I WATCHED the debate in Holyrood last Thursday regarding SSEN’s proposed infrastructure nightmare and felt real anger as I viewed row after row of empty chairs. Chairs that once supported very well-paid MSPs, the majority of whom couldn’t leave the chamber fast enough after FMQs rather than listen to a debate that was of huge importance to Scotland’s citizens.

Some of those few who bothered to stay spoke with a passion for their communities. In typical Scottish Government modus operandi, energy minister Gillian Martin attempted to blame Westminster and absolve her government of any responsibility. That old chestnut was soon chucked on the fire when she was sharply corrected by others who reminded her that planning was fully devolved and no-one, not even big bad Westminster, could force anything to be built in Scotland without Scottish ministers’ approval.

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Green Mark Ruskell was toe-curlingly awful. No empathy or compassion for rural communities, just thinly veiled contempt telling us all we will just have to put up with multinationals destroying our rural environment in order to stop the planet dying. How shameful to not recognise the trauma felt by communities and at least be open to a debate on the issues. His glowing reference to the Beauly-to-Denny line and the “negotiations” had with SSEN was disingenuous. No-one I know felt SSEN had done anything other than what SSEN wanted to do, and the tsunami of wind applications that followed left communities fighting multiple wind farms coming at them over just about every hill.

Labour’s Michael Marra appeared to have thrown in the towel regarding opposing overhead lines having “been persuaded” they are essential. They are not, and he should engage with communities and their experts too, to not only demand evidence of need but to look for potential alternatives.

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The SNP’s Fergus Ewing recognised the severity of the problem and suggested the issue needed a full three-hour government debate. That would be welcomed, providing those MSPs with affected constituents could force themselves to rock up on the day, stay and listen to the entire debate, not scroll through their phones, and speak up for those who elected them and pay their wages. Mr Ewing along with Mr Marra mentioned “community benefit”.

All MSPs need to read the room on this. There is NO amount of money that will compensate rural residents for having their peaceful country existence transformed into a concrete and steel jungle or help them live with the fact that the destruction is to facilitate yet more onshore wind turbines and further infrastructure we don’t need to enrich the shareholders of global investment companies with zero connection to our country.

If there is potential for a government debate on any further infrastructure and wind development then a moratorium must be called until an acceptable way forward can be found. The Scottish Government should understand that the storm brewing in rural Scotland will not be quelled with weasel words and broken promises.

Lyndsey Ward
Spokeswoman for Communities B4 Power Companies

THERE is so much misinformation about Scotland peddled by the UK media that one would not know where to start in addressing all the misconceptions prevalent (as evidenced on most episodes of Question Time when Scotland’s governance is raised as a topic of discussion). Perhaps, therefore, it might be more instructive to ask why people “down south” do not appear confident in England becoming an independent country.

Perhaps they do not wish to have nuclear submarines moored next to their most populous city.

Perhaps they still wish to control the huge oil and gas resources still remaining in the Scottish sector of the North Sea (resources that over decades have yielded hundreds of billions of pounds to prop up the UK economy).

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Perhaps they wish to continue to benefit from Scotland’s leading progress towards net zero in terms of renewable energy generation (massive tidal generation still to come) and measures such as extensive tree-planting and future carbon sequestration.

Perhaps they do not wish to see public services deteriorate even further and the enormous UK debt of almost £3 trillion rise higher due to missing advantageous infrastructure investment (Scotland now only having 3.5% of UK Government spending, the lowest percentage since devolution 25 years ago).

Perhaps they do not wish to lose direct access to the personnel who have been called upon to lead their academic, commercial and military ventures in pursuit of the UK’s global ambitions, or who in the past have tragically, and disproportionately, given their lives on foreign battlefields.

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Perhaps they do not wish to face up to the dire legacy of imperialist plunder and exploitation that has contributed, and still contributes, to the growing tide of refugees around the world.

Perhaps they are simply scared of constitutional change and are not even ready to listen to OECD advice that the focus in education should not be on narrow exam targets but on the holistic development of young people so we can together happily build an ambitious, healthy, prosperous, democratic, socially just and egalitarian society.

Stan Grodynski
Longniddry, East Lothian