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DAVID Hay (Letters, April 18) in response to my letter (April 14) claims that we need politicians to control the excesses of scientists and engineers.

He identifies Dounreay, an experimental but atypical nuclear station, as his reason for political control. Dounreay was not part of the SSE and North of Scotland hydro which I mentioned but controlled by the UK Atomic Energy Authority. Everything done at Dounreay, including the construction of the shaft for waste storage which energises Mr Hay, had to receive political approval by the UK government at the time before it could go ahead. It is always easy to point to errors in new technology but without experimentation we don’t progress and reap the benefits. Chernobyl was a reactor design rejected as unsafe by the West and the explosion caused by switching off safety systems. As for Fukushima, 20,000 died from the tsunami and none from the damage to the nuclear station. But thousands died from the unnecessary forced removal from nearby required by government as a result of unrealistic fear of radiation.

Professor Tony Trewavas

Scientific Alliance Scotland

7-9 North St David Street