NATIONAL PLANNING FRAMEWORK FOR SCOTLAND
160. On the East Coast, the Aberdeen-Edinburgh-Newcastle corridor has strategic development potential, offering opportunities to develop knowledge economy links based on the expertise associated with the energy and offshore industries and the universities in Aberdeen, Dundee, St Andrews, Edinburgh and Newcastle. Investment in East Coast transport infrastructure to reduce road and rail journey times can help to unlock this potential. There are also opportunities to develop North Sea and Baltic connections. Again these issues will be addressed in the Strategic Projects Review.
161. North Sea oil has been a key driver of the Scottish economy over the last 30 years and will continue to make a contribution well into this century. However, with the emphasis having shifted from development to production, the labour force is expected to decline significantly. Advances in technology and management combined with restructuring of the global energy industry could lead to a decline of 9,000 oil-related jobs in North-East Scotland by 2016. Aberdeen must build on its strengths as an energy centre and Scotland's northern gateway and broaden its business base. The city's oil and gas expertise is now being applied to the development of renewable energy. The Aberdeen City Vision focuses on improving the quality of the environment in the city centre and developing cultural and recreational facilities to create a more vibrant social scene. There is scope for attracting more tourists to the city and expanding the service sector, including financial services. The city's role as a regional media centre provides a base from which to build a larger creative sector. There is a need to improve access to Aberdeen Airport by public transport.
162. The challenge for Dundee is to reverse population loss. Great strides have been taken in the past decade in improving the quality of the city centre, enhancing cultural facilities and establishing new knowledge-economy clusters. Many young people come to the city for further education. The challenge is to encourage a higher proportion of them to stay. The strategy for the Dundee city region will be to promote regeneration, neighbourhood renewal and further improvements to the quality of urban living within the city boundary. Priorities include the redevelopment of the Waterfront and the further development of knowledge economy clusters such as the Digital Media Campus, the Tech Park, the Medipark and the Scottish Crop Research Unit and the improvement of public transport services to these growth areas. Reducing the rail journey time to Edinburgh to under an hour would help to attract high value jobs to the city.
163. Inverness needs to develop its role as the Highland capital, broaden its economic base, improve its connections to the other cities and the rest of the world, and attract a wider range of high quality jobs. Inverness and the Inner Moray Firth is an economic development zone with considerable potential. To the east of the city, the A96 corridor and the airport offer opportunities for future expansion.
164. Stirling and Perth lie at strategic points on Scotland's transport network. Their accessibility and the quality of environment they offer make them attractive locations for development. Perthshire and Stirlingshire have important links with the Glasgow and Edinburgh city regions and provide the interface between Lowland and Highland Scotland. Angus and Eastern Perthshire have strong links to Dundee and there is scope for developing complementary roles for Dundee and Perth as the main centres on the Tay. For Fife, good connections with Edinburgh and Dundee are important. There is considerable potential for building on the international profile of St Andrews as a leisure destination and centre of academic excellence.
AYRSHIRE AND THE SOUTH-WEST
165. Ayrshire and the South-West are an important gateway for Scotland. The aim should be to build on the success of Prestwick Airport, realise the potential of deep-water assets at Hunterston and strengthen strategic transport corridors between Ireland and the Continent. There is a need to improve connectivity to secure better integration with the economy of the Central Belt.
166. To date, Ayrshire has been less successful than some other areas in securing knowledge economy investment to replace the jobs lost in traditional industries. However, the Ayrshire Economic Forum has responded positively to the challenges with its strategy for Ayrshire - Scotland's Western Gateway. In Central Ayrshire, the transport corridors linking Prestwick Airport and the ports of Ayr, Troon and Hunterston with the main urban centres of the Central Belt provide good locations for developing clusters of export-oriented industries and a stronger service sector. The improved link to the Glasgow Conurbation provided by the M77 is acting as a catalyst for new development in the Kilmarnock area, though constraints imposed by lack of capacity in water and drainage infrastructure require to be addressed. Arran and parts of the Ayrshire coast already have a successful tourism and leisure economy. The area's good international links provide opportunities for the further development of cultural, business and activity-based tourism.
167. Action is required to improve environmental quality in the former mining areas of East Ayrshire. Upland areas offer potential for renewable energy developments, including biomass production. The Ayrshire and Arran Woodland Strategy places emphasis on the potential for enhancing landscape quality and creating multi-purpose woodlands which benefit local communities and offer employment in planting, management and downstream activities.
168. For the South-West, links to Ireland and Cumbria offer substantial business opportunities, particularly in tourism and leisure. There is potential for developing the area's strengths in forestry and quality produce and as a place to live and work. The challenge for Dumfries is to develop its role as the main regional centre and transport hub for the South-West. The Crichton University Campus has become an outstanding centre for business, education and innovation. The success of Wigtown Book Town and its Festival highlights the potential for imaginative marketing of the area's attractive environment and historic small towns.