NO-ONE should be disappointed that sentencing for sex offences will be reviewed as a higher priority than that for wildlife crime (Sex crime sentence guide will take time, judge warns, May 16). Crimes against the person are clearly vital to tackle.

However, I hope this does not mean review of the use of Scottish uplands and the necessary changes to legislation to tackle the amount of wildlife crime in the vicinity of Scotland’s grouse moors will be delayed. Sentencing policy is important, but all research has shown that the greatest deterrent

to criminal behaviour is not the severity of the punishment, but the likelihood of being caught and successfully prosecuted.

In the case of persecution of birds of prey, the evidence is clear from satellite tagging, RSPB surveys and the data collated by the Raptor Persecution UK that offences are taking place, but the level of level proof required to bring a successful prosecution is difficult to achieve. Such proof has been made even harder by a recent court ruling that video evidence gathered without the permission of either the landowner or the person being photographed is inadmissible.

All of this means that the law must be reviewed and, if illegal practices continue to happen, the right to shoot should be withdrawn. There are other practices on grouse moor which merit further consideration. There are no tests for lead or insecticides before grouse enter the food chain. The barbaric practice of using stink pits, rather than having to dispose of dead stock responsibly, should end, as should the use of snares, which legally only need to be monitored once a day; the unlimited culling of mountain hares; and the routine burning of heather, with the release of carbon dioxide which results. People come first, but it is now time that the welfare of wildlife should also be accorded some priority.

Pete Rowberry

IT is good to see Lesley Riddoch's column in The National (Why the Greens are benefiting from the FM’s climate emergency move, May 16). The Greens realise that Green policies will flourish best in an independent Scotland, just as the SNP welcome the fight against climate change.

I would, however, take issue with Lesley Riddoch’s statement that “green issues are simply not the SNP’s main area of interest or expertise”. Perhaps Lesley would find the SNP Environment Policy of 1971 interesting (it does not mention oil as it was only a rumour back then). Then there were agriculture, forestry and land use and land reform policies 1969 to 1971. Perhaps Green politicians would not support that our land reform was based on how land was used by those living on the land rather than stressing land ownership

What is beyond argument is that the Green revolution and independence are interlinked and that the Greens and SNP must realise that truth and work in co-operation to achieve success on both counts. Waiting for the UK to take action will take too long. We have a planet to save first.

George Leslie

GOOD analysis from Lesley Riddoch in her column, and I am certain these views resonate strongly throughout Scotland. However, there is a growing feeling that we need independence at all costs, sooner the better, and that the Green agenda will have to wait until the first government election of an independent Scotland. So, the vibe goes – vote SNP until Scotland is independent, and THEN vote for Green input. This is what I’m hearing.

Alastair Gilchrist

THE letter from Ian Baillie regarding the lack of Scottish history in our school curricula has set me thinking. As long as our young people are not taught their nation’s history we are fighting for independence with one hand tied behind our back. SNP politicians appear to scrupulously avoid making any reference to Scotland’s historical experiences with our English “partners” in the so-called Union. It is as though “harking back” would be some sort of bad form. They concentrate on how we might end the Union, but say nothing about how we got into it in the first place.

Yes, our “aristocratic” leadership was bribed into acquiescence, but it is seldom mentioned that there was also the threat of invasion. There was absolutely nothing voluntary about the 1707 loss of independence. The Union was enforced under duress. There was no referendum then. If there had been the vote would have been a landslide No.

Let our present (now democratically elected) politicians look to history and exercise the responsibility our votes have given them. The Scottish Parliament, with its existing independence majority, is perfectly mandated and entitled to end the Union without the absurdity of asking of asking English permission.

Billy Scobie