Comment posted Scotland should think hard before exploiting its rare earths by Derek Pretswell.
Before we start looking at these important technical details can we address the nature of the development which is to exploit a non-renewable resource. The Brundtland Commission report, Our Common Future, talks about the wise use of our resources including non-renewable and I would argue that the wise use in the case of minerals is to leave the local community better off than when the development started.
This type of development should be used as a catalyst for renewable resource development. The landscape that is held up to us as a wilderness is in fact an ecological slum and capable of so much more. When we can link the quality of the local community’s life to the existence of a diverse productive ‘northern’ environment then we can build true conservation, true sustainability and break the dependency cycle.
So before a sod of earth is moved can we look at the development plan and see if the local community are the beneficiaries or will it once again go to the landowner who has done nothing but own the piece of land. Jobs are not a benefit in the long term, think of Fife mining villages that faced economic ruin when the pits closed. A ‘real’ fund administered by the local community should be used to build their renewable economic base (and I don’t mean windfarms)so that when the ‘mine’ closes their community is already economically independent of it. …Just a thought.
Derek Pretswell also commented
- My primary thought is to build quality of life for our communities, and as I’ve said before community is not a demographic concept it is a behavioural one; a sense of belonging and willingness to participate within individuals. It is individuals who make up the community and what better platform to stand on than that which gives each individual the chance to control their own lives by being a resource holder with a mixed economic portfolio; small holding plus job just like Norwegian farmers who may also be diplomats teachers or shop workers.
Sustainable development requires the development of environmental, social and economic factors, much like the work, people and place of Patrick Geddes. Unfortunately for us the economic factor is unyielding and so the social and environmental factors suffer. Those who use the word sustainable do so often without having read the Brundtland report and don’t understand its tri-partite nature.
Our economic policy is to maximise profit and for the environment that has resulted in a monocultural attitude. Our landscape is under achieving, we are still sold the nonsense that the extent of our heather moorlands is natural and that the remote highlands represent a wilderness area. We were a forested country, the romans called us the land of the high forest, and the main reason it isn’t so today is because we have destroyed it. There was a period of climate change, the Atlantic phase, when it became colder and wetter but his affected other western edge areas of Europe and they still have forest. If one looks at bioclimatic data and compare like with like those identical areas of Europe are forested. Forest isn’t just about trees, it does so many important things for the soils; improving depth and fertility, controlling the amount of water in the soil, and importantly for the rest and be thankful, it stabilises soils on gradients. This biological potential is little understood by many of the resource holders who seek to maximise the profitability of their land.
If we make the land the best it can be, develop ‘industry’ that lives off the biological interest generated by the biological capital, put local resources under local control so that the quality of life of the local community is dependent on the existence of the diverse biological resource, then we get proper conservation and real sustainable development.
So where we have a non-renewable resource then if we harvest it properly, with environmental safeguards, we can use the profits from this to pump prime, like a catalyst, the development of renewable business. This will also require a new realtionship between landowner and local community for profit sharing until such times as we can change the land ownership pattern in this country. Perhaps we should be looking at Land Rental Value (LRV) as a starting point?
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