My Column

Surf thing to get excited about.

  • Date: Monday 24th June 2019
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Quite often you’ll hear about Scottish business fortunes ‘riding the crest of a wave’ or our economy ‘turning the tide’ – but it’s rare that the literal interpretation applies.

That’s exactly the case with an exciting new project that has really caught my imagination, and no doubt the imagination of many others too.

Work is to now officially begin on Scotland’s first artificial surf park at the disused Craigpark Quarry on the edge of Edinburgh after it won planning permission last week.

Now, I’m no surfer – I prefer to do my surfing on the web – but it’s easy to see how watersports enthusiasts would flock to such a ground-breaking attraction.

As a country that’s often buffeted by the elements, we’re not short on waves. Nevertheless, controlled surfing environments are virtually non-existent and that’s why such a project makes so much sense.

Wavegarden Scotland is the brains behind this amazing operation which is set to create up to 130 jobs and some £11million for the local economy every year, not to mention £500,000 worth of financial contributions to community facilities and infrastructure.

Those are some very nice figures – and compelling ones too for those who may have been sitting on the fence when the project was first revealed.

No wonder City of Edinburgh Council got ‘on board’ with this world-class surfing and family-friendly destination near Ratho, while the local community overwhelmingly backed it during a recent consultation event.

Not that they should have needed convincing of plans to transform a vacant quarry into a unique and thriving attraction, as part of an attractive country park setting that will also benefit walkers, runners, and cyclists.

Supplement all of this with Wavegarden Scotland’s commitment to deliver a footbridge that will improve links with its next-door neighbour, the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, and the claim that this could become “the ultimate adventure hub for visitors” doesn’t seem an unrealistic one.

So how does the surf park work? Well, essentially the existing quarry pit will be turned into a man-made lake with state-of-the-art underwater technology recreating waves for any level of surfer.

It’s capable of creating 1,000 waves per hour, from slow-moving white water for beginners, through to powerful barrels of up to two metres in height for veterans.

Wavegarden has form in this area – it developed the technology behind Surf Snowdonia, which welcomed over 155,000 visitors in 2017. 

Such innovative thinking will make the spot near Ratho one of the most advanced surfing and water sports facilities in the world, enabling elite-level sports training. Indeed, it’s set to seriously hone Scotland’s surfing talent.

With surfing being a great spectator sport and so many great facilities being on offer for all, you can imagine tourists and locals visiting simply to take in the action.

Possibly the best news is that work on the project is set to begin in coming months, allowing it to be fully up and running within two years.

In turn, it will provide an immediate economic boost and surely a wave of excitement across the surfing community.

Roll on Spring 2021 – I’m looking forward to dipping my toes in the water of this exciting, game-changing attraction.

 

SIDE

It’s always brilliant to hear of Scottish businesses thriving and I am thrilled that Mackie’s continues to grow not only in Scotland, but across the globe – such big steps create real pride back home.

Last week saw the announcement of record ice cream sales in East Asia thanks to the popularity of bubble tea – a trendy sweet drink which uses Mackie’s traditional ice cream as a key ingredient.

The family farm has achieved a 100 per cent growth in export sales which is an amazing feat for the Aberdeenshire company. Better still, profits have been higher than ever with sales exceeding £15 million.

Just when you think it couldn’t get any better for the Scottish outfit, a partnership with Nissan has just been unveiled.

To celebrate Clean Air Day (20 June), the car company is promoting its brand new state-of-the-art electric ice cream van which is a zero emissions vehicle.

The van, which comes complete with fridge, freezer, solar panels and soft-serve machine, will sell Mackie’s of Scotland ice cream.

Many local authorities are being prompted to ban ice cream vans because of the harmful emissions from the idling engines, so this could be the perfect solution.

Not only is the electric vehicle helping save the environment, its high specification is unique for the ice cream industry.

Furthermore, instead of the traditional ice cream jingle letting children, and adults alike, know it has arrived, the Nissan vehicle has a smart button that generates a tweet of the van’s precise location.

Gone are the days of racing outside as soon as you heard the ice cream van pull into your street but it’s a small price to pay for a guilt-free dessert.

 

LAUGH

It’s no secret that Glasgow’s subway system is hardly comparable to the underground networks of bigger cities – our 15 stop system is simple but much-loved.

So it was a huge surprise to see that the Philippine government had used an image of the Clockwork Orange to promote their own, brand new Metro Manila subway.

It shows Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte quite clearly Photoshopped onto an image of Kelvinhall station.

A global news agency spotted the hilariously hoodwinked shot and since then it’s gone viral online.

Who knows how or why the image of two Glasgow trains has ended up in the hands of this Southeast Asian country, but it’s certainly given us all something to laugh about.

Next stop after Cessnock? Manila.

 

WEEP

Despite the ongoing redevelopment of Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street, MSPs are demanding more help for local businesses following the one year anniversary of the School of Art fire.

Of course the recovery from such a seismic event is a long process, and there is no simple solution, but neighbouring retailers are still evidently feeling the after-effects of the devastating blaze which shocked the whole country.

Lush and Bo Concept have both closed and instead are choosing to focus on their other stores elsewhere in Glasgow.

While the City Council insists that it’s fully supporting affected residents and businesses, it’s clear to me that more investment is needed.

Hopefully the redevelopment of this famous street will sow the seeds of longer-term regeneration.

 

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