What future for the energy-rich Scottish North? Changes in the economic landscape of the Highlands and Isles, and the rest of Scotland

Marcello Graziano, Department of Ecology, Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), Oban, PA37 1QA, Scotland, UK1
Lucy Greenhill, Department of Ecology, Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), Oban, PA37 1QA, Scotland, UK
Suzi Billing, Department of Ecology, Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), Oban, PA37 1QA, Scotland, UK

In recent years, the Scottish Government has promoted marine renewable energy technologies (MREs) as a way to achieve energy security, economic development and environmental sustainability (The Scottish Government, 2010; 2011).2 MREs play a pivotal role in the ambitious plan of the Scottish government to supply 100% of electricity demand from renewable resources by 2020 (FREDS, 2004; IPA, 2010; Allan et al., 2014, Scottish Government, 2011). The vast majority of suitable resources for wave and tidal technologies are located off the shores of the Highland and Isles region (HIR), reflected in the substantial plans for project development in these areas (Figure 1). Capturing sub-regional benefits, in addition to national economic contribution, is of major significance for policymakers and developers alike, because of the socioeconomic fragility of the HIR region (HIE, 2011; EPIC, 2012).

Despite recent efforts to establish best practices for community engagement, the Scottish and the UK governments currently implement a market-driven, top-down approach to planning the MRE sector (Johnson et al., 2012; The Scottish Government, 2014; Chronopoulos et al., 2014). Two jurisdictions, Shetland and Orkney (S&O), have attracted several investors using the energy produced to enhance their local economies. Deploying MREs across the HIR is dependent on large-scale transmission upgrades for reaching the final demand, which is mostly located in the south of Scotland (The Scottish Government, 2013). The current approach of the Scottish Government to MREs replicates the paradigm that has characterized the relationship between the HIR and the rest of Scotland for the past 250 years (Richards, 1982). We name this paradigm, ‘Megalopolis’ after the work of von Glasow et al. (2013). We identify Megalopolis as the area stretching between Glasgow and Edinburgh, known as the ‘Central Belt’. (The Scottish Government, 2004; SNS, 2014).
In the present work, we argue that the Megalopolis paradigm has generated a conundrum for the development of MREs in Scotland, and one that cannot be solved solely through the devolutionary approaches of the 1970s. To solve the conundrum, we introduce the Diffused Inclusive Community Entrepreneurship Paradigm (DICEP). Finally, we identify examples of policies and societal responses which could be institutionalized and replicated through DICEP.

Click here to read this extended abstract in full (PDF).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s