I WAS disturbed to read the article by Jack Gillies “North-east won’t fall for Tories’ gaslighting on energy” (Apr 14). Actually, I quite agree with Gillies that the Tory energy policy is nuts, but so is that of the Scottish Government. Here are a few observations:

1. Gillies alleges that we are “now met with claims [that] the North Sea oil and gas is the answer to all our problems”. Gillies should be wary of creating straw men and making up fantasies. No politician of any party is making such a claim. But we do know, for example, that the recently mothballed Jackdaw field could supply a significant share of our gas needs.

2. Gillies alleges that it takes ten years to develop oil and gas projects offshore. Well, that may be true if you are talking about rank exploration wells being drilled west of Shetland. But what we need to recognise is that there are some 300 undeveloped discoveries in the UKCS. Admittedly, many are too small and difficult ever to be developed, but many can be developed with political will and adequate capital support. I am working on two such projects. And what about developing the vast reserves of shale gas under feet?

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3. Gillies notes that much of our offshore oil is exported for blending and refining. We export a great deal of oil but the point is that we are a huge net IMPORTER of oil and gas. We will need oil and gas for decades. Why not develop our own?

4. Gillies believes that we will be “pulling oil and gas out of the North Sea for decades to come”. We will not do so if Nicola is able to stop any new developments!

5. We are told that in the recent oil bust the Tories bailed out “the oil companies with tax cuts that meant that we were actually paying oil companies to extract our oil”. This is complete nonsense and I ask Gillies to withdraw that statement. The tax cuts he refers to REDUCED oil company tax to TWICE (40%) the general corporate tax. Before that it was well over 60%. Those tax cuts were quite rightly enthusiastically welcomed by the (much more sensible) SNP of that era. He suggests that oil companies are somehow subsidised by the taxpayer but this is total fake news. Decommissioning tax rebates are genuine tax deductions made against prior tax revenue. He fails to note that the renewables industry is utterly dependent on subsidies and only pays regular corporate tax.

6. The north-east certainly does understand the oil and gas business, which is more than can be said for Gillies.

7. Apart from being largely incoherent, the Tories’ energy policy will do nothing to help our many poor people who are facing crushing rises in energy pricing. I am very concerned that the energy cap may rise to £4000 by autumn. I propose the following short-term measures: (1) eliminate VAT from energy bills; (2) take the ruinous green subsidies out of energy bills and punt them into general taxation; and (3) adopt a means-tested assistance programme for our poorest people who need a lot of help. If not, I am seriously afraid of the consequences in terms of deaths and utter misery next winter.

There was a day when the SNP knew more about oil and gas than Westminster, and we had a leader who had been chief oil economist in RBS. These days are sadly over.

William Ross

THANKS for the article about the South Ayrshire local election (Hopes partygate will hit Tory vote, Apr 4). If I might take issue with one point, please.

It is true to say that there are many shops that are empty or with “To Let” signs above the doors but there are many others that have been newly let to start-up businesses. I can count now 12 off the top of my head.

Ignore my own but consider several food shops that are catering for the “foodie” market and several others that are looking to provide niche products to people who have been starved of contact with the retail industry, with the exception of Amazon et al. There are several longstanding shops in Ayr that are still there and thriving (Wallace Allan the jewellers, for example).

There are many towns the length and breadth of the UK that are struggling due to the problems of the retail industry. It is remiss of a newspaper to highlight only the negative. Come again to Ayr and I will show you the success stories as well as the budding success stories.

Mark Dixon
via email

WHATEVER you think about the UK Government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda, politicians on all sides have criticised the Archbishop of Canterbury for wading in and using his privileged and widely broadcast Easter sermon to claim it was “the opposite of the nature of God”.

Does Justin Welby speak for “God”? Views of the laity on LGBT issues, abortion, contraception or assisted dying often differ wildly from those of church leaders.

Should the archbishop be allowed to speak his personal views? Absolutely, but not from the House of Lords.

Neil Barber
Edinburgh Secular Society