Readers’ Letters: Heat pumps aren’t affordable to most people

Would Scottish Green Party co-Leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater be so keen on heat pumps if they weren’t on ministerial salaries? (Picture: Fraser BremnerAFP/Getty)

In their mad rush for Net Zero they are banning gas for heating and cooking and saying we should install heat pumps. Ground source pumps are priced at £11,000-£20,000 depending on the loop, while air source pumps are £5,000-£12,000. Bigger radiators might be needed and the running costs are higher. I recently had a replacement gas boiler fitted for £3,000. Politicians, the green zealots and others aboard the climate gravy train should lead by example and have heat pumps fitted, at their own expense, and see how they fare.

More bad news for the green zealots. The EU has unveiled plans to label investments in gas and nuclear projects as “sustainable”. Those opposing this are highly unlikely to stop this by getting 20 member states voting to reject this plan. So there is now no need to ban gas for cooking and heating and we can now build gas-fired and nuclear power stations and keep the lights on.

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Clark Cross, Linlithgow, West Lothian

The 82 per cent increase in Electricity Standing Charge is obscene and will take the annual charge to £165.50 per annum before 1Kwh of power is used. This increase is unrelated to the huge hike in the wholesale price of gas and will disproportionately hit low electricity users the most.

Consumers like pensioners and low-income households, who are unlikely to use dishwashers, tumble dryers and electronics and therefore unlikely to be able to cut their usage to compensate will suffer the most.

Boris Johnson stated before Brexit that Britain would be able to ditch VAT on gas and electricity bills as the EU regulations did not allow it.

What better time to scrap VAT on energy than now, when we are in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis with energy, food, interest rates and NI contributions all increasing to unparalleled levels. Instead, the Tories ‘kindly’ decided to lend us £200 towards the average £700 bill increase on the basis that we pay it back over the following five years. However, there are no guarantees that these eyewatering prices will reduce and that hard pressed families will be able to afford the extra repayments.

Scotland is rich in oil, gas and wind power but we are hit with one of the highest energy tariffs in the UK. If only “Scotland will not be dragged out of the EU against our will” meant what it said on the tin and we had achieved Independence.

The PM’s defense this week against demands to resign consisted of an unconvincing apology and a boastful defense of his record in “delivering” for the country. We’re asked to move on from parties and focus on his other achievements of him. The UK does not have a “world-beating” vaccine programme. By doses administered per 100 people we are joint 23rd with France, behind Belgium, Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Denmark and Malta. We do not “now have… the fastest-growing economy in the G7”. Briefly we did; but on the latest quarterly figures we are fifth. Also false is his claim that we now have “420,000 more people in employment” since the pandemic began. He has excluded the self-employed; count them in and it is 600,000 fewer. Johnson claims to have cut crime “by 14 per cent” uses the same chicanery – fraud is excluded. On “levelling-up”, the only real evidence to date is that friends and party donors were elevated to multi-millionaire status by winning grossly inflated Covid contracts. Similarly elevated were the crime gangs who claimed billions of public money through furlough and business loans. Lord Agnew, on resigning, called the government response to the latter fraud “desperately inadequate”. The emphatic boast of “40 new hospitals” is widely discredited. They just don’t exist. Finally, it is laughably false for Johnson to claim he is “leading” the international response on Ukraine. So yes, move on. Ask if there is some greater number of lies he is yet to reach before Conservative MPs act. Or have they simply become the party of deception, lies, incompetence, fraud and corruption?

Robert Farquharson, Edinburgh

So, Boris Johnson misses a key phone call with Putin this week (too busy defending himself against accusations of criminal behaviour, apparently), spends 24 hours on the well-worn “let’s visit Ukraine and look important” carousel and then returns to find meltdown on Downing Street with the mass resignation of his key staff. At the same time NI’s politicians refuse to continue implementation of the GB-NI border checks agreed in the internationally binding UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement.

