READING today’s letters (April 11) about the ban on woodburning stoves in new homes and continuing concerns about how the hate crime laws are interpreted, I wondered how this SNP/Green Scottish Government seems to so often to manage to get the detail wrong when pursuing seemingly well-meaning initiatives.

Listening to various Scottish ministers justifying their consistently hard-line approach to these matters, one explanation lies in the approach they seem to take to consultations over planned legislation. It appears that time and again the reasonable concerns of significant minorities are brushed aside when they do not chime with the groupthink of those who believe they know best. Was a tin ear applied when wide-ranging concerns were raised about previous similar missteps, such as the gender recognition reforms, the named person scheme, or the Highly Protected Marine Areas proposals? It has become clear that too often this Scottish Government prefers dogma over reason when proposing and implementing change.

How ironic that one of the supposed "protections" included in the Hate Crime Act is the “reasonable person” test, when it appears that such a person is the least likely to be heard in any of this Scottish Government’s regular, and apparently largely meaningless, consultation exercises.

Keith Howell, West Linton.

Weaponising the Hate Crime Act

OF the 7,000 Hate Crime Act complaints received by the police ("Police officers ‘will not be diverted by hate crime law’", The Herald, April 11), only three per cent were worthy of recording, as the vast bulk were anonymous politically motivated complaints stirred up by bad-faith actors and sections of the media. This was confirmed by the Chair of the Scottish Police Federation who told Radio Scotland on Wednesday afternoon that “this legislation is being misused by the public, they are not contacting the police because that are genuinely feel they are victims of hate crime but because they are making political or personal protest points against the SNP Government”. He added: “Hopefully these figures will be shocking enough to change the behaviour of the public who are intent on misusing or weaponising this legislation.”

The situation is not helped by the moral cowardice shown by Anas Sarwar and Alex Cole-Hamilton, who failed to speak out despite their parties voting overwhelmingly in favour of the Act.

Despite this waste of police time, the level of reported crime has fallen dramatically by almost 50 per cent since the SNP took office and contrary to some reports police numbers have only decreased by 11 full-time posts since June 2022 but with an increase of 366 officers compared to 2007.

Mary Thomas, Edinburgh.

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Police Scotland is not working

I READ with alarm that many rank and file frontline officers were often stressed and felt unsafe working for a severely understaffed organisation. I was reassured however to read that the Chief Constable and her deputy had made the decision to take into consideration the health and wellbeing of frontline officers. This was to include direct access to occupational health care, 24/07 employee assistance and a greater focus on mental health issues, at a cost of £17 million.

However, this is just papering over the cracks and not dealing with the main issue of understaffing and underfunding.

The police force should never be underfunded, whether we're talking about staffing shortages or the lack of investment in police offices.

The police are overstretched and more officers are needed to fill the gaping void. Officers have however been found to deal with complaints under the new hate crime legislation.

The present situation relative to stress and mental health and working conditions would put off many people from taking up the police as a long term career. Police Scotland under the SNP is not working. It has too large an area to control and was another example of the ineptitude of the SNP in what was supposed to be a money-saving scheme.

Neil Stewart, Balfron.

No climate gain from this ban

BEFORE imposing bans on wood stoves and pressurising householders into fitting heat pumps, Patrick Harvie and his followers should learn some basic thermodynamics and biochemistry. Beguiling though the supposed four units of heat produced by heat pumps for every one unit of electricity consumed (under ideal conditions) may look, it is only half the story.

Until all, or most, of our electricity is produced from renewables, basic thermodynamics and properties of materials dictate that the maximum efficiency of generation from fossil fuel to electricity cannot be more than a little over 30%. So those four units of heat from the heat pump actually require about three units of fossil fuel energy. Hardly impressive. Even when renewables are used, their intermittency problem will still mean that some form of backup for short, still, cloudy days will be needed to fuel the heat pumps.

Use of wood stoves as a fashion item in an urban context clearly makes no sense, but in rural areas, many, if not most, users of wood stoves will fuel them with locally-sourced timber which would otherwise probably go to waste. If that wood is allowed to rot, then this will release almost as much carbon dioxide, albeit over a longer period, than direct and useful combustion. The gain from a blanket ban on stoves will show little environmental gain, and cause unreasonable harm to a significant proportion of the Scottish population..

Dr RM Morris, Ellon.

New-build strategy is correct

DUNCAN Cameron's letter (April 11) reminded me of the Rayburn in the kitchen of our house in Auld Reekie (well named in those days). Apart from special occasions, like Christmas, it was the only source of heating in our house. On winter mornings, waking to frost encased on the inside of my bedroom window, I'd rush to the kitchen with my clothes to dress there, then head off to school, snivelling and sneezing for the rest of the day. So I have mixed nostalgic feelings but very glad now to have central heating.

Yes, a fire or woodburner provides emotional as well as physical warmth but it also pollutes: do you remember Glasgow smog and our cities' blackened architecture before the introduction of smokeless zones and stone cleaning? Wood burners may be tolerable in older, difficult to insulate homes, where folk huddle together in one room. But these days, as Mr Cameron suggests, they are more likely to be installed in urban homes as a trendy, unnecessary design addition to show off.

I have long been critical of our inadequate building regulations regarding insulation, compared with European standards. Hopefully that is changing, which will eliminate the need for a supplementary source of heat. So it's quite right to ban burners from new builds, though I agree there should definitely be scope for exemption in more vulnerable (mainly rural) areas.

David Bruce, Troon.

The Herald: Woodburning stoves are to be banned from most new-buildsWoodburning stoves are to be banned from most new-builds (Image: Getty)

Inevitability of war

IT doesn’t take much imagination to draw parallels between what has happened over the last handful of decades in the Middle East and specifically to Palestine, to the fate that befell the native inhabitants of the Americas, Australia and Africa after they were “discovered” and reluctantly incorporated into “The Anglosphere”.

I’ve no idea what the common man in the UK knew or cared about what was happening in the days of the British Empire but it is obvious to me and should be to anyone with the wit to tie their own shoelaces that the majority of British citizens are diametrically opposed to the policies currently being pursued by Westminster. That our unelected Foreign Secretary can continue to facilitate the supply of arms to Israel to be used in the obliteration of Gaza while ignoring what is happening there and on the West Bank is simply unacceptable ("UK will allow exports to Israel", The Herald, April 11). He also ignores the fact that in contravention of international law Israel is an occupying force in Palestine and the Syrian Golan Heights and is also bombing and killing in the Lebanon Syria and the Yemen. That Lord Cameron does so in the face of the almost unanimous condemnation of the membership of the UN and while steadfastly refusing to reveal to the electorate the legal advice given to him on which he bases that policy is beneath contempt.

I can’t help but wonder that if there were no oil in the Middle East just where else in the world the fighting would be taking place and what resource the Establishment would be trying to exploit at the expense of the lives of its native population. War, one way or another, has always been about the Establishment preserving its wealth or enriching itself. The deliberate murder of 15,000 Palestinian children obviously means nothing to those who pull the strings.

David J Crawford, Glasgow.