Letters: It is ridiculous to use Chernobyl to screw up nuclear power


RECENT letters illustrate the nuclear power illusions that seem to have gripped the Scottish Government. David Patrick (Letters, February 19) says he opposes nuclear power because of Chernobyl, the accident that occurred 36 years ago at a power plant in Ukraine, then part of the USSR. The Chernobyl power plant was poorly built and operated, and this is a scenario that makes accidents much more likely.

If Mr. Patrick thinks we should shut down all nuclear power plants, he probably also thinks we should ban flying. The USSR was desperate to be the first country in the world to produce a commercial supersonic airliner and built the Concordski, a real rip-off of the Franco-British Concorde. Concordski first flew on December 31, 1968, two months before its rival. One crashed at the Paris Air Show in 1973, another in 1978, and that was pretty much the end of Concordski.

Having spent my professional life as a pilot, it is sad to see that the marvel of air travel has been almost entirely lost. There you are, sitting in moderate comfort as you travel at 600 mph, six miles above land; outside, separated from you by a thin skin, the air temperature is -50°C and there is very little oxygen. An incredibly dangerous thing to do, but made safe to the point of being mundane by technology, design and human skill. It’s the same thing in the nuclear industry: several hundred nuclear power plants are operating safely around the world, and to extrapolate from an episode in Chernobyl is ridiculous.

Frances McKie (Letters, February 21) says nuclear is “a technology that doesn’t work.” Ms. McKie better inform French citizens, as they get 70% of their electricity from nuclear; indeed they sell us part of it when the wind is not blowing. There is no one solution to the energy and climate crises we face, but it would be the height of folly to put all our eggs in the rather unreliable basket of wind, solar and tides.

Maughan Pulp, Dunblane.


SOME historians believe that Russia and China pose less of a threat than Germany after it invaded Czechoslovakia in 1938.

But, among other things, the United States was the emerging dominant power, the United Kingdom with the Empire was still militarily important, China was relatively insignificant, and our enemies had no nuclear weapons. There was no Russia/China/Iran or equivalent axis controlling Europe’s energy supply, much of its economic needs, and with growing influence in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and in South America.

Will the leaders of democracies now accept that not only did the West not “win the Cold War”, but that if our enemy were not just Hitler’s Germany but all “Nazi” states, it is also premature to claim that we won the Second World War? War? The two wars only came to a halt, while the totalitarians, whether in red, brown or black shirts, secular or religious, indulged in “retreat to better jump”.

With its rise and cyber warfare capabilities, and our lack of leadership and self-confidence, this axis can detach itself in salami fashion from the weaknesses of democracies to impose its Orwellian future on the world while avoiding major military operations against us.

John Birkett, St Andrews.


I RECENTLY had the opportunity to file a complaint against the Bank of Scotland. The frustration that caused me to file a complaint in the first place was greatly intensified by the complaints process itself, which seems to operate on the principle that the customer is always wrong, despite the bank’s obvious failings. In my case, it was a nonsensical response to my original written request – asking for a signature that was already on my letter: a denial that the bank had my mobile phone number, despite the fact that I received two identical SMS from the bank to that number; failure to submit a promised form that the bank told me to complete; and the sloppy addressing of my correspondence.

The case is still not resolved. I was told it would take up to eight weeks to reach a decision on what should be a simple matter – closing a small account for a group of residents in a building (with their consent). I am one of the approved signatories on the account, with all transactions requiring two approved signatures. An anonymous complaints manager will call me indefinitely. And, of course, if I’m not satisfied, I can take my case to the Financial Conduct Authority. This is not comforting at all, because people have lost faith in regulators. They are seen as heavily stacked in favor of large institutions and against individual plaintiffs.

No doubt many other people will have had similar experiences.

Walter Humes, Newton Mearns.


LEAH Gunn Barrett (Letters, February 22) says the BBC always prioritizes England. But how will we know if or when that changes? I propose the next litmus test – it will be the day we hear a BBC presenter say not ‘And now to our Northern/Scottish/Irish/Welsh/Ukrainian/Lebanese correspondent’ but ‘Let’s move on to our English correspondent’. Bring the day…

Mike Bath, Balfron.

* AFTER Storms Dudley and Eunice I looked at the BBC News website and noted photos of the storm, its aftermath and damage. Photos were from across the UK – Brighton, E Sussex; Lyme Regis, Dorset; Ceredigion, Wales; Paisley, Scotland and Edinburgh, Scotland. I wrote complaints to the BBC (not the easiest) and reminded them that Wales and Scotland are not counties or regions of England. They replied that they couldn’t find the photographs I was referring to. Besides, it changes.

Steve Barnett, Gargunnock.


IN his article on Scotland’s problems, Andy Maciver writes that he saw the light at the end of the tunnel (“We can’t start sorting through Scotland’s problems until we hold another vote for Independence”, The Herald, February 22).

I believe it was the late Flight Lieutenant John Quinton who wrote that politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy another tunnel.

David Miller, Milgavie.

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