, double glazing, modern, efficient boiler; the works. However, my old bones need a bit of heat to do their job and for me now comfort is the thing. Selfish? maybe. Sorry? no. I have my stove and heat it.

It gets very wearisome being "the problem". In fact, on a bad day I sometimes feel I could be losing the will to live. But on second thoughts, I might just try to hang on in a bit longer. So there.

Patricia Allison, Glasgow G46.