Renewing the energy debate

I agree with George Miller (letters, August 25) that the countryside in the Borders is beautiful and that we must endeavour to preserve its beauty, not only for ourselves and our visitors, but for the generations to come.

However, he talks of the many people who come to visit the Borders. How are they going to get here when the cost of transport becomes prohibitive because oil is running out or becoming increasingly expensive to extract?

I believe a time may come when both private and public transport can be run on energy from renewable sources such as wind and wave farms, and solar power.

I have recently returned from a long walk in France along the valley of the River Loire, another area of spectacular natural beauty.

Along the way we encountered many nuclear power stations – monstrous ugly constructions, heavily fortified and belching out voluminous white clouds. The way they were guarded spoke for the dangers within. We also visited a wind farm, situated on a hill – a beautiful combination of elegance and utility.

I know which of these energy sources I would prefer to see situated in the Borders. The power stations are massive, dangerous and, even if decommissioned, will take years to deconstruct and forever to become safe. Nuclear waste remains active for thousands of years.

The horrors of Chernobyl should have been enough for us to close down all our nuclear facilities. The current horror of Fukushima (we won’t know for a long time what the full impact of this nuclear disaster will be) has led Germany to phase out all nuclear power generation.

I fail to understand why the government at Westminster is planning to commission more nuclear power stations and why the Scottish Parliament does not treat the decommissioning of Scottish power stations as a matter of urgency.

Wind turbines may not be to everyone’s aesthetic taste, but are a much safer option than nuclear power. They can be situated discreetly and can be removed and the land returned to its original state. Nuclear power stations are much harder to remove and will leave a legacy of radioactive contamination and an as yet unsolved problem of nuclear waste.

Meanwhile, we have a duty to the environment to reduce our energy consumption, both individually and as a community. If we value our environment we must work together to find solutions to problems of our own making.

Kath McDonald