Letters to the editor – April 29, 2022

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Be safe around water


Water Safety Scotland, in partnership with Education Scotland, has launched its first instalment of free water safety educational resources for schools and practitioners in Scotland.

Water Safety Scotland, which is committed to reducing accidental drowning deaths in Scotland by 50 per cent by 2026, introduced the initiative to provide a consistent level of learning across Scotland to equip Scottish youth with the knowledge and skills required to reduce water-based accidents.

On average, there are 96 water-related fatalities in Scotland each year. We aim to reduce the number of deaths from accidental drowning by 50 per cent by 2026 by driving a generational change in water safety. We want to encourage safe and responsible access to Scotland’s waterways, which can be a positive and enjoyable experience for young people when coupled with appropriate risk awareness and education.

The materials aim to provide consistent and curriculum-aligned information for water safety in Scotland.

Starting from children aged three, it will instruct and inform young people up to the age of 18 and has been endorsed by a wealth of supporting partner agencies.

Scheduled for a staggered release over the next nine months, the first set of lessons was released on April 26. Focusing on the third/fourth level within the five tiers of the Scottish curriculum, it can be accessed via Education Scotland’s National Hub or through the Water Safety Scotland website.

Linked to Water Safety Scotland’s Water Safety Code, which was created to help people enjoy Scotland’s waterways as safely as possible, it follows three key pieces of advice:

•    Stop and think, spot the dangers

•    Stay together, stay close

•    In an emergency, call 999.

Laura Erskine, Water Safety Scotland education subgroup chairperson.

Wake up to food security


This perfect storm – and I don’t use the term lightly – driven by Brexit, Covid and now the dreadful war in Ukraine will have repercussions for years to come.

We will continue to play our part as food producers, but we simply cannot do that without proper support and prices for the quality we produce.

While farmers and crofters can see this food security issue coming at us, there are many who, sadly, are far too blinkered and only interested in the short term.

For far too long, we have not paid nearly enough attention as a nation to the most important energy source we rely on, which is food, and unless governments and supermarkets wake up soon, we will be looking at food security concerns that we haven’t seen since World War Two.

Agriculture is a long-term industry. We continually plan years ahead whether it’s to do with soil health, crop rotation or livestock improvement and it is essential we put long term plans in place that enable productive agriculture to feed our country.

As we look ahead, we can plainly see that unless we act now and ensure our domestic production systems continue to deliver, we will see real food supply problems in the not-too-distant future.

Energy costs are soaring across all sectors. Agriculture is no different and when you look at things like the cost of fertiliser which has had a 300 per cent increase, it’s little wonder farmers across all sectors are looking to pull back on production.

Add into the mix animal feed, fuel, energy and labour costs it’s plain to see why we are seriously concerned, not just for the survival of our primary producers but also for the whole supply chain both upstream and downstream who rely on the critical mass of production to keep their and other businesses in the rural economy afloat.

So what can we do?

Our local council elections give us all a chance to raise the serious issue of food security. We are already working with local authorities to promote local sourcing for public procurement and this must be at the core of the Good Food Nation Bill as it continues its journey through Scottish Parliament.

I would also ask you to vote with your feet when it comes to purchasing food to ensure you are supporting Scottish and British products.

That way we might have a chance of not only retaining our own food supply, but by doing so, we will also maintain the environment and landscape we have here in Scotland that’s the envy of many across the world.

Martin Kennedy, president, NFU Scotland.

Help with connection costs


The Scottish Hydro Electric Community Trust is inviting applications for funding support to connect to the electricity distribution network in the north of Scotland.

The Scottish Hydro Electric Community Trust is an independent charitable trust set up in 1998 by Scottish Hydro Electric plc (now SSE plc). The trust considers applications for support with the cost of connecting to the electricity network for individual homeowners and community groups with charitable status in the Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) licence area.

The trust can support up to 75 per cent of the cost of connections for successful community projects and up to 50 per cent of the cost for individuals to meet the costs of a new domestic connection. As a charity, the trust is required to means test applications for domestic connections.

The next application round closes on Tuesday May 17, with future applications being considered by trustees on a quarterly basis.

In the last financial year, we issued grants of almost £128,000 to support individual homeowners to help them connect to the network in SSEN’s distribution area, with almost £39,000 issued to support connection costs of community projects providing significant benefit to their communities.

The trust was initially set up to help those facing challenges connecting to the electricity network, particularly in some of our more rural mainland and island communities, so we’re delighted to continue providing this vital support to individuals and community groups more than 20 years later.

Visit www.shect.org for more information or to apply online.

David Telford, Scottish Hydro Electric Community Trust chairman.