A new plan from the Scottish Executive lays out ways in which Scotland is to take a long-term approach to resource use and planning in order to ensure sustainable future for the “land of many riches”.

The report, Meeting the Needs…Priorities, Actions and Targets for sustainable development in Scotland, describes how the concept of sustainable development must be incorporated into all government policies, and how public awareness of sustainability is crucial so that everyone living in Scotland can play their part.

Priorities for sustainability in Scotland have been set in three key areas: resource use, energy and travel.

Resources that need sustainable management in Scotland include water, agriculture, fisheries and biodiversity. Heavy investment is to be made over the next seven years to provide better methods for wastewater treatment and to improve the quality of drinking water. A Forward Strategy for Scottish Agriculture will place strong emphasis on the relationship between the Scottish environment and the way food and other agricultural products are produced. Sustainability of fish stocks will be a particularly difficult problem to tackle, but the Executive’s fundamental aim is to protect fish stocks and where possible enhance stocks in order to secure the long-term future of the industry.

Development and use of renewable sources of energy is one aspect of sustainability in which Scotland is poised to take a lead within the UK. Currently hydroelectric power stations, mainly in the North of Scotland, meet up to 10% of the Scottish demand for electricity. Scotland currently has around 23% of the total European wind energy resources, both on-shore and off-shore, as well as other potential sources. It is intended that the proportion of electricity generated in Scotland from renewable energy sources will be increased to at least 18% by the year 2010.

A spokesman from The Scottish Executive told edie that there is still a lot to be done in order to achieve a sustainable way of life in Scotland, but now there are targets in place that will allow Scotland to begin to meet this goal within the next five to ten years.

Surveys have been carried out revealing that most people living in Scotland strongly support the idea of sustainable living and appreciate the importance of the Scottish natural environment, but are unsure of ways in which they can help. The spokesman from the Scottish Executive told edie that, “there is a strong appetite to find practical ways of helping to achieve a sustainable way of living” and that government and local authorities now have the task of providing those “practical solutions” to the people of Scotland.

The spokesman described two main ways in which people living in Scotland can help achieve sustainability. Firstly there is a huge problem of waste management in Scotland. Around 90% of wastes are dumped in landfill sites. “What is needed is a greater commitment to recycling from everyone living in Scotland and for innovative plans for the development of new recycling schemes,” he said. Secondly there is the issue of efficient use of energy and energy conservation. People should be encouraged to take steps to minimize energy wastage for example with maximum use of insulation that will allow energy consumption to be reduced without affecting standards of living, most importantly during the harsh Scottish winters.

A particular problem that must be addressed in Scotland is the many remote rural areas both on the Scottish mainland and on its many islands. This sets a distinctive set of challenges with such issues as public transport, access and supply of services.

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