In our place, or in our place?
The good news is that Scotland still has a maritime infrastructure.
The bad news is that our ports are largely controlled by private monopolies who run them as investments with little or no regard for the development of Scottish interests. International sea travel direct from Scotland? International trade direct between Scotland and the rest of the world? A regular ferry service between Orkney and Europe? Convenient and comfortable inter-island travel? These are the basic elements of the maritime policy required to kick-start any small nation’s economy.
So do we in Scotland have the confidence not to be kept in our place, but find our place on the map again?
Maritime Plans for Orkney
Professor Alf Baird, an authority on Scottish and international maritime matters, argues that we undoubtedly have the skills in Scotland to build ships and run ports. In A Maritime Vision for an Independent Scotland, he calls for a national shipping policy to achieve revival of Scotland’s seaports. In Fife, in Orkney and on the Clyde he advises we have the ideal places to start. He also advises that Scottish inter-island and urban ferry services should look to the example of countries such as Norway in their use of catamarans for passenger traffic. We in Orkney should welcome the recent Government funding for internal ferries. Unless however this is part of a policy of built-in sustainability, it may only prove to be a short-term fix. Professor Baird argues that it will take changes in government policy to achieve progress towards a revival of our former maritime success; something which only an independent Scotland will ever have the power to do.