Mike Vickers' Blog

June 25, 2010

Linlithgow in 20 years

Filed under: Linlithgow Business Association — derryvickers @ 1:53 pm

The Linlithgow Civic Trust is in the final stages of publishing their new Vision for Linlithgow – see draft for discussion http://www.lct.org.uk/planning/vision2.htm.  The Vision is a fine, well planned and thought out document.  It looks forward to how Linlithgow may continue to be the tourist ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of West Lothian yet accommodate the ever pressing demand for new housing.  Its planning horizon is 20 years.  I for one am ambivalent as to how much the world will change in the next 20 years and how much such change will impact on Linlithgow.

Drivers for changes I foresee are:

  1. The potential collapse of the world’s financial system particularly as it affects the West and the unhealthy dependence of the UK economy on it
  2. The dependence of the world and again the West in particular on cheap energy and the demise of oil and gas as an energy source.  Oil of course is the major source of plastics and what we will now do without them
  3. The rise of China, India and Brazil as capitalist wealth creators but also as energy consumers.  China in particular is using its increasing clout to dominate such continents as Africa – up to recently the preserve of Western Europe
  4. The impact of climate change which will undoubtedly be horrendous although increasingly brushed under the carpet at the G20
  5. Potable water is getting increasingly scarce.  This is due to the inexorable increase in world population and to the increase in world temperature from climate change.  This of course leads to an increasing scarcity of food
  6. The sheer impact of ICT (Information & Communications Technology) on how we communicate with one another

A few will deny these drivers but I suggest most won’t.  They will however suggest that change happens slowly and they have much to support this view over the last 50 years, atmospheric CO2 being one exception.  A key writer in my past has been the late Stephen Jay Gould,  evolutionary biologist and historian of science who had a theory called punctuated equilibrium where evolution proceeds with long periods of stasis followed periods of  rapid change.  I have a great deal of empathy with this theory: who can remember the ubiquity of the coal mining industry in the UK? And what about Clyde Bank where even Irn Bru is no longer made from girders.

So if we assume that the drivers to change are there, how might they affect Scotland and Linlithgow? 

  1. The UK economy has bankrupted itself bailing out the two banks both based in Edinburgh.  This must affect jobs and commuters in Linlithgow
  2. More expensive energy and scarcity of oil will make living away from work an increasing  burden
  3. The economic and manufacturing power house of the East and South will increasingly take away the remaining jobs in the West.  Finance may remain with us the longest
  4. Land prices in desirable countries such as Scotland may shoot up yet immigration, legal and illegal,  from underdeveloped countries may start in real earnest
  5. On the other hand we will be increasingly able to work from home rather than commuting daily to Edinburgh and Glasgow
  6. Jon Newey regularly points out that it’s not the supermarkets that undermine the High Street shops but  Internet shopping.

So back to the start, what do you think are the powerful drivers to change that will radically change we live and work in Linlithgow and when will they start to bite? 

Interestingly the same question was put to the s2 pupils at the Academy and they came up with many different views.  Most were eco friendly with energy from solar and wind power, some had a pedestrianised High Street and most considered the Palace would still be there.

Any new post graduate in Geography who is looking for a thesis which could have real impact on our lives?

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