The poisoning of beech trees on the island of Inchtavannach on Loch Lomond does seem to have been very ill-considered and is indeed, to quote Sir Malcolm Colquhoun, ‘an act of wanton vandalism and a blight on the landscape’.

This is of course the same Sir Malcolm whose company Luss Estates has been conspiring with others to erect several large wind turbines above Helensburgh in a location visible both from the National Park and from much of the Clyde estuary.

Luss Estates CEO Simon Miller, when interviewed on Radio Scotland on Wednesday, July 15, also described the tree poisoning as ‘environmental vandalism’.

I detect an element of hypocrisy in all this.

The visual impact of Inchtavannach’s dead beech trees, although unfortunate, is limited.

It does however pale into insignificance compared to that of an industrial installation with rotating blades built on the skyline. I would have hoped that Sir Malcolm would also see this as a ‘blight on the landscape’, but of a much higher order. Glasgow Airport have restated their objection to the windfarm proposal. It is to be hoped that this, along with the weight of other objections and infringed guidelines, will either persuade the applicants to withdraw or at least encourage the planning authority to come to a final decision which will hopefully remove the prospect of these turbines being built above the town and Loch Lomond.

N. Macpherson via email Perhaps our council would like to ruminate on a parking matter recently reported in The Telegraph (July 17 and 18) Because the parking metres in four of the car parks in Cardigan Council area had been vandalised, drivers were able to park there without paying.

The result was a 50 per cent rise in footfall to the local traders.

The chairman of Cardigan Traders reckoned that, while people park at supermarkets because of the convenience, they actually prefer the quality of goods in the small shops.

He said that lowering the parking fees or, even better still, having none at all, brings people onto the towns and that shoppers stay longer and spend more.

I am not suggesting we vandalise our parking metres! However, even Marcus James, recently made High Streets Minister, agreed that making parking easy and cheap was extremely beneficial to the traders of small towns. Could this be a hint for us?

Catriona Malan via email The record results from Scottish Development International, which show an increase in both projects and jobs created or safeguarded in Scotland through inward investment, highlights the considerable benefits of our continued membership of the European Union.

This also reinforces the findings of the Ernst & Young Attractiveness Survey published earlier this year, which named Scotland as the most attractive place in the UK to invest outside London.

Over 2,000 companies already call Scotland home and many of these companies are coming here, in part, to access the considerable advantages being part of the EU Single Market, the largest in the world and amounting to over 500 million people, brings.

With nearly half of Scotland’s international exports to the EU and with over 300,000 jobs dependent on such exports it would be folly for us to remove ourselves from the EU and the many clear advantages membership brings.

Derek Hammersley The European Movement in Scotland It’s a source of real concern for the cultural life of our nation that most Scottish writers earn less than the minimum wage for their writing – a key finding of a new report from Creative Scotland.

A survey commissioned by the Saltire Society last year found Scottish writing has a broad appeal. Almost 70 per cent of Scottish adults said they purchase new books by Scottish writers and almost a third buy at least one new book by a Scottish writer every six months.

But this new report highlights the real challenges today’s Scottish writers face in making a living from their work. The Saltire Society recently launched a new Trust with the aim of raising £5million by St. Andrew’s Day 2016 to help foster Scotland’s cultural talent. One early ambition of the Trust will be to create the Saltire Fellowships scheme. The scheme would provide financial support to enable exceptional individuals in Scottish arts and culture to devote their full energies to their work.

Once established, I sincerely hope that some of Scotland’s outstanding writing talent can benefit from the scheme. That way, we can help ensure that Scottish writing continues to make a valuable contribution to our cultural life for many years to come.

Sarah Mason The Saltire Society programme manager In response to the letter from Graeme McCormick, Dumbarton SNP Convener, let me set the record straight on the SNP Health Secretary’s decision to reject plans for a north of the river-based A&E department.

