Overlooking the River Tweed towards Newstead and the iconic Eildon Hills on a summer’s day.
This image was supplied by Curtis Welsh. Please email photographs, with a brief caption, to firstname.lastname@example.org
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
DETAILED REBUTTAL OF ASSESSMENT
One could be a little confused by the letter (June 20) from Ian Aikman, head of planning at Scottish Borders Council, critical of the Southern Reporter and the applicant’s views of the delegated decision to refuse the application for four eco-houses at Thornwood Lodge, Hawick.
Mr Aikman is right that planning officers should pride themselves on their integrity and professionalism. The public deserves and expects this. But no one should pretend that this application was handled properly or effectively.
My own planning qualification is a science degree. I expect all planners to adopt a rigorous evidence-based approach to planning appraisal. This did not happen.
My assertion of a ‘muddled’ officer’s report, ‘full of errors and contradictions’ is not ‘an unchecked commentary’. On the contrary, it is an expert professional opinion, comprehensively substantiated by the detailed rebuttal of the officer’s assessment that I sent to Mr Aikman three months ago. It is available on the planning portal with the appeal documents.
Planning needs to be positive about the value of development to the economy, jobs and the environment, and recognise the vital importance of climate change and engage directly with applicants.
I’ve had to lay off staff and defer investment because of this decision, and it pains me to have to do this. The refusal has already directly affected people’s lives.
Collaboration is essential in shaping our future built environment and communities. Had the case officer accepted these principles of open dialogue prior to determination, the appeal could have been avoided.
Borders Low Carbon
PULLING OUT SELECTIVE FACTOIDS
Well, this debate on climate change could run and run, it seems.
William Loneskie and Neil Bryce (letters, June 27) must have a lot of time on their hands to pull out selective factoids to illustrate their scepticism that mankind has accelerated climate change or that we can do anything about it. I’m sure the long-suffering reader doesn’t want a tit-for-tat response from me.
Either you believe the United Nations, the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, 97% of scientists and almost all national leaders, with the notable exception of Donald J. Trump, or you are a climate-change denier/sceptic/conspiracy theorist. I prefer to believe the former.
It reminds me of a cartoon, when a man in a lecture theatre, listening to a lecture on climate change, asks: “But what if we change the world for the better, give up fossil fuels, find ways to live sustainably, remove plastics from the ocean, protect endangered species and then discover that climate change isn’t real?”
COSTLY GREEN VIRTUE SIGNALLING
Brian and Lesley Robertson, and Donald McPhillimy are upset that William Loneskie has challenged their belief that mankind is solely responsible for climate change and that mankind must reduce emissions to net zero by 2050 or fry (letters, June 20).
I will not “only offer denial”, but reality.
Scotland is responsible for 0.13% of global emissions and the UK 1.3%, so would it not be better for protesters to target China (30%), India or Indonesia which are still increasing emissions as they burn fossil fuels?
The world is turning against this mega-expensive green virtue signalling.
Germany has eight coal-fired power plants emitting at least 50% of Britain’s emissions from all sources. Germany refuses to pass a legally-binding Climate Change Act. The new government of Queensland in Australia has given final approval to open coal fields the size of the United Kingdom.
According to Chancellor Phillip Hammond, reducing emissions to net zero by 2050 will cost taxpayers £1trillion.
The world continues to burn coal to drive economies, yet the UK plans to waste £1trillion that would be better spent on the NHS, education, police – and even a few potholes and TV licences.
CREATION NEEDS A CREATOR
I can’t help but wonder that in all of our searching, in all of our wants, our basic needs, hopes and desires, especially in relation to our planet, that are we looking in the wrong direction?
If we truly care about our planet, surely we should seek to request of the creator of the ends of the Earth a way to direct and support us.
Am I concerned about fossil fuels, carbon footprints, climate change or environmental disaster? No, because I believe in that creator and he has to be in control.
Of course, we should try and not be wasteful and as human beings we have been given purpose and opportunity. However, If we ignore the God who gave us life, we ignore our fundamental being.
I wonder if the Bible is telling us right now exactly what’s happening to our planet when it says in Romans 8: “Creation was condemned to lose its purpose and will groan like the pains of childbirth. Creation will be set free from death and decay.”
Please don’t forget we can also look forward to a new heaven and a new Earth (Revelation 21).
So let’s look upwards to heaven, not downwards to Earth, and place out trust in our creator.
He really is our only hope because if we leave it to ourselves we truly are wasting our energy.
CHALLENGE FOR CAMPAIGNERS
Climate claptrap is in the news again with failed Prime Minister Theresa May getting to announce “carbon neutrality” by 2050 as her leaving present, and climate change being inevitably blamed for some not-unprecedented hot weather in Europe.
