Sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment poli­cies and green poli­cies are throw­ing up tremen­dous op­por­tu­ni­ties for Scot­tish busi­ness, writes Mairi Mal­lon

The Herald Business - - Special Report -

BUSI­NESSES in Scot­land are wak­ing up to the fact that green prac­tices are not only good for the en­vi­ron­ment but good for the bot­tom line. The pub­lic is be­com­ing more and more con­scious of what it hap­pen­ing to their planet – and want the com­pa­nies that serve them to be seen to be do­ing more.

“At­ti­tudes have changed in Scot­land over the years,” says Don­ald MacBrayne, waste ser­vices man­ager at Scot­tish Wa­ter, which has re­cently opened a huge com­post­ing site at Cum­ber­nauld.

“Com­pa­nies have cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity tar­gets and want to be seen as com­pa­nies that re­cy­cle. Land­fill tax is go­ing up ev­ery year as well, so there is a fi­nan­cial as­pect to more com­pa­nies tak­ing re­cy­cling se­ri­ously.”

MacBrayne says that, tra­di­tion­ally, Scot­land had used land­fill to fill in the holes left by its min­ing past and had been seen as bad at re­cy­cling. Only 8% of its waste was re­cy­cled but that fig­ure is now up to 25%.

Scot­land has an abun­dance of wind and en­ergy com­pa­nies have been look­ing to har­ness this nat­u­ral re­source for years. Fi­nally it ap­pears to be f inan­cially vi­able for busi­nesses to take on this re­new­able en­ergy.

At Proven En­ergy, a wind tur­bine and so­lar en­ergy com­pany, ad­viser Peter Kindt has been work­ing to f ind a way to get Scot­tish busi­nesses to buy their own wind tur­bines which can gen­er­ate enough en­ergy to power their com­pany. Called “wind croft­ing”, for be­tween £3,000 and £16,000, a com­pany can buy a wind tur­bine which is placed on a farmer’s land and en­ergy gen­er­ated is used to power the busi­ness.

“The life­span of the tur­bines is about 30 years and we ex­pect pay­back in 12, so that means that af­ter that, it is all profit,” says Kindt.

The com­pany hopes to at­tract small, medium and large busi­nesses to the scheme, and Proven has even been talk­ing to BT about sup­ply­ing its en­ergy needs.

“Scot­land has a real op­por­tu­nity to har­ness wind en­ergy through ex­ist­ing and de­vel­op­ing tech­nolo­gies”, says Alan Baker, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Air­tric­ity Scot­land, an­other wind tur­bine com­pany. “We have a plen­ti­ful sup­ply of wind and it is free.

Air­tric­ity is de­vel­op­ing and op­er­at­ing wind farms in Ire­land, Scot­land, Eng­land, Wales and in Canada and the United States.

It is in­volved in build­ing a Euro­pean “Su­per­grid” to carry en­ergy gen­er­ated by wind tur­bines to sup­pli­ers and de­liver elec­tric­ity around Europe. The first phase is a 10GW wind en­ergy foun­da­tion project in the North Sea be­tween UK, Ger­many and the Nether­lands.

Hugh Raven, di­rec­tor of the Soil As­so­ci­a­tion Scot­land agrees that busi­ness in Scot­land is tak­ing on board more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly mea­sures – and look­ing for new ways to be greener. “It is good from a health point of view, it is good from a so­cial point of view and it is good from the fi­nan­cial side. This kind of mul­ti­ple ben­e­fit is what we call sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment.”

As the cer­ti­fiers of or­ganic food, the Soil As­so­ci­a­tion is in touch with farms up which are see­ing the benef its of chang­ing their pro­duc­tion ways for fi­nan­cial rea­sons.

“There is a short­age of or­ganic pro­duce and part of what we do act in an ad­vi­sory role to help de­velop the or­ganic food sup­ply chain,” says Raven.

He said that in Scot­land most of the farm­ing was in live­stock where meth­ods of sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment were more ad­vanced, but lagged be­hind in the use of arable land and in f ru it and veg­etable pro­duc­tion and had black spots for pack­ag­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion.

“We have been go­ing through a pe­riod of very rapid growth (in or­ganic food sup­ply), but we are be­hind in Scot­land. We still have a way to go, but we are get­ting there.”

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