My Column

Im loving our green shoots of recovery

  • Date: Monday 24th August 2020
column Picture

Normality is slowly creeping its way back into our lives and we’re starting to take the very first steps back to a pre-lockdown era we enjoyed back in January. 

It’s not been an easy ride and we’ve still a long way to go and a lot to learn, but I’m optimistic that we’ve at least begun facing the right direction and are heading to some form of economic recovery as a nation.

However, with several sectors such as travel, hospitality, manufacturing and retail forced into an unfortunate hard reboot, there’s never been a more important time to see innovation and education for a more eco-friendly, sustainable Scotland form a key part of this recovery.

Lockdown was a time of reflection for me on how important it is for forward thinking businesses to alter their approach to both climate change and sustainable practice. 

Maybe it was the utopian news stories regarding wildlife flourishing and Scotland’s carbon footprint taking a step back, or perhaps it was just the contemplative state I found myself in staring at the same four walls every day during lockdown, but I’m feeling confident that we could socially distance ourselves from the older, less eco-friendly ways of doing things.

We’re already on the right track with some aspects of this green revolution as well.  Simple things such as my local Tesco preventing additional food waste through their Community Food Connection scheme, providing good cause donations to the local communities they operate in, or the recent announcement that Dundee and Edinburgh’s high streets are among the most eco-friendly high streets in the UK. It already shows that the foundations are in place. 

The eco-friendly high street index, from price comparison site SaveOnEnergy, praised both high streets for their dedication to providing shoppers easy access to recycling facilities, electric car charging, independent shopping and green spaces.

By investing in our high streets, we’re not only providing a more environmentally friendly way of running businesses and fuelling the economy, we’re also providing consumers a choice to take action and put the responsibility into their own hands, which 2020 has already shown to be a vital for shoppers across Scotland.  

But the changes don’t stop at just the high street. Our key industries, such as Scottish whisky distilleries, have also started see if the grass can be greener on the other side of lockdown. 

Announced back in March, this past week saw the Green Distilleries Competition scheme go live, which provides additional funding to businesses that choose to convert to renewable energy sources such as low-carbon hydrogen, biomass and repurposed waste.

The scheme aims to cut distillery emissions by almost one million tonnes of CO2 per year, the equivalent of removing 100,000 cars from the roads.

The scheme has already received praise from the Scottish Whisky Association, whose head of industry Dagmar Droogsma believes the project provides the perfect opportunity for distilleries to find new ways of operating that could benefit companies in the long-term, whilst also helping Scotland reach its ambitious emission targets.

These implemented changes towards an industry that supplies an annual estimate of £1.5 billion to the Scottish economy would leave a remarkable positive impact on our environment.

A green recovery for Scotland’s transport sector also appears to be in the works as the Scottish government launched a new Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme.  

The government are leading the charge by providing £9 million of funding for the scheme, in a bid to further help bus operators in Scotland improve air quality through a transition to more sustainable vehicles - such as hydrogen-electric or fully electric vehicles.

Although, in a very similar way to the pandemic, we may be a long way from a complete solution, it’s promising to see these steps being taken by Scottish industries.

By using the Scotland’s return to normality as a launch pad for change, we can hopefully begin to find more economical and sustainable ways of operating across all of our key industries and sectors.

It’s these innovative mind-sets that need financial backing to get Scotland heading towards a more optimistic future. Let’s hope that as we ease out of lockdown that this is a prime opportunity to give the green light to a greener Scotland.

SIDE (298 words)

Agritourism is a sector that has continued to grow over the past several years, and despite what 2020 has thrown at the Scottish economy, this doesn’t look to change.

Scotland has seen a rise in farming businesses diversifying, such as farm shops and dining destinations.

These new businesses are popping up in rural parts of the country and attracting more visitors to smaller towns and villages, which normally don’t see much tourist traffic.

Go Rural Scotland, an organisation supported by Visit Scotland, cleverly used technology throughout the spring and summer lockdown to continue to educate families on Scotland’s farms and agricultural sector, with the demand still very much there.

By using social media, agritourism businesses have been able to communicate with the public and share insights of both farm life and business.

Now that many of these businesses have reopened, the aim is that people will continue to support these small, often family-run, agri-businesses.

Drift, a coffeehouse set on the clifftops of Quarrel Sands near North Berwick, is a prime example of a farm diversification project.

Owned and run by Jo and Stuart McNicol of Castleton farm, this eatery is unique in its set-up, use of all local Scottish produce and unrivalled coastline views.

This family-run agritourism business welcomed over 80,000 visitors last year alone, which is an incredible feat for a café. Simply, without Drift, the local area would not have welcomed these types of visitor numbers.

Other local tourist sites such as Tantallon Castle, Bass Rock and other independent retail businesses will all see an upturn in visitors and ultimately profits off the back of this.

It is important that we support this industry, especially at a time like now, and allow it to grow as Scotland will reap the benefits for a long-time to come.

LAUGH (128 words)

Scotland is the ideal staycation destination, with stunning scenery rivalling anywhere in the world.

However, if trying to get that perfect picture of your trip to show off to friends, be prepared to take on the wildlife - and I don’t mean the large four legged variety.

Just last week, one poor camper came face to face with Scotland’s very own menace - the dreaded midge.

Photographer Alex Nail, who was in the hills to capture a stunning sunset, was forced to shelter in his tent as he was besieged by millions of the little critters.

Unfortunately the wet weather conditions during his break turned were the perfect storm for the bugs to hatch and, needless to say, Alex didn’t get that shot of the sunset.

Trust the good old Scottish weather to put a dampener on a Scottish holiday.

WEEP (131 words)

The recent news of a further increase in rail fares certainly caught my attention.

Yes, less of us are using trains due to the current situation we find ourselves in, however rail users will only continue to decline if the price of tickets continues to rise.

The cost of a season card to travel between Edinburgh and Glasgow will be a whopping £4,267 when the expected price increase comes into force early next year. For the average commuter it could quite easily rule train travel out in the future.

With forecasted job losses looming on the horizon and many individuals potentially having to travel further for work, in my opinion we need to make rail more affordable - not only to help commuters, but surely to boost user figures once again.




Back to column listings

Recent News

News Archive