From time to time good news comes from Scotland and – after March’s items prompted a document search – 1097 items in which Scotland was mentioned were found. The following news items were selected and arranged simply because the country was named in the title of the file. Due to the lapse of time some links no longer work – these are marked with a cross
2004 – a fairer, less stressful house purchasing system
When you buy a house in Scotland, if your offer is accepted, you are immediately under an obligation to buy that property. This is why an agreement in principle is required before you go house-hunting. By contrast, in England and Wales, you can pull out of buying the property without penalty up until the time when contracts are exchanged. The Scottish vendor is also committed to the deal as soon as he accepts the buyer’s offer. Hence the risk of gazumping (where the vendor later accepts a higher offer from someone else) is removed. http://www.icplanning.co.uk/buying_scotland.shtml x
2004 – unfluoridated water
The Scottish Executive axed the proposal to add fluoride to the country’s water in favour of better targeted dental services.
2005 – taking freight off the roads
Councillor Julia Southcott, Convener of East Dunbartonshire’s Development & Environment Committee said “Reusing the canal for transporting freight is one of the key sustainability options being investigated.” http://www.waterscape.com/news/nid45 x Since then, though constrained by lack of funding, the Scottish government has endeavoured to preserve its shipbuilding capacity and maintain and use its waterways.
The Timberlink project, collaboration between ports, British Waterways and forestry companies, provides a good example of shifting traffic to waterways.
2007 – fair trade in food
Points made in a report written by The Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council, focussing on the need for fair trade in food, unusually considering Scottish farmers as well as those in the two-thirds world, included these points:
The major buyers of domestic production are the supermarkets and their suppliers who control most of the food bought for home consumption. Directly or through the food supply chain farmers must sell to large multinational businesses.
The current distribution of resources within the food supply chain is out of balance with effort and risk. The food supply chain represents a market failure. There is need to increase the bargaining power of primary producers if they are to survive.
The power of the multiples and the detached attitude of government seem likely to result in an increasing proportion of UK consumption being sourced from outwith the UK. To pay more for food than the market rate might seem contrary to supermarkets responsibility to their shareholders. However this market rate is determined by these major buyers. Change in practice would require a revision of the current concept of corporate responsibility.
2008 – re-opening a railway
The Stirling–Alloa–Kincardine rail link , which was re-opened for the first time in almost 40 years, is delivering economic, social and environmental benefits to the communities directly concerned and to the wider Scottish economy. The government website adds that there are direct hourly passenger services between Alloa, Stirling and Glasgow Queen Street and peak-time services to and from Edinburgh, Monday to Friday.
The line also offers freight services along the line and provides the option for diverting freight trains from the existing, longer route via the Forth Bridge.
2008 – no more PFI
Other measures were noted. The devolved government in Scotland has acted energetically to improve the lives of many electors. Scottish measures to help the frail elderly and students are well known but far more is being done. The Scottish Government announced that the new South Glasgow Hospital would be publicly funded instead of using the expensive and often unreliable PFI system.
2008 – Scottish food for Scottish people
The government is aiming to see more beef, lamb, pig, chicken, fruit, salmon and white fish processed in Scotland rather than being exported. The Rural Affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said “I would like to see more Scottish food ending up on our plates.”
2008 – no more nuclear power
Tidal and wave generated renewable energy, hydropower and offshore wind is being backed. Alex Salmond explained that it has no need to install more nuclear power, ‘a dirty technology’, in which it has no advantage.
More energy is now generated in Scotland by renewables than nuclear power and exports of electricity to UK rose by 50% last year.
2013 – Community land reform
Remote crofting communities are being enabled to flourish and Scots have been given the right to buy land they’ve worked for years. The Agricultural Holdings Review which was launched to examine the situation of land ownership and use, tenant-owner relationships, and the relevant legislation eventually led to Land Reform (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Parliament passed by the Scottish Parliament on 16 March 2016. It created a Community Right to Buy for Sustainable Development. Like the earlier Crofting Community Right to Buy and the Community Right to Buy abandoned or derelict land, the Community Right to Buy for Sustainable Development does not require a willing seller but allows ministers to compel landowners to sell if they decide that the sale will further sustainable development in the area.
2015 – GM crops ban
Scotland banned the use of all genetically modified crops in a move which the government says will preserve the country’s “clean and green brand”. There was “no evidence” of a demand for GM crops among consumers in Scotland, The SNP rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said, adding: “The Scottish Government has long-standing concerns about GM crops – concerns that are shared by other European countries and consumers, and which should not be dismissed lightly.”
2016 – MSPs back fracking ban
MSPs backed an outright ban on fracking proposed by Scottish Labour. There are ongoing calls for first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s temporary prohibition or moratorium on the technology being used in Scotland to be made permanent.
2017 – basic income trial
Four Scottish councils are to undertake feasibility studies and to develop pilot models for the first pilot basic income schemes in the UK, with the support of a £250,000 grant announced by the Scottish government last month. This funding will cover the financial years 2018-19 and 2019-20
2019 – call to recognise state of Palestine
A cross-party coalition of Scottish politicians urges Britain to uphold the rule of law and recognise the state of Palestine.
2019 – dignity in dying
On March 31, The Sunday Times reported that a group of nine MSPs has called for dignity in death for people who face ‘terrible suffering’ called to mind many other reports of beneficial developments in Scotland.