I WAS delighted to see that Mairi Gougeon, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment and species champion for the hen harrier, has taken time out from her busy schedule to visit the Cairngorms National Park to see breeding hen harriers (from a suitable distance of course) and to hear from representatives of Scottish Raptor Study Group and the National Trust for Scotland of the challenges these iconic birds are facing.

Mairi has been diligent in her role and has spoken at Holyrood and attended hen harrier days, in contrast to her counterparts down south. The four chicks that she saw are being carefully monitored on Mar Lodge estate and it is hoped that all survive and fledge.

Once adults, their future is much less certain – four of the five hen harriers tagged in this area over the last few years have all vanished in suspicious circumstances in and around other grouse moors in the Cairngorms National Park; all are believed to have been illegally killed. In spite of all the public pressure to clean up their act, it seems that shooting estates have failed to control the behaviour of some those using or working on their estates.

Hen harriers are not the only victims. 15 satellite-tagged golden eagles have also “disappeared” in suspicious circumstances in recent years inside the Cairngorms National Park. In 2014 the first white-tailed eagle chick to fledge in east Scotland in around 200 years also “disappeared”. The only rational explanation for these mysteries is intervention by humans and disposal of carcases and tags in a way which they cannot be traced.

Now is the time to move from words into action. A review of the management of grouse moors is due soon, but this needs to be hastened to stop the damage being done by this persecution, legal and illegal. Those who love and respect our wild environment are beginning to lose faith with what is otherwise a generally sympathetic Scottish Government. Please act now.

Pete Rowberry

I WAS especially delighted as a Glaswegian to read that alcohol sales in Scotland have fallen to their lowest level in 25 years after the introduction of price controls, and that this had delivered a corresponding 3% fall in alcohol consumption.

Great, I thought. A small start but nevertheless a positive result for what was at times a contentious policy.

Imagine then my disappointment to read that Willie Rennie could only see failure. The policy did not go far enough. The minimum price was too low. It did not realise the policy’s original ambition.

Rennie’s comments, while possibly true, reflect all that is wrong with our politics today. Instead of celebrating a win for the people of Scotland who contributed to that 3% fall, and hopefully will enjoy better health outcomes as a result, he offered nothing but criticism of the party in government, because it is not his party.

This detrimental political mindset is now entrenched in our modern politics: party before country and definitely before the people they are meant to serve.

Opposition has now come to mean that nothing other than cynical criticism passes for politicians doing their jobs.

Iona Easton

SCOTLAND needs to think more about the effects and consequences of tackling climate change, which requires international recognition that there is a crisis and cooperation if there is to be any hope of success (Climate change: Nicola Sturgeon calls for ‘national endeavour’, June 20). There is work that could be done here that might open the eyes of those who think there are simple solutions in the fight against pollution.

The Scottish Government owns two of the most polluting modern ferries anywhere in the world yet their fuel consumption and CO2 pollution could be reduced by about 15% on the NorthLink routes from Aberdeen and Lerwick to Kirkwall by increasing the journey times by a couple of hours. I wonder if these enthusiastic campaigners and protestors would like to make a start on the national endeavour by taking on the challenge of making this seemingly straightforward change?

The experience that they would gain from their experience would put them in a good position for dealing with problems that would arise from attacking climate change anywhere in the world.

John Jamieson
South Queensferry

SO proud of the Scottish Ladies football team. Unbelievably cruel ending to a brave and honourable campaign. There is a lot of negativity surrounding the use of VAR in these tournaments. I personally feel there is a place for the technology in today’s game and would welcome the use to clear up some controversial decisions from past World Cup games. Think we should be thorough and double check ALL results. Let’s randomly start with the World Cup final of 1966 though...

Dr Iain Maclean