Act now to let people move into empty homes

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THE city council is to be congratulated for starting to take the problem of empty homes seriously (News, June 6). The recent Audit Scotland report into the council highlighted the housing challenge facing the city and there is no way that we should be considering the loss of greenbelt land while there are still so many homes lying empty.

So two cheers for the new Empty Homes Loan Fund and for the decision to increase council tax for owners who choose to leave properties empty for longer than a year. But it is still not enough.

Throughout the UK, the lesson of every single council which has successfully tackled empty homes is that one-to-one specialist engagement with owners is what makes the real difference. Up to two-thirds of empty homes are brought back into use simply by someone hand-holding the owner through the process.

This is what the city council still needs to do. Without that commitment Edinburgh will have the empty homes scaffolding in place but no-one doing the actual work.

Cllr Steve Burgess, Greens housing spokesperson, City Chambers

Knowledge helps us celebrate diversity

Following the incident in Woolwich and the anti-Islamic backlash in its aftermath, much speculation has been made around Islam as a religion and Muslim people in general, despite the condemnation by the British Muslim Council and other organisations in Britain.

It is only when children are taught about other religions and cultures that they learn to embrace and celebrate diversity.

There are similarities as well as differences between cultures and religion, and it is important that we highlight similarities that cultures and religions have to one another. In the current turn of events, promoting cross-cultural dialogue and mutual understanding to strengthen ties between communities is more pressing than ever.

The knowledge and understanding of other religions and cultures are foundations that will help in bridging communities and bringing about a culture of solidarity and celebration of diversity.

The reactions of some parents quoted in the News (June 5) signals that mosques have been misunderstood as preaching hate.

I attend Central Mosque and can assure all parents that hate and violence are not taught there.

The killing in Woolwich is a crime, which cannot be associated with the principles of Islam. Each of these recent incidents and the cycle of violence sparked cannot be addressed in isolation. The need is to tackle the very narrative of hate, violence and extremism, and the structural factors that help sustain such ills in our society.

The events, however, give us a critical insight into the urgency of creating more opportunities for dialogue between communities. They further shed light on the need to diagnose the root causes behind all forms of extremism, prejudice and hate. I hope that all the parents will encourage their children to attend the next visit.

Foysol Choudhury MBE, chair, Edinburgh & Lothians Regional Equality Council

Dr Inglis was not part of militant movement

In your piece about Dr Elsie Inglis, who came second in your Edinburgh’s Greatest list, you referred to Dr Inglis as a “suffragette” (News, May 31).

While Dr Inglis was indeed a leader of the women’s suffrage movement in Scotland, she was never a suffragette. The suffragettes were militants, and Elsie deplored their tactics.

The term “suffragette” was coined to distinguish the militants from the “suffragists”, whose campaigning was always strictly within the law. Elsie was a suffragist.

C S Lincoln, Pentland Drive, Edinburgh

Turn for the worse for ‘green’ turbines

I have been aware for some time that old and broken wind turbine blades cannot be recycled but was not aware of the extent of the 
problem. A key material in constructing wind turbine blades is carbon fibre composite and there is no solution to reusing the blades.

The incineration of plastics is banned because of the potential release of toxic by-products, so that leaves blades to be put in landfill.

It is calculated that by 2034 there will be a mountain of 225,000 tonnes of unwanted rotor blade waste material. A lot of not-so-green landfill.

It gets worse.

Neodymium is the rare earth metal needed to make the magnets for the wind turbine motor and this is mined in China causing an appalling environmental impact.

The huge man-made lake of poison in northern China also caused severe health problems.

So our fixation with “green” wind power in Britain is causing pollution and health problems on a disastrous scale in China.

Still think that wind turbines are “green” and are saving the planet?

Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow

Zealots only speak for a tiny minority

The frequent media appearances that proliferate in some of our TV, radio and newspapers from tiny bodies of secular activists claiming that they are only wanting to remove religious “privilege”, for example from schools and local authorities, will not impress many readers.

In my opinion these strident, sparsely supported little organisations want nothing less than to detach Scotland from its Christian heritage after centuries that shape and have shaped our culture.

Yet who are these unrepresentative pressure groups with their tiny memberships of a few hundred zealots to demand this?

Gus Logan, York Road, North Berwick