I can’t help thinking that carbon neutrality in the UK will be a waste of money if the rest of the world doesn’t follow suit.
The usual response from climate campaigners is that the other countries will follow our example.
Before we jump off that particular cliff, can I suggest an experiment?
I propose that all UK residents who believe that humans are warming the planet give up driving fossil-fuel cars, having gas in their homes, eating meat and going on holiday – and see if the rest of the UK follows suit.
BIG DEAL FOR THE EUROPEAN UNION
A recent piece of news which largely passed under the radar – such is the UK’s Brexit obsession – was the fact that the European Union and South American economic bloc Mercosur have clinched a huge trade deal after 20 years of negotiations.
It is the EU’s biggest deal to date and aims to cut or remove trade tariffs, making imported products cheaper for consumers, while also boosting exports for companies on both sides. The agreement is set to create a market for goods and services covering nearly 800 million consumers, making it the largest in the world in terms of population.
It should be noted that the European Union is already Mercosur’s biggest trade and investment partner.
A matter of days later, adding to the irony, the EU and Vietnam signed a long-awaited free trade deal that will slash duties on almost all goods.
Both these deals neatly highlight that the EU is one of the world’s great global trading powers, and follow recently-concluded trade deals with Japan, South Korea and Canada.
As an EU member state the UK automatically benefits from 40 trade agreements the EU has in place with more than 70 countries. These are trade agreements that, on leaving the EU, the UK will have to renegotiate in a world that is becoming increasingly protectionist.
So, while Brexiteers talk of a “global Britain” that will trade freely with the rest of the world, they will soon find out, to the detriment of us all, that not only will this take a considerable amount of time, but any terms agreed will not come close to being a match when compared with the benefits we currently enjoy as members of the EU.
WILL BRUSSELS GET THE BLAME?
Watching First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood, it is clear that for the SNP the excuse of choice when it comes to our collective woes is everything that happens at Westminster.
If Nicola Sturgeon ever gets her way, managing to break up the United Kingdom and then eventually taking us back into the EU, just how long will it be before we are told that it is the intransigence of Brussels and its disrespect for Scotland that is holding us back, rather than the SNP’s own shortcomings?
Second-rate politicians – overpaid and over here.
How much longer are we to hear these harbingers of bad news and repetitious nonsense?
Is this the best example of our UK parliamentarians of all political persuasion?
Why do we accept the contemptuous attitude and arrogance of the European Union? One can understand it for having to endure three years of repetitious uncertainty, but reciprocation has also been experienced by the UK.
We must realise that Remainers are responsible for demonstration against a democratic Brexit vote and the fact that Scotland voted 62% Remain. But so what? The total vote of our four nations was for Brexit.
If Scotland is happy with independence later on, who will pay bills to the Scottish exchequer?
The Scottish Government has proved,having caused the worst GDP deficit in Europe, that it is just not competent to take on independence.
The Scottish exchequer is already bankrupt. Only a motion of no confidence will silence First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Money makes the world go round and Scotland’s Remainers are batting with the wrong team – because its cupboard is empty.
JOURNEY OF A LIFETIME
Later this month Scouts from Hawick will be travelling 3,800 miles to wild and wonderful West Virginia, USA, for the 24th World Scout Jamboree.
These are some of our brightest and best, and every one of them will be an ambassador for the Scouts, the UK’s largest mixed movement, helping prepare girls and boys with skills for life.
World Scout Jamborees only happen every four years and tens of thousands of Scouts attend each one.
They are incredible festivals of peace, friendship and adventure. Young people will make friends for life with people from over 150 countries, experience different food, language and culture while learning new skills.
It will be the journey of a lifetime.
The 2019 Jamboree, jointly hosted by the USA, Canada and Mexico, is set to be one of the biggest and most exciting yet.
The theme is ‘Unlock a new world’ – focusing especially on how we can create a sustainable world together.
I want to wish every single one of the Hawick Scouts good luck and safe travels.
We’re so proud of you and I’ll see you out there.
‘BIG BREKKIE’ IN GALASHIELS
I would like to thank everyone who supported the Christian Aid ‘Big Brekkie’ that was held in Old Parish and St Paul’s Church in Galashiels on Sunday, June 16. We raised £250 for the charity.
A big to thank-you also to the businesses that supported us by donating various food items – Tesco, Aldi, S. Noble Butchers and Alex Dalgetty & Sons.
The biggest thank-you, however, goes to members of the St Paul’s congregation who generously gave up their time on the Saturday afternoon to help set up tables and then came along early on Sunday morning to help cook a varied menu.
Without their support the event would not have been a success.