Your picture of the week
Ewan Dickson supplied us with this view from near Hadden farm, Sprouston.Please email photographs, with a brief caption, to [email protected]
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
BAND’S BATTLE CRY OVER CLOSURE
As one of its most frequent users, Jedforest Instrumental Band is devastated to hear about the possible demise of Jedburgh Town Hall.
It is a venue which we hire at least three times a year for our spring, autumn and Christmas concerts. With a collective audience of over 500 paying customers per year, this contributes a third of our annual income.
We would have expected any discussions and consultations regarding the closing of this facility by Scottish Borders Council to have included ourselves – as well as the many other local organisations who regularly hire the venue. No such contact has ever been made.
If the intention of closing the hall was on the agenda when the decision was taken to build the new school, then it would seem a reasonable assumption that the regular hirers would have had an input of some description into the design and layout of the intended build so that it was truly a multi-purpose venue which met all diverse needs. We should have at least been asked to attend a site visit to the school during construction to gauge its viability for the events for which we regularly hire the town hall.
Rumours circulate on what is and is not available within the new school hall – availability of a stage, lighting, scope for a temporary bar, accessibility for older people? These, and many other questions, require answers, and a visit to the site should have been arranged with all interested parties to satisfy our many concerns.
Discussions on booking the venue for this year’s concerts with the current managers of the town hall, Live Borders, have suggested that the closure decision has already been made.
A town hall is not a luxury. It is an integral part of the local community and every effort by the council and Live Borders should be made to see its continuation.
We, as a local organisation, will fight this matter all the way.
A CLEAR THREAT TO OUR FARMERS
Last Thursday Douglas Ross MP, currently parliamentary under-Secretary of State at the Westminster “Scotland Office”, was roundly booed at the NFU Scotland AGM for suggesting that, yes, in post-Brexit trade deals, sub-standard food which would currently be illegal to produce in the UK would be allowed to flood the market here, the only protection for our farmers being “clear labelling”.
Given the ongoing campaign by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to replace “Scottish” branding with “British” for purely political reasons, it’s not clear even what this “clear labelling” would consist of.
As NFUS president Andrew McCornick replied to Mr Ross, this: “This means there will be two sets of standards – one for us, this high standard – and a standard anyone who has a low price can come into the country with”.
The threat to our farmers and other producers from this is clear, and needs no further words from me.
PLACING OUR TRUST IN BORDERERS
Borders Forest Trust was established after a large-scale community consultation back in 1996.
We are an environmental charity that works in the south of Scotland to restore, conserve and manage native woodlands and natural habitats for the benefit of people and wildlife. Our valuable local woodland resource provides the venue for our ‘people projects’, e.g. community woodlands, outdoor learning and forest schools, volunteering and Branching Out. These aim to maximise opportunities for recreation, environmental education, improved health and wellbeing, and wildlife conservation.
We are fast approaching our 25th anniversary (2021) and we would like to know what you would like to see us do next? What could our future hold? How can we potentially support you and your community’s aspirations, plans and ideas for environmental themed projects? Where could we plant more trees?
We are really interested in hearing the thoughts and ideas of our Borders community to help inform the most meaningful and productive future direction of our community and education outreach project work.
If you are interested in having a say, please take part in our survey at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/QXTBDJK Printable electronic copies with Freepost return are available by request. Email [email protected]
(community and education
Borders Forest Trust
CLIMATE CHANGE ENLIGHTENMENT
I don’t think we’re going to convince the climate change deniers who write letters to Borders newspapers of the fact that we are in a climate and ecological emergency.
Oh well. I shan’t lose sleep over it.
Happily, we live in an enlightened country where 95% of people accept that we are in a climate emergency for which humankind is partly or wholly responsible (1). And they’re right. 97% of climate scientists also agree that humankind has caused the climate and ecological emergency that we are in (2).
People who deny that we’re in a climate emergency are wrong. And those who write letters to this paper are wasting their time.