Just another week for post-Brexit “global Britain” then – which in reality is toxic, dysfunctional and isolated. Putin knows that the only capitals he needs to pay attention to are Beijing, Brussels and Washington and that the self-obsessed UK is an irrelevance in international matters and led by idiots.

Unfortunately, a Westminster election is still more than two years away and we face the real prospect of endlessly damaging Conservative governments beyond that. It’s time to face the sad reality that England’s default position is Tory; since 1980 there have been five Conservative governments compared with Labour’s two. The assumption that somehow Tory and Labor each get an equal rotational “Buggins’ turn” to govern at Westminster, and that Labor will somehow “save” Scotland, is fantasy.

Astonishingly, here in Scotland, the usual band of north-Briton unionist politicians and media commentators (Labour, LibDem and Tory) popped up again this week, desperately trying to persuade Scots that all of the above is a better proposition than normality, ie an independent Scotland, which would have the government democratically elected by its citizens and control over our own abundant resources and finances (similar to, say, Denmark or Ireland, our successful near neighbors of the same size).

Scotland is a net exporter of energy and water, and home to a diverse creative and resourceful people and economy whose people increasingly see the UK for the charlatan it actually is, and who value their historic European connections and trading links. Sorry lads, but we simply won’t be fobbed off by this unionist north-British nonsense anymore.

D Jamieson, Dunbar, East Lothian

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Leah Gunn Barrett (Letters, 3 February) rehearses the new SNP orthodoxy on pensions. In 2013, the SNP’s referendum White Paper stated unambiguously that “for those people living in Scotland in receipt of the UK State Pension at the time of independence, the responsibility for the payment of that pension will transfer to the Scottish government” (page 144) . The then UK Pensions Minister, Steve Webb, stated that “the Scottish people would expect their government to take on full responsibility for paying pensions to people in Scotland, including where liabilities had arisen before independence”.

In recent days, first Ian Blackford and then Nicola Sturgeon have spoken publicly about how the “commitment to continue to pay pensions rests with the UK Government” (Sturgeon at First Minister’s Questions, Blackford on Scotland’s Choice podcast). This is a claim too far. Unless they can produce evidence of the UK Government having entered a new undertaking on this matter, we can disregard what Blackford and Sturgeon have said, which is a regurgitation of untruths peddled on the “Believe in Scotland” website.

In March 2017 a request was made through Freedom of Information for the truth about pensions in a separate Scotland. The FOI response was “the statement ‘if Scotland does become independent this will have no effect on your State Pension, you will continue to receive it just as you do at present’ was misleading and factually incorrect… The correct statement was ‘In the event of independence, State Pensions and benefits in Scotland for its citizens would be the responsibility of a Scottish Government’.”

Ms Garrett’s statements are incorrect – as are those of Mr Blackford and Ms Sturgeon. Why these people should have spread misleading information at this time is anyone’s guess.

Jill Stephenson, Edinburgh

Leah Gunn Barrett is quite wrong when she states that the UK will continue to pay the state pension to Scottish pensioners in an independent Scotland. The fact that pensioners in some overseas countries receive UK pensions, albeit many of these pensions are frozen at the level they were at when the person left the UK, is irrelevant. These people were, and are still, UK citizens. UK pensions are paid out of taxation year on year. There is no pension fund into which we have all been paying. Surely Ms Gunn Barrett can’t seriously believe UK taxpayers would be willing to fund the pensions of Scots in an independent Scotland which would be a foreign country. The idea is ludicrous.

Donald Lewis, Gifford, East Lothian

What an extraordinary contribution for Leah Gunn Barrett over the row about Ian Blackford’s comments relating to pensions being paid by Westminster should the people of Scotland accept the folly of independence. Ms Barrett comments that all will be well in the land of milk and honey as “the cost of providing a pension in Scotland is 8 per cent cheaper than in the UK because of our lower life expectancy”! So please do not worry, as you will still get your pension because you will depart this mortal coil sooner than those living in England!

What a great achievement from this inept Scottish government in maintaining our lower life expectancy.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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