IN his Sunday National letter “The UK has quite simply failed to protect us”, Jim Taylor’s lack of insight and avoidance of intuition doesn’t stop him from getting to his point – that we need independence. That conclusion is at least, as he puts it, “just common sense”.

He talks about price differentials in fuels and Lurpak, apparently blaming the government for excessive price swings, without once mentioning Ukraine. The Russian invasion had a drastic impact on fertiliser and energy prices as well as on sunflower oil and other oils, such as rapeseed – all of that is significant in the production of Lurpak.

He wonders why a litre of diesel was once 20p per litre-plus more expensive than petrol, whereas now that differential is typically just 1p. The answer, Jim, is simple – buyers of diesel were paying a premium to help keep Ukraine in the war.

You will recall Russia tried its utmost to freeze Ukraine into submission by bombarding large parts of its power generation infrastructure into ruins. During the recent winter, with reduced electricity supply, the demand for space heating oils in Ukraine would have gone loopy! The large concentration of oil refineries in Belgium and Holland would already have been on their normal gas oil (aka diesel or heating oil) production runs to meet expected winter demand in Western Europe.

The sudden increase in demand for gas oil would have been met by a number of measures: producing more gas oil at the expense of lighter distillates such as petrol; increasing the throughput of gas oil rich crudes such as North Sea oil; having UK and other European refineries export more gas oil to north-west Europe, etc. Naturally, demand was bound to put pressure on the price of diesel.

When spring came early, those nasty oil refineries that had been helping keep the Russians at bay found themselves with too many storage tanks full of gas oil/diesel. Then, we got a price correction.

It’s not always a rip-off, Jim. In the cases you raise, it’s the effect of supply and demand imbalances.

By the way, I’m all for curtailing (not stopping) oil. But let’s do it in a sensible way. By not wasting efforts in trying to block production of oil but by massively incentivising renewable energy production. Then, when demand for oil drops enough, North Sea crudes will become more and more uneconomic to produce. That’s the way to a just transition.

Alan Parker
via email

ALL over the world, the results of global warming are causing wildfires, flooding, glacier erosion, rising sea levels, land loss, species destruction and many other irreversible events.

Meanwhile, the UK and US politicians, along with that small section of the community that gains its great riches from fossil fuels, the air industry and other polluters, turn a blind eye to what is happening.

They care little that life on Earth is actually in great threat of being wiped out. The accumulation of wealth is all that matters to them.

When we reach the point of no return, and perhaps we have already reached it, the money men will be the last to suffer. It has always been that way. Their money will take them to those shrinking safer parts of this world and buy them some extra years with their cash.

Although the Kaiser brought about the deaths of about 20 million people in the First World War, he escaped off to the Netherlands to live out the rest of his life in peace. That is a parallel of what will happen when the point of no return comes to bite with the climate crisis. Unless the ordinary people carry out a full-scale revolt, they will be sacrificed yet again so the wealthy can retain their bloated lifestyles.

Alasdair Forbes
Farr, Inverness-shire

HAVING travelled the A9 since 1971, I fail to see the need for complaints about the supposed failure of the Scottish Government to upgrade it to a dual carriageway.

The original A9 was a narrow single carriageway road which was only upgraded by the Scottish Office (and Westminster) to facilitate the speedy transport of pipeline equipment for the oil industry.

The “upgraded” A9 was originally designed as a dual carriageway but it was decided that was not necessary or too expensive, so it ended up with long curves and many dangerous passing places which “ambitious” drivers fall victim to. The Scottish Government has already implemented many improvements, mainly to dual carriageway, which have vastly improved the road and greatly reduced travel times.

For example, with the original A9 it took eight-and-a-half/nine hours from Dundee to Caithness, just south of Wick. Now the same journey can be done in four/ four- and-a-half-hours!

The bridges over the various Firths have made a difference but much of this difference is due to the Scottish Government’s improvements, at considerable cost to the very limited budget, which they operate under.

Incidentally, we travel the A9 often, since 2019, in a fully electric car, but where possible never on a Friday when many drivers seem hell-bent on completing their journey in record time! In fact, the statistics for accidents on the road would seem to increase on Fridays. But maybe that’s just my impression.

Paul Gillon
Baintown, Leven