For years I have stood shoulder to shoulder with SNP members like Graeme McCormick to fight for improved local health services. I am prepared to work with anyone and everyone to fight for what is best for our communities. I was delighted to find an ally in Holyrood when Gil Paterson, the SNP MSP for Clydebank, announced his support for A&E north of the river two years ago and I have always put the interests of my constituents before my party. Is Graeme McCormick now prepared to put his party affiliation aside and admit that the Health Secretary is wrong to rule out A&E at the Vale or the Golden Jubilee?

I welcome the Health Secretary’s commitment to maintaining services at the Vale but her words will provide little comfort to the patients lying in beds on the other side of the Erskine Bridge. It’s a huge disappointment that she does not see the potential for a new A&E department to solve the access difficulties for people in West Dunbartonshire, and Helensburgh and Lomond. It would also help address the appalling waiting time statistics across the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region.

For the record, I have already written to every constituent in 2013 about hospital services and received a resounding endorsement for a north of the river A&E with over 10,000 signatures on the petition. Of course I would have loved to write to every constituent again in 2014, as Graeme suggested at our campaign meeting last year, but there were very strict rules in place on using parliamentary resources for campaigning in the run up to the independence referendum and the General Election. As Mr McCormick knows, I was intending to launch a survey as soon as NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s consultation was published to ensure that our community’s voice is heard to maximum effect. But given the Scottish Government’s decision to throw out the health board’s proposals it is deeply frustrating that this consultation will no longer include plans to open a A&E in West Dunbartonshire.

I hope however that he will join me in continuing to fight for an A&E to be based north of the river, because it is in the interests of local people, and because it makes sense. Jackie Baillie Dumbarton MSP AS regards the latest in a long line of proposals for Queens Quay.

As public services have been cut and privatised in education, health, housing and welfare there has been a positively massive outcry from you and yours against that. Why? Because there was a post-war consensus that social insurance had to be provided to defend communities against repeated market failures — which, if you remember, often caused wars.

That represented some acceptance of a more open, democratic and socialist politics and it showed during the ‘50’s and ‘60’s.

Then, due to the Vietnam War, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the falling dollar and rising oil prices, that progress was deliberately stopped in the ‘70’s. Then, as now, working class people were blamed for “our market failures” and neo-liberal fascist economics took hold under Thatcher. Industry and manufacture didn’t disappear by magic. The capital investment was transferred and production was off-shored to low wage economies to maximise profits for the ruling class. Now our homes are full of stuff we didn’t make, there’s increasing inequality, food banks and another five years of Tory cuts.

“The markets” means property is king. That’s good news for the haves and bad news for the have nots. The Queens Quays development is one of thousands to profit private business and debt fuelled property speculators. Only those with a legal stake in it stand to gain. Labour’s Councillor Patrick McGlinchey must be up for an Oscar in PR, sales and marketing.

James Graham via email SO there you have it folks, the RAF has been carrying out bombing missions inside Syria against the explicit democratic decision taken in the House of Commons against such action.

Still think we live in a democracy?

We don’t and never have done. The real powers behind the scenes are happy enough to continue with the illusion of democracy as long as it does not interfere with their interests. When parliament does take a decision not to their liking we see what happens, they completely ignore it, using their mass media to brainwash the population that such action is completely justified to protect Britain’s interests.

They are right about protecting Britain’s interests alright, only the interests that they are protecting are not mine or yours but their own selfish ones, aimed at maintaining their privileged positions of power and wealth and keeping us cannon fodder in our place.

Nothing has changed folks, the only way for us in Scotland to begin to dismantle this system that drags us into illegal wars around the globe, killing millions of innocents, that imposes alien policies on us which reward the people who caused the economic problems in the first place and punishes those who are already bearing the brunt of their austerity.

To help improve the lives of the ordinary people of this country who are truly struggling at the moment, the solution is (and always will be) for the Scottish people to take control of their own destiny and Scotland to become an independent socially just country.

Charlie Sherry via email