“TAKE Back Control”, the mantra of this sovereignty-obsessed UK Government, is now needed more than ever in the domestic sphere.

Prior to August 2021 the oil and gas producers were making profits and meeting their costs and planning investments when the unit price of gas was around the 100p mark. In the next half-year gas prices peaked at 452p on Dec 21 2021 and then fell away. In March 2022 the price peaked at 529p and then fell away but has been rising again from a low of around 110p to 364p on August 10.

It is not beyond the understanding of most of us that, as the cost of production has not risen substantially (except for an ironic rise in fuel costs) and the investment plans of the producers have not been modified, the price hikes have driven the huge profits recorded by these companies.

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As the oil and gas under the North Sea is in fact a community asset for the population of these islands, it is strange that we cannot “take back control” of this asset and, given the level of profit the oil and gas producers enjoyed last year (at 100p), supply the gas to our domestic market at that price. This would mean the generating companies would not be forced to raise their prices and the risks to the health and wellbeing of millions of UK citizens could be mitigated.

Although authoritarian in character when it comes to personal freedoms, the current UK Government seems incapable of exercising its sovereignty and protecting the people of the UK from a free market that is profiteering on the back of a world shortage. The domestic market is within our control if we have the will to act.

Ofgem has protected the profits of the producers at the expense of the consumer. The generating companies are piggy in the middle and business and industry is being saddled with costs that will cripple and may destroy their ability to trade. All this to kowtow to the free market that cannot be trusted to regulate itself and will profiteer wildly until there comes the crash as the demand for oil and gas falls due to there being a reduction in industrial activity.

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The social cost of this is not unprecedented in the UK, as we in Scotland and those in the north of England know all to well. Our industrial base was hobbled, disinvested and then destroyed by the ideology of the free market in the 1980s.

The cost to the reduced tax-paying base of sustaining high unemployment from business failure or business emigration would further reduce the money available to drive both local and national economic activity.

Historically we gave away control of our North Sea assets for a pittance. Shetland, like Norway, drove a much better bargain and has a wealth fund, but our politicians have allowed the free international market in energy to drive the cost of access to our asset. It is ironic that the French government, supposedly held in a straitjacket of EU red tape, was able to take action to protect the populace from price inflation.

It is time to “Take Back Control”.

David Neilson

RATHER odd to see a wholly uncritical piece reading more like a PR promotion on a consultancy seeking to bring more corporate ownership to the Scottish country to exploit the fallacy of carbon trading as if this were a truly green solution to climate change (Scots carbon-offset business launched, Aug 9).

Apart from the reality that the course of climate change can only limited by global initiatives to constrain industrial and military large-scale CO2e emissions, the unfolding acquisition of Scottish landholdings with the primary purpose of exploring the resources to profit from so-called carbon offering in itself does little to address emissions and merely provides a fig leaf to conceal the continued contribution to climate change from corporate business throughout the world.

The character, complexion and and complexity of the Scottish countrywide is being transformed quite rapidly by these large companies with no affinity with communities and no commitment or obligation towards them. The primary objective is inevitably to extract as much profit as possible from the enterprise, and economics teaches us that businesses often expand by acquisition until they become monopolise their markets.

What is the Scottish Government doing to address this subversive challenge and how can the trading of not just landscapes, but implicitly communities, be managed for the good of everyone, not just distant speculators seeking to cash in on taxpayer-funded subsidies and the rising carbon market?

The issue requires much more inquiry and not unquestioning promotion.

Neville Rigby

THE article about the Northern Lighthouse Board in Saturday’s National was excellent, and being an ex-lightkeeper, it brought back many memories. We had a tongue-in-cheek comment about the motto. While hanging on, maybe 100ft in the air, painting a lighthouse tower, we would say: “Aye, ‘For the Safety of All’, except lightkeepers.” That was before the days of health and safety regulations.

Bill Murray