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The Highland Line: can Inverness become Scotland's first Green Capital?

Rob Gibson, the irrepressible SNP MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Ross seems to have had Borgen on his mind recently, or Copenhagen at least.

The city that brought us the charismatic politician Birgitte Nyborg, not to mention Sarah Lund and the Killing, has just become the new European Green Capital.

This will come as no surprise to anyone given all that cycling and woollen wear. In fact most would have assumed it already was the Green Capital. But no, until last week that was Nantes, the ancient Breton capital in France.

Mr Gibson believes that if the Danes and Bretons can be green, so can the Scots.

He is throwing down a challenge that we start thinking about getting a Scottish City to compete for the title.

He has done this by tabling a parliamentary motion at Holyrood: "That the Parliament extends its congratulations to Copenhagen, capital city of Denmark, on being named European Green Capital 2014 succeeding Nantes, the ancient capital of Brittany in France; notes the widespread practice by inhabitants of Copenhagen of cycling to work, school and college; additionally welcomes the example of a reported 24% cut in carbon emissions in the city during the last seven years; welcomes the accolade of best metro in the world for Copenhagen's urban train system, and urges the Scottish Government and COSLA to consider what it would take for a Scottish city to compete to be a future European green capital."

He certainly can't be accused of acting out of narrow constituency interest given that there are no cities in Caithness, Sutherland or Ross.

That is unless you go by the old way of a city being a place with a cathedral, in which case Dornoch in Sutherland might qualify. But that would only encourage the likes of Elgin and Brechin, whose historical 'city' status interestingly enough is now only recalled in their football teams - Brechin City, Elgin City.

It is understandable that Mr Gibson is pursuing the issue as he is convener of Holyrood's Rural Affairs, Climate Change Committee.

In fact Scotland already has a stake in the whole European Green Capital idea. It was originally conceived at a meeting in 2006 in Tallinn, Estonia as a result of an initiative taken by 15 European cities - Tallinn, Helsinki, Riga, Vilnius, Berlin, Warsaw, Madrid, Ljubljana, Prague, Vienna, Kiel, Kotka, Dartford, Tartu and last but not least Glasgow.

They submitted the so-called Tallinn Memorandum to the European Commission, proposing the establishment of an award rewarding cities that are leading the way in environmentally friendly urban living.

The first Award was given to Stockholm in 2010. Other winners were: 2011 Hamburg, Germany; 2012 Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain; 2013 Nantes; and 2014 Copenhagen.

The 2015 award has already been decided. It is going to Bristol, although Mr Gibson has so far not called on MSPs to congratulate the Bristolians as well as Copenhagenians - there is no Borgen in Bristol.

But it is not a crazy idea and one well worth pursuing. And why not for the capital of the Highlands?

Inverness is a new city and there are serious attempts being made to get it greener, not least on the cycling front.

Highland councillors have approved a number of priority projects including provision of new cycle storage shelters at Inverness Railway station and Culloden shops; development of cycle paths along Millburn Road, to complete active travel routes between the City Centre and the likes of Inverness Campus, where a lot of students should be hanging out shortly, Raigmore Hospital, retail centres, and leisure venues.

There is also to be a pilot electric bicycle hire scheme in Inverness set up by SSE at an estimated installation cost of £40,000.

So now it is just a question of getting to work on these woollen jumpers.

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