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Mapping out options in debate

THE first Scottish atlas to be published since the 19th century has been hailed as a powerful weapon in the independence debate.

The publication is believed to be the first of its kind in the world to map not only landscapes, towns and cities, but also the nation's productivity and resources.

It highlights problems with Scotland's transport network, as well as claiming the country is too focused on the Central Belt.

The Reid Foundation, the think tank behind it, hopes the Atlas of Productivity will encourage people to see Scotland in a new light. Director Robin McAlpine said: "It's no surprise the two key people involved in producing this atlas are independence supporters, and part of the independence campaign is about making people look at Scotland afresh again.

"To live in a country with the natural resources we have and not make the most of them is a wasted opportunity."

Produced by Lateral North as part of the Reid Foundation's Common Weal project, the atlas is peppered with facts about the state of Scotland's resources, infrastructure and productivity.

For example, it shows that Scotland has only one ferry that goes outside the country, to Northern Ireland. There are no connections to any Nordic countries, despite a ferry from Copenhagen to Torshavn passing straight through the middle of the Orkney and Shetland islands. McApline estimated that, by 2030, 25% of worldwide cargo will traverse Arctic waters, with Scotland strategically placed to exploit the changes.

The atlas - which features artistic photography from around Scotland - also shows that more than 80% of Scottish land is privately owned, with 50% owned by just 432 proprietors.

Authors Graham Hogg and Tom Smith said: "A key message of the atlas is to get people thinking differently about Scotland, whether it be considering a migration of people to the Highlands and Islands to exploit resources there, thinking about ourselves as an island nation again, or taking advantage of these new and emerging resources in the Nordic and Arctic regions.

"Most of all it is to get people to think about Scotland's future differently."

The Atlas costs £40 and is available at www.allofusfirst.org.

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