THE present coronavirus pandemic has brought about huge changes in the way we think, where, how and when we work.

A large number of people have had to change their working practices. They have survived during the financial crisis created by the pandemic by working from home but have had to adapt to working in often what are not ideal conditions.

If working from home is going to continue then perhaps we in Scotland have to look at how we are going to plan for such a radical change. We have to re-evaluate and capitalise on some of our natural resources for the benefit of those who live and work in Scotland.

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Working from home will mean that travelling five days a week in to and out of the cities will be a thing of the past, and therefore consideration should be given to developing new 21st-century style clachans in the Scottish countryside. They could be located on the south-facing slopes of the foothills in order to take advantage of solar power and should also be at a level above any future flooding that could accrue from our changing climate and projected rising sea levels. Each clachan could have its own water supply and environmentally friendly sewage disposal system.

People could live and work in a small community and yet with the modern superfast internet connection would be connected to the international community. Such a community would have the advantage of homes with integral office accommodation, which would initially be more expensive but when the cost of daily travel in and out of the city is taken into account such properties may, in the longer term, be a better investment. Depending on the tax rules there could be provision to offset some of the costs against tax liability. A local road network would connect the clachans to the nearest village but would not require dual carriageways as the volume of traffic would be relatively low.

During the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries in Scotland large numbers of people from the Scottish countryside moved into the big cities with appalling living conditions just in order to obtain work. Now, in the 21st century, relatively small numbers of people would be moving from the cities to live and work in the countryside.

After the Second World War, new towns were planned and developed in Scotland to meet the massive demand for public housing. Perhaps now is the time to meet the changing living conditions and work practices brought about by the coronavirus pandemic and develop new clachans. Less travel into the cities for work would mean a reduction in atmospheric pollution, time would be saved and stress be reduced. The home workers would be living and working in a much healthier environment and at the same time creating space in the cities that could be planted with trees and shrubs and encourage the greening of our cities.

There are large areas of Scotland which could be suitable for developing the new-style clachans and it would be the responsibility of the planning authorities to identify suitable sites.

The pandemic has brought with it a lot of heartache and sorrow but it is also forcing us, as a society, to think deeply about many things we have in the past taken for granted. Change, forced or otherwise, brings with it opportunities on which the up-and-coming generations will capitalise.

Would there be the possibility that some members of the Scots diaspora, who are tired of working in large cities throughout the world, would want to return “home” and live and work in one of the new clachans in Scotland’s beautiful countryside?

Note: the Scots Dictionary describes a clachan as “a hamlet, a village containing a church and an alehouse”.

Thomas L Inglis

THE National Trust for Scotland expresses its “sadness” that its celebrity ambassador, a high-profile advocate of the top-down official nationalism of the establishment, “has chosen not to seek renewal of the role of the charity’s President with effect from September, following completion of a three-year term”. The Trust also tells us that this decision has been long-planned.

This in turn suggests that all the criticism the appointment has generated over the years has had zero impact.

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Following reflection on the matter, it appears that the Trust remains comfortable with being seen to be partisan on the country’s biggest political division of our time, and content to have knowingly alienated approximately half of the population, including people who might have otherwise been its advocates. It appears too that it would have preferred to continue the task it has adopted of trying to prevent Scotland becoming a normal country.

Prof Aonghus MacKechnie

I SEE that Neil Oliver is to step down as President of the National Trust for Scotland. I am glad now to be able to renew my support for the Trust and my membership.

James Scott

THIS time I hope the trustees will appoint a president who presents an image of the Trust which is attractive to the majority of people living in Scotland, especially to those on the younger side of 60.

Dr Elizabeth Buchan-Hepburn