Readers' letters: Holyrood missing golden opportunity on free ports

“The Scottish government should to be considering all the available free port options”

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 12:00 am
CGI image showing proposed outer berth at the Port of Leith with floating foundation and offshore wind turbine which is part of the Leith Renewables Hub announced in May.

Holyrood missing golden opportunity

The Scottish government has offered no leadership on strategic port infrastructure, delegating instead to market forces.

Consequently, there is no political oversight of the latest Free Port manoeuvre by Forth Ports to tighten its monopoly further on the River Forth (News, July 28).

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The investment sums mentioned to date are paltry in comparison to what Forth Ports are investing on the Thames.

There we are witnessing billion pound sums spent on new facilities at Tilbury, with the promise of 25,000 jobs. Here we have a piecemeal plan, which amounts to a lick of paint over existing Victorian infrastructure and another opportunity lost.

While Scottish ministers wallow in a post Brexit sulk, the English regions are powering ahead with transformative ideas and serious investment.

We are missing a golden Free Port opportunity to introduce competition on our key central belt waterway, drive down costs for business and open up new modern trading facilities.

A suitable site for a new cruise/ferry facility, that could also accommodate freight, sits idle on the abandoned Cockenzie Power station land. It has a natural harbour with all the necessary connectivity by road and rail.

The Scottish government should to be considering all the available free port options, not just the one that’s pre-wrapped by a vested interest. It must act for the greater public good and deliver port infrastructure fit for purpose.

If the Forth “Free/Green” Port morphs into another opportunity for Forth Ports to raise its defensive moat then the chance to transform Scotland’s maritime fortunes will be lost for a generation.

Calum Miller, Polwarth Terrace, Prestonpans.

E-scooter menace

On Tuesday about 1pm I was driving through Kirkliston when I spotted a youth on an e-scooter riding on the road. Then he transferred to the pavement.

What are his parents thinking of giving him an e-scooter? It is illegal in Scotland to use an e-scooter other than on private land with that owner's agreement and certainly not on the roads or pavements.

In England there are e-scooter trials going on in 40 towns and cities and they are causing havoc as those who hire the e-scooters have been illegally riding on pavements and in shopping malls. These trials were allowed since our stupid politicians were told that e-scooters would be used in place of cars, thus reducing emissions.

Instead they have so far caused seven deaths and numerous injuries, most of them serious. The e-scooter trials should be terminated.

Clark Cross, Springfield Road, Linlithgow.

Facing big issue

Boris Johnson must be thanking his lucky stars that the successful vaccine roll-out by the NHS has masked the UK government’s deplorable management of the coronavirus pandemic.

He also must be thankful in the short term and with a little help from the media, that currently required coronavirus self-isolation in England is perceived as having caused the shortages in our supermarkets, when the Brexit debacle should be the primary focus of the public’s ire.

Of course, in Scotland ‘The Artful Dodger’ can rely on both Tory and Labour MSPs to distract from these disasters and other failings like ’The Plan’ for social care that hasn’t yet seen the light of day or the manifesto commitment to overseas aid that was ruthlessly abandoned.

Is it too much to hope that opposition MSPs will endeavour to address the ‘big issues’ on behalf of their Scottish electorate?

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry.