Mature Scots pine burnt during grouse moor management, Dorback, Cairngorms National Park. Note also eroding soil and burnt ground vegetation.

Dear Sir,

You report (24 September) the pledge from the UN New York summit on climate change to stop natural forest destruction and restore hundreds of millions of acres of degraded land by 2030, in order to help sequestrate carbon in woodlands.

What will Scotland's response be to this welcome news?

In much of the world, such destruction and degradation of forests is caused by the desperately poor, seeking fuelwood or land to grow food.

In Scotland, it is caused by what might be called the desperately rich: burning land for grouse shooting, overgrazing it with red deer for deer stalking or, as in the Cairngorms National Park, building housing estates, often for holiday or second homes, in native woodlands. Scotland's uplands with respect to carbon sequestration (not to mention biodiversity, landscape or social justice) are a wasteland compared with what they could be.

Let us hope that this summit finally opens the eyes of the Scottish Government to the deplorable state of much of Scotland's land, in thrall as it is to sport shooting or speculative development interests.

How many of those hundreds of millions of acres of degraded land will be restored in Scotland? When will we stop destroying native woodlands for housing? What will be the Scottish Government's response to the New York Declaration on Forests?

Roy Turnbull
Nethy Bridge

The Scotsman 25 September 2014.

"I have read through the Scottish Environment LINK’s Manifesto for the Westminster General Election.  It is an excellent piece of work and I can say we wholeheartedly support the ideas and aims.
I come from Organic farming stock so my heart lies in permaculture and food production.  The food system has a profound effect on nature, human health and equality.  We need to ensure that we create and protect sustainable practices that make good food affordable and accessible to all.
The Scottish Green Party policies are the best way to integrate the social, ecological and economic issues, facing our country, instead of playing them off against each other. 
Climate change is a huge problem but I believe it is a symptom of the real issue.  Capitalism is the biggest problem we face.  There is widespread consensus that economic activity is putting life on earth at risk.  We need to reject right wing individualism ideology and work together to create a compassionate society and a healthy environment. 
Preserving the rich biodiversity of life on this planet is a core aim of the greens.  To combat the deepening ecological crisis and decline in species, our policies aim to conserve, protect and restore land marine and freshwater habitats. 
We are committed to halting biodiversity loss and aim to introduce measures to ensure that protected areas promote biodiversity growth and planning decisions fully consider impacts upon the natural environment and introduce mitigation measures where appropriate. 
I am very much looking forward to hearing lots of ideas from the Badenoch and Strathspey conservation group on these and many other issues."

Mike Robb is the Scottish Labour Party Candidate for this Constituency.

He has a degree in Physics from Edinburgh University and has worked in the software and electronics industry for most of his professional career. Mike runs his own UK-wide IT Consultancy Business from Inverness. Mike lives in Muir of Ord, with his wife Gwen who is a nurse. They have two grown up sons. His priorities are jobs for young people, getting more houses built, protecting the NHS and building an economy that's works for us all, not just bankers.

Our environment is a precious thing. For all of us wherever we live but especially here in the Highlands. Protecting that environment against factors local, national and global is vital.

We all have a role to play in that, whether as environmental activists, single issue campaigners, community groups or politicians, elected or aspiring!

I believe that climate change is happening and that we need to intervene at many levels to avoid its worst effects. In responding, we need to be led by science and not by vested interests or dogma.

On energy, we need policies that are science based and that provide safe, secure and reliable sources. Energy needs to be affordable and reliable as well as renewable.

We need to do much more to tackle the use of energy in terms of how we use it as much as how we produce it. Home insulation projects, innovative area heating schemes and getting people out of cars and onto energy efficient public transport are key.

Wind farms have a place in the mix. But I am steadily coming to the conclusion that the scale and pace of industrial wind farm developments is much more about the benefits to landowners and international energy companies than it is to the environment or to local communities and consumers. Like so many things in our society, the benefits are for the few whilst the costs are picked up by many ordinary families.

Fuel poverty is a real issue in the Highlands. We need sources of energy which don’t damage the planet but which allow the most vulnerable in our communities to heat their homes without fear.

On transport, we need a better balance to cut fuel-based emissions. The use of a car will never be any more than an essential in most parts of the Highlands, but there is so much we can do to ensure there are environmentally positive alternatives in as many places as possible. Train and bus timetables that join up; frequent, affordable rural bus services that recognise the value of providing an alternative to cars. The private sector may not be ready to provide this and we should be ready to look at public ownership again. We need to dual the A9, but we also need to invest in the rail link to Inverness to make it an attractive alternative to driving cars and lorries up and down the A9. And as a cyclist, I’d like us to invest in making it “safe and easy” to cycle to work in as many places as possible.

Sustainable farming, fracking, green procurement, getting the balance right in the Cairngorms between environment and tourism are all topical issues which I look forward to debating

Mike Robb
March 2015

We have asked our candidates for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey for statements on the environment prior to our Environmental Hustings on Friday 3rd April 7pm in Aviemore. This is the first reply, which is from Edward Mountain, Scottish Conservative:

"As a farmer and rural surveyor I have a very keen interest in how we use our environment. Prior to the meeting I would like to highlight just two local issuses:

The Spey is a hugely important asset that all those within the Strath rely on. It not only provides our household needs but it also provides water for the distilleries and agriculture and it is also a recreational resource. We should also not ignore the fact it is home to many iconic species including salmon, pearl water mussels, otters, kingfishers to name but a few. However the management of this river is conducted in a piecemeal way, by at least three different agencies, that has resulted in the habitats and water quality and quantity being diminished.

Our green energy policy in Scotland is deeply flawed. Sadly political posturing has resulted in a policy that often benefits the few but burdens the majority. Basing a policy that relies on wind factories is also deeply hypocritical and damages our landscape. We must review the policy to ensure safety of supply and a balance of provision.

I believe there are many other issues and look forward to discussing these on 3rd April. I look forward to seeing you all there.

Best wishes

Edward Mountain"

Letter in Strathy 22 May 2014.

Dear Sir,

Interesting differences have emerged between the Cairngorms National Park Authority and Highland Council over the application to build 58 houses in School Wood, Nethy Bridge.

The CNPA, in its Landscape Report, dismisses the development site as “pine plantation woodland”, whereas the HC Forestry Report correctly states, “ the site is contained within woodland which is listed in the Ancient Woodland Inventory as Long Established semi-natural origin” and continues, “This is sadly not a development which would co-exist with woodland, this is a development at the expense of woodland”.

With the lack of any self-build plots and the cramped nature of the housing proposed it is hardly surprising that Nethy Bridge Community Council reports, "There is now a greater antipathy in the village towards the development as it currently stands."

Representations can be made until 29th May to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. See: http://www.eplanningcnpa.co.uk/online-applications/ with 2013/0119/DET in the search box.

Roy Turnbull, Torniscar, Nethy Bridge.


Sir – Your correspondent Ian Miller, (Letters, 27 February), repeats some of the many misleading or false statements put about by those determined to deny the overwhelming scientific evidence for human-induced global warming.

He starts by asserting that “the Antarctic is cooling”. That is not correct. The Antarctic Peninsular is warming rapidly (nearly 3C so far); Western Antarctica is warming at about 0.1C/decade (Steig et al, Nature, 2009) and the vast East Antarctic has experienced slight cooling in places and warming elsewhere. The overall trend is one of slight warming.

Mr Miller continues by misnaming the Intergovernmental (not International) Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and wrongly attributes to it responsibility both for global temperature records and “computer models”, when the IPCC has no research function and merely collates and reports the findings of others.

Mr Miller also belittles the (correct) average global temperature increase thus far (0.8C).

But projections from the IPCC warn that such temperatures could rise almost a further 5C by the end of this century if we continue with the unrestricted burning of fossil fuels.

For comparison, average global temperatures during the depth of the last glaciation, when Strathspey was buried in several thousand feet of ice, were just 5C cooler than at present. A rise of 5C would be catastrophic.

Mr Miller is also misinformed in claiming that “World temperatures have not risen in line with ... computer models and have remained broadly flat”.

Firstly, there is no statistically significant evidence that the long-term trend of rising global temperatures experienced since the mid-1970s has changed. Secondly, unpredictable factors like solar variations, volcanic eruptions and El Nino/ La Nina episodes are well able to explain short term variations in surface temperatures. Thirdly, over 90 per cent of the extra heat caused by the increase in greenhouse gases is absorbed in the oceans, which exhibit continued warming.

Mr Miller is also confused about the terms “global warming” and “climate change”. The former refers to the increase in heat in the atmosphere/ land surface/oceans, whereas the latter refers to the corresponding change in climate.

If Mr Miller thinks the term climate change is new, he might ponder the meaning of CC in the IPCC, founded in 1988.

Mr Miller is also incorrect to claim that human actions cannot affect the jet stream, alterations in which are thought to be responsible for the UK’s recent extreme weather events.

The jet stream results from the temperature gradient between the Arctic and the tropics. Human caused warming of the Arctic has reduced this gradient and the unusual behaviour of the jet stream is thought to be the result.

Human-induced global warming is real, is continuing and is potentially very dangerous. No amount of confused denial can alter those facts.

Roy Turnbull, Torniscar, Nethy Bridge.