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YOUR VIEWS: Highland Council social values charter, heating changes and NHS Highland staff costs


By Features Reporter

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YOUR CAITHNESS: Liam Sinclair sent this image of what he believes are noctilucent clouds over Holborn Head.
YOUR CAITHNESS: Liam Sinclair sent this image of what he believes are noctilucent clouds over Holborn Head.

What good will social charter do?

Today (June 27) a little more local democracy died in the debating chamber of Highland Council.

Councillors in their ‘wisdom’ voted through the Social Values Charter for Renewables Investment with no public consultation and no agreement with the industry to pay anything more than the previously accepted £5000 per MW installed.

Quite what the point in doing so was without industry agreement to cough up 2.5 times that amount is unfathomable. Trade association Scottish Renewables had written to all the councillors prior to the meeting baulking at the very thought of reducing their members’ rich pickings pleading little more than corporate poverty. Forgive us if our sympathies do not lie with government backed multinationals harvesting the Highlands for their profits. They lie firmly with the ‘little people’ routinely stomped over and ignored as the Big Energy gravy train hurtles down the track through their communities.

The majority of councillors present CHOSE to ignore public opinion, including those representing their communities from Caithness to Beauly standing outside council offices to greet them, and thirty-nine voted for the charter. Twenty-three voted for an amendment asking for the public to be consulted and for full mapping of all renewable and transmission projects to allow cumulative impact to be transparent and easily available to everyone.

Well done to those who backed democracy and shame on those who appear to have ideas above their station and their heads firmly planted in the sand when it comes to understanding public opinion. It appears to those looking in as ill advised grandstanding and muscle flexing rather than being a competent process.

Now not only are we having to fight ruthless global investment companies determined to destroy our lives and environment for profit but also the very people who are supposed to represent us.

A full list of who voted against local democracy and for this ‘Weasel’s Charter’* should be made available so we all know who NOT to vote in again if we want our voices heard.

Lyndsey Ward

Spokeswoman for Communities B4 Power Companies

Beauly

* NB Weasel’s Charter referred to by Councillor Rhuaridh Stewart having heard it being called that previously.

Change to Radio Teleswitch Service

Your readers may be interested to hear of an upcoming change to the Radio Teleswitch Service (RTS) used by around 250,000 households and businesses in Scotland to heat their properties.

Ofgem has advised that the technology to support RTS energy meters will be fully decommissioned on June 30, 2025. From July 31, 2025, RTS meters may no longer function properly, causing disruption to heating and hot water supply.

You may use an RTS meter if your property: has a meter that switches between peak and off-peak tariff rates, such as Economy 7 or Economy 10, or a Total Heating Total Control (THTC) tariff; has a meter that automatically turns on your heating or hot water; is heated using electric or storage heaters; or is located in a no-gas supply area (off-grid), especially in rural areas.

Energy infrastructure and regulation is the responsibility of the UK government. However, given the potential impact of this upcoming change, I have written to all major energy suppliers urging them to prioritise properties with RTS connections when progressing their smart meter roll-out programmes.

Energy suppliers should proactively contact consumers using RTS to arrange a replacement smart meter. For those unable to install a smart meter, your supplier should offer you an alternative solution to avoid any service disruption or detriment.

If you have any questions, I encourage you to contact your supplier in the first instance. You can also get free and impartial advice and support from Advice Direct Scotland (0800 028 1456) or Citizens Advice Scotland (0800 028 1456).

Gillian Martin

Minister for Climate Action

Scottish Government

ONLINE VIEWS

NHS Highland £21m temporary staff costs ‘very worrying’

I can heartily relate to the problems of medical and dental staffing in Caithness. For 31 years I was a medical staffing manager in the NHS. As an exiled Scot, my work was all done in England, but I see some parallels to my experience of finding suitably qualified and experienced staff for hard to fill posts in areas that are perceived as unattractive.

My first post was on the Isle of Wight, which was a lot like Caithness in its non-appeal to M&D staff. I was the first person in the UK to go abroad looking for staff in A&E and neonatal paediatrics, which I did twice in two years in the 1980s. One of my recruits later became my GP!

The most effective way of attracting doctors and dentists is to ensure that there is a thriving community of postgraduate activity – which can be online – for them to tap into. The worst thing is for doctors or dentists to feel cut off from communication with their like-minded colleagues.

I'm afraid that while the NHS is funded in the way it is, there is little hope of a consultant-based service, which would be the gold standard. It is impossible to do more activity with less money year on year.

Anne Brodie

Mid Clyth

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