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YOUR VIEWS: Support for nuclear power, electricity scheme objections and plea to include deaf community

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YOUR CAITHNESS: Lybster Harbour before the rain started. Picture: Derek Bremner
YOUR CAITHNESS: Lybster Harbour before the rain started. Picture: Derek Bremner

Not everyone who supports nuclear is a Dounreay worker

Every time I read an interview with anti-nuclear campaigner Tor Justad he rakes up the “sins of the past”.

It is of course true that in the experimental days of nuclear power there were mistakes made; as with any new technology, the industry was feeling its way in the dark and some workers were less careful than they should have been.

We are indeed paying for that now but today the technology is more advanced, much safer and also more reliable than weather dependent forms of energy; with modular reactors now being seen as a stop-gap on the way to the form of energy that quite literally keeps us all alive – nuclear fusion.

In the John O’Groat Journal of Friday, June 7, Mr Justad is quoted as saying: “So the claim that Highlanders want nuclear power has no basis in fact and any support is likely to come from nuclear employees at Dounreay.”

I have never worked at Dounreay and would be interested to hear where the survey showing a 62per cent preference for renewables over nuclear was conducted? I certainly saw no such survey here in Caithness, where the nuclear industry helped take the county out of decline and enabled a large portion of the population to live a comfortable life that would have been impossible without the industry; whereas the wind industry is simply burying the county in concrete and steel for the sake of a few watts of power - when the weather permits.

Scotland only produces around 0.9 per cent of world CO2 emissions, so it is clear that if we were to disappear beneath the sea tomorrow it would make no difference to climate change. We should be thinking about how we can best serve our population with what we have available, rather than driving more and more people into fuel poverty for the sake of looking politically good.

There is much hype about the benefits of wind power but in reality they cause much permanent, hidden damage to the environment in that hundreds of thousands of tonnes of steel and concrete for turbine bases are being put into the ground, never to be removed and, although it is not widely publicised, concrete manufacture is a massive creator of CO2 emissions.

That, alongside the strip mining, river and farmland pollution and use of child labour to obtain the rare earth minerals used in the manufacture of turbine parts (and also electric car batteries), further compounds the environmental damage.

In “going green” we are buying huge amounts of material from China, which in manufacture, is causing their emissions to increase. What we are really doing is moving our pollution to the other side of the world so that we can boast low emissions.

In conclusion, I suggest that there is a place for nuclear power alongside other forms of energy production and Mr Justad should stop thinking that everyone agrees with him in his apparent loathing of our best hope for a reliable source of power, until we master the fusion process and can do away with all other less efficient forms of energy production.

Paul Simonite

Station House


Could existing powerline be upgraded?

I am writing in response to Peter McKessick’s letter published in the John O’Groat Journal regarding the groundwork investigations in preparation for the controversial plans to upgrade the power lines between Caithness and Beauly.

You raise a critical point about the necessity of gathering information. It stands to reason that all pertinent data should have been collected before determining the route’s suitability. This step is fundamental to any well-considered infrastructure project and ensures that decisions are based on comprehensive, reliable information.

Your findings and the assertions made by Dunbeath/Berriedale Community Say NO to PYLONS Action Group highlight significant inconsistencies in the statements made by SSEN. At the public meeting last year, SSEN representatives categorically dismissed the possibility of upgrading the existing lines, citing technical constraints. However, your report contradicts this position, confirming that the existing infrastructure can indeed support the upgrade.

This discrepancy raises serious concerns about SSEN’s transparency and credibility. It appears that their assessments and considerations are self-serving rather than genuinely addressing the community’s concerns and the project’s technical feasibility.

If the existing lines can be upgraded, it is perplexing and alarming that SSEN insists on pursuing a more invasive and destructive option.

The community’s frustration is palpable and justified. We deserve clear, honest communication from SSEN, especially when the devastating changes have such significant impacts on our land and lives. The pursuit of this project with apparent disregard for viable alternatives that minimise disruption is troubling.

The truth is SSEN will make more money from building the 400kV pylon line than they will from upgrading the existing one, despite the consequences to the Highland people. It seems SSEN’s capability to tell the truth is non-existent.

Dunbeath/Berriedale Community Say NO to PYLONS Action Group

Deaf community have right to share with nation

The morning after the general election, July 5, will be a historic moment for the UK. Whether it is delivered by a re-elected or newly elected Prime Minister, their speech to the nation will be a moment of national significance.

It's a moment that should be accessible to every voter in the UK, including the 87,000 members of the deaf community who use British Sign Language (BSL).

The deaf community has continually been excluded during these key broadcasts from No.10 because of the lack of a BSL interpreter. RNID has long tried to work with the government to ensure that access is provided for the deaf community.

A public service announcement is just that, but by not including deaf people the Prime Minister is removing their right to have the information at the same time as everyone else.

RNID has written to both Sir Kier Starmer and Rishi Sunak offering them the use of our interpreter for their victory speech on July 5. Their speech to the nation will be the start of a new chapter in our country’s history and they cannot lock the deaf community out.

I encourage all your readers to join our call and sign our letter to make this election inclusive of everyone at rnid.org.uk

Michael Quinlan

Advocacy manager


Climate change is affecting working animals

António Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, recently announced: “Scientists have just confirmed that May 2024 was the hottest May in history, marking 12 straight months of the hottest months ever. Our planet is trying to tell us something, but we don’t seem to be listening.”

Meanwhile, the World Bank estimates that by 2030, the climate crisis could push over 120 million more people into poverty globally.

One aspect of the climate crisis that is often overlooked is its devastating impact on working animals who support low-income communities. In many cases, dangerous conditions are a worsening problem for working animals and are threatening the survival of many animals globally.

Working animals like horses, donkeys and camels have a vital role in their community. From carting heavy goods to transporting families, they are fundamental to livelihoods and the survival of communities.

This forgotten workforce is struggling to endure extreme weather conditions, highlighting the urgent need for global action to protect them. In the past year, severe flooding and landslides have caused terrible destruction in Tanzania and Iraq – and countries in North and West Africa have experienced a deadly heatwave, something I saw and experienced during my visit to Mali in May this year.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe, Tunisia and Namibia are just some of the countries struggling through a prolonged drought. These events have made life for working animals more precarious than ever and have left owners struggling to feed, care for or even keep their working animals.

SPANA works across the world providing lifesaving care and support to working animals experiencing the devastating effects of the climate crisis. Through essential veterinary support, we are able to offer a lifeline to animals in desperate need.

We are working to transform the lives of working animals and create a world where animals, people and the environment are respected and thrive. After International Working Animal Day (June 15), please find out how you can show your support for working animals affected by the climate crisis by visiting: www.spana.org/climate

Linda Edwards

Chief executive

SPANA (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad)

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