Mike Vickers' Blog

July 28, 2013

Good to get people back into the Highlands

Filed under: Business Development, economics, Politics, Scotland — derryvickers @ 7:39 pm

Alf Young in his recent article on a visit to Kilmartin Glen in the Scotsman decries the situation where the only visitors on a hot summer day were a few Europeans and a solitary Scot.  Kilmartin Glen is one of the richest glens archeologically in Scotland with cist graves dating back to 2000 BC.

http://www.scotsman.com/news/alf-young-welcome-to-the-land-politics-forgot-1-3017590

He also makes the point that the region is slowly depopulated – particularly the young.  Scotland as a whole is slowly growing but not the west, See

http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2008/07/29142448/3

Andy Wightman in contrast decries that fact that the Scottish Highlands are owned by just a few landlords whose ancestors have in the nineteenth century acquired the land as one acquires works of art – and the land now needs to be made available to the Nation in some form.

These two factors are in apparent contradiction.  No point in the Nation taking over the Highlands if there is no one wanting to live there.

It’s like the US and the British overthrowing Saddam Hussein with no idea what to do with Iraq once he’s gone.

I therefore suggest that the priority is first to give reason to the people to want to re-populate the Highlands.

Comrie is a good example of a Community Development which has got to grips with itself

http://comriedevelopmenttrust.org.uk/

But it is unique.

If we are to take Kilmartin Glen as an example of the Western Highlands then there needs to be modern amenities.  Alf Young points out that Internet is poor and there is no mobile comms – now considered fundamental to young people.

What possible opportunities are there for Kilmartin?  There has to be tourism – 4000 years of archaeology and my own experience there is no lack of facilities for the tourist to explore the archaeology.  But clearly this is not enough.  It can’t be agriculture; the glen is not suitable for modern agriculture.  What about high tech businesses? – small transport costs – lovely setting far from the crowded expensive cities – I remember a guy who used to build fish farm feeders on Skye, another who was technical director for a word processor company in the US.  But these do need the Internet and the Scottish Government has plans, but most of all the Scottish Government needs to go out and sell the opportunities not only to the Scots but to the English and even in London and High Tech Europe.  It needs to bring the venture capitalists on board.

Given the demand for land for development there will be a way to wrest it from the landowners.  As a start the law already gives Communities the first call on the right to buy when landowners seek to sell.

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