Letters: Wildlife withering with sightings on the decline

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We moved to East Lothian 17 years ago and during that time have noticed various ecological changes.

The buddleia in our front garden had so many butterflies in the summer that we could not count them.

There was an abundance of bumblebees, honeybees, wasps and various other insects. In the evening we could not leave the patio door open without being invaded by daddy-longlegs, moths, bluebottles, houseflies, spiders and other creatures.

In the winter-time spiders were abundant in the house and were assisted out of the bath.

Our bird table was frequented mostly by small birds, sparrows, starlings, blackbirds, various tits, the odd thrush, jackdaws and magpies.

This year we have seen three butterflies fluttering by, very few bumblebees, no honeybees, two wasps, no daddy-longlegs, two or three moths, a couple of bluebottles and houseflies, and three spiders.

Our bird table has been invaded by rooks and we have to encourage them to leave so that the small birds can feed. We have not seen a thrush this year, but have had visits from a sparrowhawk.

Is this due to the over-use of insecticides? Is it due to ‘plastic mulching’ of fields?

Have any of your readers had a similar experience? Is there any other reason for the decrease in insects?

Lesley and Bill Irvine, St Martin’s Gate, Haddington

Good time to recall the sacrifices of war

As next month is the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War for Britain, it is right that we remember those who made the supreme sacrifice and the many who survived but suffered dreadful injuries.

Recently a friend visited the First World War battlefields in Belgium and although he had visited them before he found the visit very moving.

It was said that the casualty rate was so high that everybody in the country knew somebody who was killed or injured – in my own family, two uncles and my grandfather.

Those with physical injuries had limited treatment that was available at the time. There were the ‘forgotten soldiers’ with neurological injuries, possibly many thousands. We will never know the figures because the injury was not recognized and there was no effective treatment.

These men had to go through the rest of their lives scarred mentally with only the help of their families.

Their story deserves to be told, particularly this year, by relatives who are able to recall. Just because you can’t see an injury does not mean it’s not there.

George Ritchie, North Gyle Terrace, Edinburgh

What does the future hold for Quartermile?

Investment in development is usually a good thing for Edinburgh. None more so than the announcement last week of 
£80 million for new Grade A offices to be built at Quartermile.

Sadly, though, we are still none the wiser as to when and what re-development (currently planned) will take place on the original infirmary buildings fronting on to Lauriston Place. That whole streetscape looks weary and unloved, to the point of now becoming an embarrassment.

It would be a disaster if another developer went into liquidation on this site, leaving behind a major part of the masterplan incomplete. Or, heaven forfend, continuing towards dereliction and put on the Buildings at Risk register.

Graham Davidson, Edinburgh

Independent Scottish finances can cope

A central plank of Donald Lewis’s claim (Letters, June 18) that an independent Scotland would be unable to weather an economic storm like the one in 2008 is his assertion that our annual GDP is no more than 
£76 billion.

I don’t know where Mr Lewis saw that figure, however it is both wrong and misleading. On the basis of those figures provided in reports by Government Expenditure & Revenue Scotland plus the Institute of Fiscal Studies, even if oil and gas revenues are disregarded the level of Scotland’s current GDP is nearer £120bn.

This fact alone probably goes some way towards explaining why the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (not a body yet affiliated to the pro-independence campaign so far as I know) confidently asserts that an independent Scotland would be the sixth richest in the industrialised world.

So far as Mr Lewis’s specific claim that an independent Scotland could not afford to bail out its banks is concerned, this is based upon an incorrect presumption about what Scotland’s level of liability would most likely be in such a situation.

As St Andrews University Professor of Economics Andrew Hughes Hallet explained on a BBC Newsweek Scotland programme in July 2011: “By international convention, when banks which operate in more than one country get into these sorts of conditions, the bailout is shared in proportion to the area of activities of those banks, and, therefore, it is shared between several countries.”

In the case of RBS, he pointed out, that would have meant the rest of the UK having to carry 90 per cent of its liabilities and Scotland ten per cent.

Is our nation destined to become a financial basket case if we vote ‘Yes’ in September’s referendum? I really don’t think so!

Mr Korstiaan Allan, Whitingford, Edinburgh