Let’s swap oil for a cleaner fu­ture

Sunday Herald - - 19.03.17 EDITORIAL & LETTERS -

THAT Scot­land’s “black gold” has lost much of its lus­tre since 2008 is self-ev­i­dent (What North Sea oil means for the Scot­tish econ­omy, State of the na­tion, March 12).

Rus­sell Borthwick, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Aberdeen & Grampian Cham­ber of Com­merce talks about the in­dus­try hav­ing “turned a cor­ner” af­ter a bout of acute cost-cut­ting.

There have been more than 100,000 jobs lost, and those re­main no longer ben­e­fit from hard-won skills and the req­ui­site ad­her­ence to safety in an in­her­ently dan­ger­ous in­dus­try.

Isn’t it time to take the fo­cus off a high-car­bon eco­nomic model that is not only dan­gling from a shoo­gly peg but is also se­ri­ously dam­ag­ing to our en­vi­ron­ment?

The north­east of Scot­land risks be­com­ing yet an­other low-skill, low-pro­duc­tiv­ity, low-wage eco­nomic re­gion of the UK if we don’t turn the tide.

Far more oomph must be put into a rad­i­cal and ur­gent pro­gramme of di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion away from oil and gas.

It may not be sim­ple but as Borthwick con­cedes, ex­ist­ing tech­nolo­gies and skills could well be trans­fer­able to sources of clean and re­new­able en­ergy.

High­light­ing a po­ten­tial kitty of £826 mil­lion of public and pri­vate-sec­tor in­vest­ment to slurp the re­main­ing 20 bil­lion plus bar­rels of oil out of the North Sea is per­verse.

Why not leave it where it is and steer the money to­wards a sus­tain­able fu­ture for Scot­land, our chil­dren and grand­chil­dren?

Our over­bur­dened lit­tle planet will breathe a sigh of re­lief.

Those who cling on to it will be re­minded that lay­ing claim to be­ing “the great­est wee coun­try in the world” is more than mere hubris. Berend Ver­sluis An­gus

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