Readers – feel free to avoid wasting yours by ignoring them.
(1) J. Cook, et al “Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming”. Environmental Research Letters 2016.
(2) YouGov-Cambridge Globalisation Project 2019.
Dr Joanna Bredski
Donald McPhillimy and Frances Ryan (letters, February 6) are upset that people such as me are exposing the futility of the UK spending trillions of pounds on climate change when other countries are still building coal-fired power plants and extracting oil and shale gas to enrich their countries.
We have been lied to for years by the climate-change apostles whose predictions failed to materialise.
Here is only a small selection of previous Climate Doomsday predictions. 1970 – we’ll be in an Ice Age by 2000; 1976 – global cooling will cause a world war by 2000; 1988 –the Maldives Islands will be submerged in less than three decades; 1989 – global warming and rising sea levels will wipe entire nations off the map by 2000; 1999 – The Himalayan glaciers will be gone in 10 years; 2008 – the Arctic will be ice-free by 2013.
In his 2006 film, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, Al Gore said sea levels would rise by 20ft “in the very near future”. Donald McPhillimy and Francis Ryan might like to tell readers when the remaining 19ft 11.7in will occur.
To prove their green credentials they might also like to pledge never to travel in a petrol/diesel vehicle, turn off their gas supply and not fly.
I see the SNP is continuing to scare people about “leaving Europe” after Brexit.
We are not leaving Europe. We are leaving the EU. The EU morphed from a common market to a centralising supranational organisation following the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties. It continues to strip sovereignty from its member states and transfer it to an ever more powerful centre.
Even now EU negotiator Michel Barnier tells us that we must follow the EU’s dictats and regulations if we are to have free access to each other’s markets.
What would be the point of Brexit if we did that? The whole point of Brexit is to be able to make our own laws – not have them made for us.
The SNP Europhiles claim that it is only because of the EU that social and environmental protection in Britian has been implemented.
This flies in the face of the facts. The EU only introduced paternity leave last year – the UK introduced it 20 years ago. The EU provides 14 weeks paid maternity leave, the UK 39 weeks. The UK has a higher minimum wage than 24 EU states.
Our standards in animal husbandary and welfare are higher than anything in the European Union.
The UK banned veal crates 16 years before the EU. We have banned ivory imports – the EU is “consulting”. We do not keep pigs tethered in stalls, or force-feed geese, or eat horse meat, or stab bulls to death.
Nor do we gas, stun and injure protesters with tear gas grenades as the French police do on the streets of Paris.
We do not pay our bureaucrats 20,219 euros a month, an expatriation allowance of 2,260 euros a month, a household allowance of 444 euros a month, a child allowance of 820 euros a month, an education allowance of 1,113 euros a month and a daily subsistence allowance of 517 euros, plus travel allowances (European Union figures).
It was symbolic that Prime Minister Boris Johnson made his first speech after Brexit Day – a day to be celebrated – at Greenwich, on the meridian, the zero degree of longitude established by Alnwick-born George Airy, and which laid the foundation for accurate ocean navigation.
For Britain is embarking on a new voyage buoyed by hope and optimism and the innovation and resolve of her people.
DISHONOURING OUR FATHERS
I was at the ‘Shine a light for Scotland’ vigil in Moffat on Friday, January 31, and I was very moved by it.
Personally, I feel we should not have left the EU and this will be seriously detrimental for Scotland.
My father and father-in-law were both in the RAF during the Second World War. They and many others like them sacrificed years of their lives during the war.
I feel we have dishonoured them as we leave the European Union. My father and father-in-law were very European in their outlook and saw the EU as a way of stopping another major war in Europe. There has not been a major European war since the Second World War.
We should not forget the sacrifices they made for us and Europe.
STAND BY FOR PASSPORT QUEUES
Every administrative area of Scotland voted to remain in the European Union in 2016, including all three Border constituencies.
