I READ Rebecca McQuillan's article (“How pylons could become the next front in the culture war”, The Herald, February 8) on the pylon issue with interest. As a small fragile rural community, Dalmally already had 29 pylons running right through the middle of our village transmitting energy from the Drax pump storage power station at Cruachan to the Central Belt and beyond. One pylon is just metres away from our primary school and Cruachan is likely to double in size in the next few years. These are not single pylons.

We now face the prospect of SSEN constructing a further 48, even larger, pylons across our landscape together with at least one further sub-station. This will effectively surround our community with industrial-scale electricity infrastructure. This is ostensibly to transmit renewable energy from renewable energy developments across Argyll that are yet to be consented to the rest of Scotland and the wider UK.

After years of unsuccessful attempts to engage with SSEN over viable alternative routes, in 2023 we had to raise over £15,000 to make our case to a public local inquiry. We await the decision of Scottish Mministers with trepidation.

We are not nimbies. We fully support the development of renewable energy and are keen for our beautiful part of Argyll to play its part in the transition to net zero. However, this must be a just transition; one that is based on informed debate about the actual need for this type of infrastructure, alternative technologies and routes and a thorough assessment of the likely impact on the future sustainability of communities such as ours. It should not be small rural communities that have to challenge proposals from large global companies such as SSEN. It is time for a national debate about what Scotland can contribute to this agenda and how this is best achieved.

Sue Rawcliffe, Dalmally, Argyll.

Read more: Moving ferries to Troon long-term would be disastrous for Arran

The Kirk's new Clearances

FURTHER to your series "The New Highland Clearances" (The Herald, January 29-February 3) and "One careful owner: Kirk sells off properties but buyers beware" (The Herald, February 8), the Church of Scotland is creating an architectural, cultural and spiritual wasteland. The hard-nose response to raising this issue has been that the Church of Scotland is a national Presbyterian hierarchical organisation. It is not a congregational association.

Most Church of Scotland congregations were built and paid for by members. Donations by landowners and business people have also been factors in the construction of churches throughout the land. Members maintained these buildings. When congregations required grant financial help for repairs and renovations, these were available from the Trustees but only on condition that they transfer the title deeds of their properties from local ownership to the Trustees. Thus the Trustees acquired ownership of many church buildings and properties for a fraction of their saleable values. Members continued to pay for the maintenance of buildings which they no longer owned and in which they were now only tenants.

It is true that many congregations have declined in numbers and are no longer sustainable. It is true that many church properties require maintenance and upgrading and that many local members no longer have sufficient faith, scale, generosity, commitment and expertise to maintain them. Some congregations however do have these qualities and yet their churches are being closed on algorithm criteria, against the wishes of still-worshipping members.

Church of Scotland ministers facilitated some of the Highland Clearances in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today faithful lifelong members of local churches are being evicted from their churches. The Church of Scotland is conducting its own version of the Highland Clearances. Future generations and centuries will ponder the causes.

Rev Dr Robert Anderson, Dundonald.

The Herald: Midmar Church in Aberdeenshire is one of the Kirk properties that have been put up for saleMidmar Church in Aberdeenshire is one of the Kirk properties that have been put up for sale (Image: Contributed)

Case for change is not proven

THERE has been much debate regarding Scotland’s not proven verdict and many people seem to think that it should be removed, leaving only the choice of guilty or not guilty in a criminal trial.

It appears to me from previous comments that those in favour of the removal of the not proven verdict seem to think that it would lead to more convictions. I cannot see any logic in that. According to the law, a person should only be found guilty if the case is proven beyond all reasonable doubt. Under the current system if a case is not proven beyond all reasonable doubt a person might be found not guilty or not proven. If the option of not proven is no longer available then the only choice left is not guilty.

David Clark, Tarbolton.

Imagine a President Johnson

IT’S mince to say a monarchy conflicts with democracy (Letters, February 8).

Monarchy abides very well with democracy in Japan, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg and Britain.

Within my memory a Spanish monarch faced off an armed far-right coup against Spain’s emerging democracy.

Modern monarchies are a constitutional adjunct much friendlier to democracy than President Nigel Farage or President Boris Johnson, as talked-up a couple of years ago by Vice-President Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Tim Cox, Bern, Switzerland.

Read more: We know about the A9, but when will they do something about the A1?

The benefits of red wine

IN saying that by imposing what amounts to a tax on gardening - garden bin fees - with its myriad benefits, the SNP wishes him dead, William Durward (Letters, February 6) is imputing malevolence to an authority that is probably guilty of nothing more than ignorance or stupidity.

By analogous misunderstanding, the use of the matchlessly beneficial general-purpose nutrient, red wine, is inhibited by an outrageous level of excise duty in the misguided assumption that alcoholic drink, being harmful to a minority with weak physical or mental constitution, should have its use minimised by taxation.

I am an 84-year-old who attributes his excellent health and undiminished vigour to the regular consumption for over 60 years of around 10 times the "safe maximum", mainly in the form of a daily two bottles of red with the evening meal. The anti-drink organisations I've pointed this out to have dealt with this awkward fact by the simple expedient of failing to respond.

You may be sure [if this letter is selected for use] that these gentry will prove equally indifferent to opinion adjudged worthy of publication in the correspondence columns of The Herald, ever ready though they are to pontificate where they are unlikely to be challenged.

Robin Dow, Rothesay.