NORMAN Armstrong, when writing about an extended ferry network (Letters, February 10) harks back to glory days that never existed. The ferry system from Kilchattan to Wemyss Bay stopped in 1955 due to a the collapse of local industry and a lack of passengers. Reinstating the same ferries and pier today under modern standards and employment rights would be prohibitively expensive.

Running a ferry from Largs to Millport would increase the journey time by a factor of four with a greater increase in weather downtime due to the exposed southwest approach. It would require additional ferries to be built as the carriage of domestic supplies and the export of farm produce by a passenger ferry would be unworkable, which, under the current Government-owned CMAL expertise is abjectly unaffordable. Not to mention upgrading the pier and staffing costs.

The solution to the current ferry problem is privatisation and the end of the monopoly of ownership of all the ports, infrastructure and ferries by our Government-owned CMAL. The Gourock-Dunoon vehicle ferry service operated by Calmac to the monopolised CMAL pier on CMAL-owned ferries lost £2 million per annum whilst Western Ferries made £2m profit at the same time. I will not insult the reader by asking them to do the maths. The removal of the Calmac vehicle service allowed Western Ferries to build, affordably, new vessels at Fergusons and on the Mersey and the shorter more frequent service runs like clockwork, even taking the Calmac passengers in adverse weather when the expensive subsidised standby CMAL passenger vessel cannot operate.

In short, root and branch reform of state ownership and incompetence is required to create a modern, fit-for- purpose ferry system. And bicycles should not be the tail wagging the dog, others depend on the ferries for their livelihood and day to day needs.

Peter Wright, West Kilbride.

GOOD to know (Letters, January 6) that Lindsay Jones's electric Renault Zoe car causes no "range anxiety" and saves some money for power.

However, such vehicles are not "green".

Dependency on cobalt for their mechanisms, lithium batteries, very imminent serious metals availability problems, filthy mining conditions and dangerous lithium fire risks, along with a looming shortage of electricity generation, all compromise their green credentials. It is planned to meet their greatly increased electricity demands with renewables, far from green themselves.

Very often inextinguishable post-accident lithium fires, familiar and feared in California, for example, are unsolved worries.

The ill thought-out switch from internal combustion engines will very likely come, in retrospect, to be seen as a disaster and which will not help save the planet.

Perhaps technical advances will improve electric vehicles, but who can know when that time might come.

(Dr) Charles Wardrop, Perth.