THE Scottish Government seeks to "increase housing availability" by doubling council tax on second homes.

Scotland has 24,000 second homes, being 0.9% of the housing stock, 12,000 fewer than 2012, whilst the number of households has increased by 7% in Scotland in the same period. The real issue therefore is rising household numbers (data from National Records of Scotland, Households and Dwelling in Scotland 2022).

Second homeowners will either stump up, sell, or otherwise avoid this tax, and having done so any effect on housing availability will vanish in a puff; it is a one-off.

The abject failure of the Scottish Government to provide the homes or the environment to build homes for a changing population is the issue. In 2023 36% of households are single-person, compared to rUK of 30%. Current taxation incentivises single-person living with a 25% discount, costing in the region of £250 million.

Those people with holiday homes spend leisure time in them, they may drive to or take public transport to reach them, they spend money in the local communities. They already pay full council tax but use far fewer public services, they may also have paid a stamp duty premium. Some will have family connections to sometimes-remote villages and deep family roots. Some will be older, retired, and unable to take foreign trips, and find insurance difficult or impossible to obtain due to age and health.

The alternative for those able to is to take the airplane to an exotic location two or three times a year, or even invest in overseas properties. There they can spend their money in these welcoming places and can mega-tuple their carbon footprint, resting assured that they have helped to improve the mirage of availability of housing in Scotland, to the detriment of its economy and environment.

Meantime the parcel of rogues running Holyrood shelter under a smokescreen of their making to obscure the real issues, namely housing and local authority funding, and their failure to address them.

Gavin Findlay, Boghead.

Read more: We need a national debate on how to avoid desecrating the countryside

Impracticalities of going green

AN obstacle to the green policy of going all-electric is not only the capability of the National Grid (“Outdated network threatens offshore wind rush", The Herald, February 10). The infrastructure of the distribution network for isolated properties, villages, towns and cities will have to be upgraded to cater for the higher current-carrying capability required for the increase in demand for power.

We need to consider the need for car charging points domestically and publicly, replacing gas heating/cooking with electric, heat pumps (at about 5kW each), gardening and agricultural equipment using electricity instead of carbon. If we are to go “all electric” the existing cabling will have to be replaced everywhere or we will encounter burn-out. This was a recent failure of an underwater cable for a Hebridean island just last year. A generator had to be provided for the islanders until a replacement could be installed.

Digging up streets and other arteries will cause much disruption and, more importantly, negate any carbon pollution saving owing to the amount of machinery time required for the installations. The answer, then, is to use electrically-powered diggers, drills, bulldozers and road-rollers to carry out this work in an environmentally friendly way. But, as we all know, where have we seen such equipment? As far as I know is does not exist, perhaps as a drawing board design or, more likely, can be only found in a toy shop.

Maybe I could be wrong and someone somewhere is conjuring something up. But where to charge it with its large insatiable batteries?

At the moment greening seems to be pie in the sky as it has not been thoroughly thought out, most probably by people with little or no practical knowledge. As an example, I remember many years ago an establishment run by committees of non-technical staff, published their report to cut the electricity bill by replacing all the secretaries’ electric heaters 13amp fuses with 5 amp fuses. Don’t knock it, that would certainly have saved money.

Bill Stirling, Alloa.

The Herald: Outside The Garage nightclub, GlasgowOutside The Garage nightclub, Glasgow (Image: Newsquest)

Clubbing together

READING Kevin McKenna's article on The Garage ("The nightclub helping save Sauchiehall Street", The Herald, February 12) I was surprised he didn't mention that the in the 1970s and 80s such venues were known as discos.

I always thought that a "club" involved membership, and that so-called nightclubs are really just discos? The term "clubber" to describe dancers is perhaps an excuse to charge more for what sounds a more exotic venue.

J Kerr, Glasgow.

When less is more

I FIND myself in considerable sympathy with 84-year-old Robin Dow's letter (February 12) on the benefits of red wine, but perhaps with a caveat or two. As a 74-year-old who has only been enjoying nature's gift to the thoughtful and the desperate for around 50 years, may I pass on my own recently acquired solution to the wine taxation problem?

As every oenophile knows, wine taxation, which has always been with us, is very disproportionate to the quality of the bottle's contents. Instead of two bottles of the luscious liquid might I suggest a bottle and a half of rather better quality?

John Jamieson, Ayr.

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

What planet are they on?

LAST Friday night my friends and I were discussing the cost of drinking. One mentioned his shock at the current price of a bottle of vodka compared to its December price. I lightened the mood by singing the chorus of the old Will Fyfe song “Twelve and a tanner a bottle” ( 62.5p in new money) which was written by Will in 1929 when the price of whisky was increased.

When I got home I watched a recording of The Apprentice in which mini cheesecakes were sold at over £10 each in London! (Last year we saw similar London sales of cupcakes at over £5 each.) If that is a reasonable cost in the land which houses Westminster and southern Yuppies, then how can we expect rational policies and levelling-up? Obviously we live on a different planet.

JB Drummond, Kilmarnock.