Unlike our English friends, Scots know the value of the EU; it’s not perfect, but it is an evolving institution.
It guarantees many protections for ordinary citizens regarding the quality of foodstuffs, the environment, workers’ rights and tariff-free markets.
Although 38% of Scottish voters wanted to leave the EU in 2016, that has now fallen to 27% as people realise the many benefits which will be erased by Brexit.
You may not notice much difference for the next 11 months as we are now in the transition period. After next December though, be ready to stand in passport queues for ages as you arrive for your holiday in the sun.
However, the desire to stay in the Union with England is strong among people in the Border counties which is not surprising after 300 years of cohabitation and propaganda. That was reflected in the results of last year’s general election.
Some say we have been in the Union too long now to repeal it, and it would be too complicated anyway. Ireland was ruled by London for 800 years before regaining its independence, tragically after a very bloody battle.
But after southern Ireland gained its freedom it blossomed, especially after it joined the EU. Eire began its independence from abject poverty, but just look at the country now. No austerity there!
But even the 2019 GE results are painting different pictures from 2017 in the Border counties. Support for the SNP increased between 6% and 8% in these constituencies, and even the Lib Dems saw their support rise by about 3% with the promise of a “People’s Vote”. Are attitudes changing as farmers and fishermen, and all the ancillary industries, become aware of the bleak future for their produce in the EU?
A POWERFUL POINT OF VIEW
One thing is completely missing from the announcement that a ban on new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars will be brought forward to 2035 at the latest – any indication of where the electricity is going to come from to power all the replacement electrical vehicles.
If all our vehicles were to be electric, we would need to more than double UK electricity generation.
Current annual UK electricity production is around 335 TWh (TeraWatt hours). The energy in all the petrol and diesel we use annually is around 475 TWh. If only the domestic and light commercial vehicles went electric, that would still require about 375 TWh each year. If, in addition, we replace all our domestic gas usage with electricity, we will need around another 510 TWh.
In other words, we will need to more than triple our electricity generation.
At the same time we have spent years demolishing fossil fuel power stations, which provide round the clock baseload electricity, and replacing them with wind turbines which can only provide expensive part-time electricity.
Nor are we building lots of nuclear power stations, which provide a low carbon alternative source of caseload power.
The unavoidable conclusion is that a carbon-neutral economy is a cynical and dangerous fantasy.
READING IS A GREAT EQUALISER
Reading opened wide world portals for me in my own childhood.
It allowed my imagination to soar and to travel to places beyond whatever situation I found myself in.
Reading is a great equaliser – it inspires us to meet our fellow humans, to understand, empathise and enter landscapes we could never dream of experiencing in one lifetime. Reading contributes to a better quality of life, impacts on our health, spirit, educational opportunities and well being… it connects us to each other and our own humanity.
I have seen first-hand – through working with refugee children forced to travel and surviving alone, without family – what a transformational impact escaping into a book can have in helping them to keep hope alive in unimaginably unstable situations they should never have to face. To hear a child laugh and reconnect to childhood in these harsh circumstances is life affirming.
It is out of this instinct that I created a magical story hive in my book, Where The River Runs Gold, where the children take refuge whenever they need.
However, for millions of children across the globe, especially those displaced and living in war-torn countries, access to this story hive of books is closed to them.
I want every child to be able to reach for that book that brings them light.
That’s why this World Book Day (Thursday, March 5) I’m supporting Book Aid International. Their fundraising efforts mean more children and young people will have access to books. Every day I’m inspired by the stories children have to tell and being a part of World Book Day means we can spread the enjoyment of reading even further.
Just £2 helps send another book, giving children the opportunity to read, learn and have fun. The Book Aid International website (www.bookaid.org) has plenty of exciting World Book Day fundraising ideas for schools and parents. Whether you host a Big Booky Breaktime, have a sponsored Read-A-Thon or run your own unique fundraising event, it will have a positive effect.