THE letter on Tuesday from Dr David White is very interesting from different standpoints (Long Letter, December 4). Dr White concisely sums up one of a potential myriad of benefits with independence, where east-coast ports of Scotland could thrive given their proximity to Europe together with all the infrastructure for dealing with imports and exports from EU and non-EU members alike. This could create hundreds of jobs in Scotland and the northern half of England.

It also reveals the paucity of current information on what independence is all about, from self-determination and sovereignty for our country to the many opportunities that could be seized if we could get out of a somewhat lazy mental attitude and start some positive “can do” thinking.

It also highlights this question: why, over the past two or three years, have we heard little about the broad benefits of independence from the SNP, who should be in permanent campaign mode? Instead the debate has been completely focused and conflated by the opposition around “indyref2” which is the mechanism not the reason, and on which the SNP are strangely silent. For those not terribly interested in politics and in need of convincing about the merits of independence, “indyref2” or whatever it is to be called, carries no message and is meaningless, exactly how the Unionists want it.

Alan M Morris

DR David White is spot-on in claiming that Brexit could be a golden opportunity for Scotland’s ports. Sadly, however, Scottish ports today, largely obsolete through lack of investment, are a pale shadow of their former global importance. After privatisation in 1991 by the Thatcher government, Scotland’s major Central Belt ports now disburse profits made in Scotland to private equity entities based in offshore tax havens. For these reasons, much of Scotland’s traded goods must now be sent to and from distant ports in England such that it costs almost as much to send a container from the Central Belt to Southampton as it does from Southampton to Shanghai.

There is, however, a unique opportunity to circumvent long road hauls to and from Brexit congested English ports. That is to create a new ferry and cruise ship port at Cockenzie, Preston Links, where East Lothian Council have already purchased the site of the former power station. This sheltered location, seaward of the height restrictions of the Forth Bridges, with excellent road and rail links to Edinburgh and beyond, is already designated as a port and can be developed for the largest ferries and cruise ships at relatively modest cost.

There are competing bids for the site, but there is no other suitable location with adequate shelter for a modern port on that strategically important stretch of coast. It is no exaggeration to state that Scotland’s future trade will hinge on developing Cockenzie Europort.

Roy Pedersen

IN the 1960s there was a suggestion that a land bridge from the west of Scotland to the east could relieve the build-up of traffic in the English Channel. I commented on this about a year ago. I suggest the modern-day equivalent would be a dedicated freight rail link from Greenock to Rosyth. Assuming rUK out of Europe and an independent Scotland in Europe, the financial and trading benefits would be enormous, possibly rivalling our North Sea oil and renewable energy benefits. It is never too late if you do the right thing.

Gordon Robertson

SETTING aside the question of whether it should have been permitted at all, the future resilience of the Cairngorm Funicular Railway was called into question more than 20 years ago when design decisions were taken by Highlands and Islands Enterprise. We need to stop taking decisions for short-term financial reasons and base design choices on potential whole-life costs.

The original design for the support structure was in steel, which is the norm in high altitudes, but to reduce the capital cost this was changed to reinforced and pre-stressed concrete. Consequently, the Highland Council as planning authority, most likely based on concern from Scottish Natural Heritage over the expanse of grey concrete, specified an exposed aggregate finish which allowed easier ingress of moisture, thus accelerating structural deterioration. I have not inspected the structure so cannot say whether this specific issue relates to the current problem but it will certainly arise in future.

On the positive side, we seem on the brink of a transfer of assets to the community, assuming an appropriate maintenance dowry, returning control to the folk who live in the area. I have seen many examples of local empowerment and community confidence through land ownership and wish the Aviemore and Glenmore Community Trust well for the future.

John C Hutchison
Fort William