Independence can make the cruise industry work for Scotland. here’s how

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THE environmental cost of the growing number of cruise ships visiting Scotland is another reason for independence, according to the Scottish Greens.

Many ports in Scotland are anticipating record numbers of huge ships amid growing concerns about environmental impact.

West of Scotland MSP Ross Greer said while cruise ships bring economic benefits, their success depended on preserving Scotland’s world-famous natural environment that visitors came to see .

“These giant cruise ships have a pretty devastating impact on that,” he said. “Often the size of small towns, ships generate large volumes of oily bilge water, sewage sludge and hazardous waste that often ends up in our seas. Running their engines day and night while in port also contributes to air and noise pollution for coastal communities.

READ MORE: Scotland’s ferry row misses a real problem – ships unsuitable for the islands they serve

“The growth in popularity and size of cruise liners over recent years means we need to update environmental regulations to clean up their use, but due to the nature of the problem this would require the cooperation of the UK government. with every Scottish effort. The government does. Given this, the ability to properly protect our coastal communities from overtourism and environmental damage can be seen as yet another reason for all of these powers to rest here in Scotland.

The pandemic does not appear to have dampened cruise demand and nearly 200 ships are expected this year in Orkney alone, the first full season since the pandemic began.

Overall in Scotland the cruise tourism industry grew year on year until the March 2020 lockdown, with almost 900 calls and over 800,000 cruise passengers visiting Scotland in 2019. The growth should continue in the longer term as new vessels enter the market.

A recent review of cruise tourism in Scotland found it supports over 800 staff, generating an estimated £23m GVA for the Scottish economy, but warns that the environmental impact and sustainability of cruise operations are of growing concern.

“There is also evidence of local negative impacts resulting from the high volume of cruise passengers in some places in Scotland,” the review says for VisitScotland, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the Scottish Government.

He goes on to warn that if socio-environmental impacts are not properly managed, there is a risk that the visitor experience will be diminished and there will be negative impacts on the marine and coastal environment, as well as on coastal and wider communities.

“With visitor numbers continuing to rise, unmanaged growth is unsustainable,” the review says. “Issues include pressure/congestion on the local transport network, demand for amenities such as toilets and utilities and overcrowding, not only at tourist attractions but also in town centres, and these effects can be considerable.”

Between 60% and 90% of businesses and communities surveyed in Orkney and Shetland reported significant negative impacts at times, with overcrowding and strain on services and amenities also highlighted as issues on the islands Western and Edinburgh.

The large number of ship visitors converging on the same sites also poses problems, according to the study.

“Ineffective management leads to erosion and other environmental degradation,” he says.

“Pressure points exist in Orkney, Shetland, Skye and the Western Isles. They are more important where infrastructure is modest, outdated and where there are few alternative routes.

“Feedback from some destinations (e.g. Western Isles, Edinburgh and Orkney) suggests that the lack of an effective visitor management strategy will limit the future growth of cruise tourism.”

The review adds that there also appears to be a lack of coordination at the national level.

“This limits Scotland’s ability to manage visitor numbers to all destinations or respond to changes in consumer preferences,” the study said.

Accordingly, it recommends a “joint and cohesive approach involving all stakeholders to ensure that cruising develops according to the capacity, appetite and, above all, the development priorities of the cities, towns and communities that support the ‘cruise tourism industry in Scotland’. .

Better environmental monitoring systems in ports could also help encourage more environmentally friendly ships, and port developments such as shore power could offset the negative impacts of cruise tourism.

The review concludes that Scotland could lead the way as the world’s leading responsible cruise destination, but to do this a “much more strategic and coordinated approach is needed at every level of the cruise ecosystem to addressing challenges and seizing opportunities…and ensuring the sector follows a model of sustainable development that contributes to the realization of benefits for communities, destinations and visitors”.

In recent years, a number of ports have invested millions of pounds to accommodate more cruise ships docking in Scotland.

Construction of a new Greenock Cruise Ship Welcome Center is underway as part of a £19.2million development which will accommodate passengers and crew on some of the largest and most popular ships most luxurious in the world in Inverclyde. The development is expected to boost visitor numbers to 150,000 passengers a year and deliver a £26million boost to Scotland’s economy.

In Shetland, Lerwick Port Authority’s future vision for cruise traffic development includes possible dredging to increase ship berth capacity at Mair’s Pier and a longer-term proposal to create a new berth deep water mooring capable of accommodating large cruise ships.

A total of £18.9million has been spent to develop Scrabster Port in Caithness to enable it to accommodate larger vessels, while Inverness is planning an expansion of port infrastructure which could meet the demands specific to cruise ships.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘Scotland was the first country to include a fair share of emissions from international aviation and shipping in its statutory national climate targets and we report on this every year.’

They continued: “Reducing emissions from shipping, including cruises, will require coordinated international action. The Scottish Government is working with the UK Government to support International Maritime Organization (IMO) proposals to drastically reduce carbon emissions from shipping in the global sector, including the option of introducing a global tax on marine fuel to fund research into cleaner fuels and technologies. .

“We are also committed to reviewing the scope of the use of hybrid and low-carbon energy sources in the public sector marine fleet as part of our vessel replacement program.

“We continue to recognize the benefits that cruise tourism can bring to Scottish rural economies, particularly our islands.

“It has the potential to not only support local high streets through direct spending, but also local tour operators and tourist attractions.”

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