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New vision for 'north-looking' Scotland revealed

A roadmap for Scotland’s future drawn up by architectural graduates from Strathclyde University has been adopted by a radical Scottish think tank

An Atlas of Productivity, which has been published by the South Lanarkshire-based Reid Foundation, sets out a new Nordic-centric vision for Scotland.

The Atlas is the work of the four-strong Glasgow-based ‘research and design collective’, Lateral North, and asks Scots to ‘look afresh at the potential of their nation’.

The spiral-bound A3-size Atlas has 35 maps and numerous graphics and visuals to illustrate Scotland’s transport links, land ownership, renewables capacity and infrastructure connections.

Lateral North founder and Atlas co-author Graham Hogg said the visionary document, which focuses on Scotland’s ‘islands and Highlands’ began life as ‘an academic exercise for our masters course.’

‘We didn’t expect it to be such a success,’ said Hogg ‘We thought maybe we would publish 50 but already we have packed up and sent off 250.’

‘One of the key aspects [of the Atlas] is that people say Scotland is on the periphery of Northern Europe. But Scotland is actually the gateway to Northern Europe from the Arctic.

‘We looked at shipping patterns and in 2010 four ships received permits for the northern sea route [along the northern coast of Russia down the east coast of Scotland]; by 2013 there were 204. A ship coming from Japan via the northern sea route is 60 per cent quicker than via the Suez canal,’ Hogg added.

Malcolm Fraser of Edinburgh-based Malcolm Fraser Architects, who also sits on the board of the Reid Foundation, said the Atlas had been published to tie in with the forthcoming Scottish Independence referendum.

He said: ‘There is too much fear as to what will happen if we win [the independence vote]. Work like this shows the possibilities.

‘This is a really nice, slightly off-the-wall lateral look at how Scotland might reposition itself.’

But Hogg denied it was a ‘yes’ document: ‘We don’t have a problem with people associating it with that but it is solely there to provide facts.

‘We [the four authors] came at it from different political backgrounds and they have remained the same; some ‘yes’ and some ‘no’,’ said Hogg.

Atlas facts:

  • 83.1 per cent of land in Scotland is owned by private landowners - and of the private land 50% is owned by 432 people
  • Scotland has 25 per cent of Europe’s offshore wind resources
  • Scotland has 25 per cent of Europe’s tidal potential and 10% of its wave potential
  • Scotland’s peak energy requirement is 10.5GW. The full wind energy capacity of Scotland is 159GW.
  • In 2013 Orkney generated 103 per cent of its renewable capacity, but a lack of connection with the mainland meant a £3million loss in energy
  • There are 7,000 possible 5MW hydro schemes available in Scotland
  • Scotland lacks ferry connections with the Nordic countries despite European ferries already passing between Orkney and Shetland


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