Letters to the Editor

WIND FARMS

Pitiful saving of emissions

The latest in a long line of developers to submit wind power station proposals in Galloway, Infinergy, states on its website its intention is “putting the right sized wind farm in the right place”.

It clearly means it since it has applied for no fewer than three sites in almost as many miles in the Stewartry, giving a grand total of 77 giant wind turbines.

So it must have found not one but three places of the right size which are also just in the right place – at least in the firm’s opinion!

Infinergy also states: “We are a wind farm development company, committed to renewable energy to help preserve our planet.”

Figures released by 
RenewableUK in February demonstrate total carbon emissions savings in the whole of the UK, not just Scotland of 10.9m tonnes over 18 months (National Grid) – at most 7.3 million tonnes per year.

Estimated UK annual carbon savings from wind generation are 7.3 million tonnes (National Grid).

Estimated global annual carbon emissions for 2012 are 35.6 billion tonnes 
(Nature Climate Change).

That means 7.3 million tons as a percentage of 35.6 
billion tonnes equates to 0.02 per cent.

0.02 per cent annual CO2 savings expressed as a fraction of global CO2 emissions for 2012 is 1/5000

In other words, all the wind turbines in the UK, all 4158 of them, saved just one five-thousandth of the world’s total.

If the consequences of erecting these useless turbines for our land, our birds, bats and wildlife, our tourist economy and our own lives were not so serious then it would be just a sick joke.

Alison Chapman,

Balmaclellan.

Education

System is working well

I understand the “consultation” between the council and parents on the planned cluster arrangements for schools is gaining momentum and is being done, in the main, through Parent Councils. The headteacher’s right to be on Parent Councils is enshrined in law and they are expected to offer guidance and advice. There is, however, something highly questionable if some are using this position to promote a policy where they are both the main proponents and potential beneficiaries of the scheme. At the very least, if they stand to gain financially through the implementation of the scheme this should be declared.

It appears that the benefit being put forward is that under clustering, neighbouring schools would be able to combine resources to enhance school trips, buy equipment and so on. This is simply not an argument for clustering – it can be done anyway. If it is such a good idea, it begs the question of why it is not already being done? All these co-operative ventures can be done under the present arrangements and it is a red herring to enlist them as arguments for clustering. There is no educational argument to favour clustering – the only benefit is managerial.

The Garlieston/Sorbie cluster, which has operated successfully for a number of years, is being held up as the aspirational example. Here two small and very close schools with a total of three teachers (two of whom were promoted) are managed by a full-time non-teaching head. No wonder it is popular as it stands. However, under the new proposal they will be joined by the much larger Whithorn and the pupils and parents of Garliestion, Sorbie and Whithorn will be among the main losers. Other anomalies exist – Port William and Kirkinner are not exactly neighbours, nor are Minnigaff/Creetown, and Wigtown/Kirkcowan.

A drive from Kirkcolm to Portpatrick entails travelling through Stranraer passing Leswalt, Sheuchan, St Joseph’s, Park and Belmont schools on the way. The only alternative route is to follow the twisting single-track Larbrax road which both takes longer and is devoid of a phone signal for more or less its entirety. Once Dumfries realises this, it will probably dump Portpatrick in with Drummore and Sandhead so they, too, will end up as big time losers.

I understand the parents and staff in the proposed Glenluce cluster are happy with the present situation and do not want it destroyed but, like everyone else, they will have to succumb to the “one size fits all” cluster plans if their councillors vote for the proposals at the forthcoming full meeting of the council.

The present situation with small village/community schools where staff know the children, parents and communities is universally seen as the “gold standard” – the best possible environment for early education where the children develop, learn and thrive in a calm, caring and secure environment. Any parent or councillor who supports destroying what we have carefully built up over many generations in Scotland must both answer to the rest of the community and to future parents and generations for their actions.

Dr M Barry Miller,

Mahaar Schoolhouse, 
Kirkcolm.

BEDROOM TAX

Levy will be regressive

SNP councillors should have thought about what they were doing before they voted against removing delegated powers to allow a democratic debate on the issue of the despicable bedroom tax.

While Councillor Grahame Forster and I were not precious about who actually claimed the glory in regard to the protection of the sick, disabled and the poor that this odious and regressive tax will attack, we were happy to show leadership to the Labour group that submitted the 12-point plan on the bedroom tax and for others to follow like Councillor Collins.

The truth of the matter is the SNP Scottish government is in the position where it can introduce legislation now that could restore the £1.6 billion that will be taken out of the Scottish economy by this regressive tax.

Dumfries and Galloway will suffer with more than £1 million being lost to our economy. The SNP government has refused to do so.

Perhaps this is why Councillor Collins and his SNP colleagues did not want an open debate on the issue. We all know why the SNP friends in the Tory group did not want an open debate on the matter: it is David Cameron’s “poll tax II”.

Both political parties are equally culpable and responsible for the effect the bedroom tax will have on the most vulnerable within our communities.

I welcome the 12-point plan put forward by the Labour group but we need to go further and ensure nobody is evicted from their homes as a result of falling into arrears because of the bedroom tax.

We need to make sure maximum discretionary housing payments are made available to people who are deprived of housing benefit payments because they happen to have an extra bedroom by virtue of the fact that there are no suitable one-bedroom properties. We have to tell the people that they have a right of appeal and make sure the proper advice and assistance is given to those affected.

I held a meeting in Stranraer last Sunday on the bedroom tax and would ask what Councillor Collins has done to support and assist the people or is this beyond his exalted position?

Willie Scobie,

Non Aligned Councillor.

Planning

Shop sign was not unsightly

While planning laws have to be enforced – and maybe rightly so in the case of the Star Fish Express – the premises are not unsightly and the council’s actions may result in its closure if the cost cannot be met by the owner.

Councillor Graham Nicol said this will preserve the ambience of the town. What about the Grapes Hotel? What ambience there? Furthermore, why did the council planners, whose office is directly opposite the venue, let this happen under their noses?

E Oxenham,

Fernhill, Newton Stewart.