LETTERS: Lost chances to improve our transport structure

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Martin Hannan (Evening News, December 8) is right to highlight the chronic lack of an integrated transport infrastructure in modern Scotland, but the current Scottish Government is playing catch up as, in the years when Scottish oil revenues contributed a £300 billion taxation surplus to the UK Treasury, Westminster spent a pittance on Scotland’s road and rail network.

Following fierce opposition from Labour-controlled Edinburgh City Council, Tony Blair’s government cancelled a proposed second Forth Road Bridge.

In 1995 at Westminster Alistair Darling had called the proposed second Forth road crossing ‘this ridiculous bridge’ and more recently at Holyrood Labour’s business manager James Kelly called the new Queensferry Crossing a ‘vanity project’.

Opposition MSPs ganged up on the SNP to force through the Edinburgh tram project, thus delaying the upgrading of the A9 and only now is work underway to complete the whole of the Edinburgh to Glasgow M8/A8 up to a mere two lane motorway status.

Contrary to what John Carson claims, the Labour-controlled Forth Estuary Transport Authority, not Transport Scotland, was responsible for bridge maintenance until June this year and it seems that in 2009 FETA delayed vital repairs to the Forth Road Bridge joints to 2016 in order to save £6 million.

Fraser Grant, Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh

Population growth drives climate change

According to the World Population Clock the population today is 7.39 billion and growing fast.

By comparison 1950 was 2.56 billion and 2000 was 6.09 billion. By 2031 it will be 8.49 billion and by 2074 10.38 billion.

These increases will swamp the present mega-expensive, yet futile, efforts to reduce CO2 emissions.

China, India, Brazil and other developing countries will burn coal to grow their economies.

People cause pollution and I would suggest that escalating population growth, not climate change, is the real problem that will not be solved with the expensive, unreliable wind turbines and heavily subsidised solar panels deployed in the West.

Why is this out-of-control population growth not up for discussion at the UN Climate Conference in Paris?

Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow

Airport tax cut won’t lead to more business

FRASER GRANT (Letters, December 4), claims that the SNP is proposing to reduce Air Passenger Duty (APD) by 50% in 2018 and that this reduction is expected to almost pay for itself by generating extra airport traffic, tourism income, etc. Where is the evidence for this?

If a decrease in APD is expected to increase airport traffic, then it follows that an increase in APD should result in a decrease in airport traffic. Clearly this is not supported by historical evidence. When APD was introduced in the UK in 1994, the airport traffic continued to increase.

Hence, not reducing the APD would enable the Scottish Government to obtain part of the finance required for the compensation for welfare cuts.

I certainly agree with him that we need to invest in Scottish education, since Scotland is currently falling behind in international league tables. There are clearly different estimates of how much money can be raised by increasing the top rate of tax to 50%. For example, the Scottish Parliament Information Centre gives an estimate of £34 million (Evening News, December 5). Clearly this amount would make a significant contribution towards extra funding for the education of pupils in deprived areas.

Fraser Grant is correct in stating that there will initially be constraints on the Scottish Parliament to set the various tax rates. These constraints, however, are to be gradually removed (Ian Swanson, Evening News, December 2). Surely this is a sensible way to proceed in order to have a smooth and orderly transition to the devolved powers set out in the Scotland Bill.

John Higinbotham, Bruntsfield Gardens, Edinburgh

Extremism has nothing to do with secularism

Stephen Crabb, the Welsh secretary has claimed that ‘hard-edged’ secularism in Britain is partly to blame for ‘aiding and abetting’ extremism, as ‘mainstream religion is marginalised in public life.’

We wonder if Mr Crabb (a Christian who voted against marriage equality) would welcome Imams in the House of Lords or is it just his own religion he wants privileged in public life?

As good people of all faiths work to de-literalise their holy books we still hear of Christian terrorism where American doctors are attacked or killed for performing abortions as part of their job, yet we seldom hear their actions condemned as non-Christian.

Much of the nasty stuff so literally espoused by Daesh is found in the old testament of the Bible, which is shared by all Abrahamic believers.

Maybe the answer to extremism is not to have more ‘mainstream’ religion but to unpick all of our religiously based moral shortcuts and that begins at home.

Neil Barber, Edinburgh Secular Society, Saughtonhall Drive

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