MONDAY’S letters from Alistair Ballantyne and Thomas L Inglis raised the crucial issues of the lack of tree management (by landowners, whether private or council), and of extremely poor land planning standards (largely council, I would suggest).

STV News showed helicopter-based video (probably from SSE?) of one incident in Aberdeenshire, where the entire width of a commercially planted small forest had collapsed from the north-east edge like a set of dominos, the last of which fell across the width of the single-track road on the south-west edge, and brought down the overhead power lines which were a metre or two along the south-west of the road, crucially well within a “tree-height” of the edge of the plantation.

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These trees were of the fast-growing, tall and straight type, tightly planted to limit branch growth (and, obviously, root growth), and ideal for machining into planks for building materials.

It seems fairly obvious (though not, it seems, to planners) that the boundaries of this wee plantation should have been far enough from any road or building or power lines that falling trees could not obstruct or damage them. This is not difficult to measure, or to implement.

Commercial forestry does not have a long lifespan, for obvious reasons, and surely it is not beyond the wit of planners and landowners to prevent this unnecessary damage.

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If, as has been reported, the power-line companies carried out inspections of the lines “last year”, they would have known there were many areas of forest that were too close to those lines. Did they believe that only the prevailing wind fells trees (ie, from the south-west, falling to the north-east)? That would suggest they don’t understand the impact of wind direction on the strength (and weakness) of the root systems.

Rural Aberdeenshire is used to storms, from all directions, some of the worst off the North Sea, over relatively flat farmland. Several friends and former neighbours have told me they were astonished by the poor response to the damage, with large villages on main roads also having no power for five days or more. We may need government enforcement of a sustained programme of planned burial of all power lines, or rural areas will face this kind of disruption more frequently.

John Knight

ONCE again power companies, governments and any other interested parties are taken completely by surprise by storms causing power cuts. “How could this have happened?” they ask each other.

As always, it’s a combination of reasons, climate change being one of them, as we are having more and more severe storms, all over the world, due to climate change. We had power cuts in the 1970s due to the oil crisis and strikes by miners. But the main reason we have had such a severe outcome from this latest storm is because an incompetent Prime Minister in the 1980s sold off our utilities to foreign companies. Of course, their only interest is making profit for themselves and dividends for their shareholders. That is why no maintenance was done on trees to stop them being blown over onto power lines.

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It is the same story with ALL the infrastructure sold off by Margaret Thatcher. Train crashes galore after the sell-off of the railways. Bus routes cut after sell-off of bus companies. Strangely enough, it is said investment to upgrade infrastructure was too expensive. It is not the case that there is not enough money. There IS enough money, the only problem is that the money is not fairly shared out, and global corporations do not pay the correct amount of tax. Start renationalising our utilities and infrastructure, and re-employ the expert engineers who have been working as freelance consultants. That way we might get the required maintenance done.

This problem was foreseen by sensible people way back in the 1980s. We said it would end in tears, and we were right.

Margaret Forbes

PLEASE, please, pretty please let’s have Tuesday’s front page issued as a T-shirt. In fact any article of clothing, I’ll order a tie right now and when The National starts its own football team (no shortage of strikers), guess what the strip will look like?

M Ross

THE longer Boris Johnson and co keep up this farcical response to a simple question about Number 10 Christmas parties, the smaller will be the numbers who will accept anything that this government says in future at face value (Boris Johnson refuses to say rule-breaking Christmas bash did not take place,, Dec 7).

John Jamieson

I’M just wild about Harry. HM Harry has announced that if you are unhappy in your job you should change it. Sound advice. Gonny gie’s your joab?

Donald Anderson