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Uncovering Perth Lade in city centre could boost biodiversity and help tackle growing ‘challenges’

An illustration of changes to Mill Street in Perth.
How Perth city centre could look. Illustration by Richard Carman.

Leaders in Perth have shared a vision of the kind of dramatic changes that could promote more plant and animal life in the city centre.

Civic leaders in Perth are trying to make the city Scotland’s biodiversity capital. That is part of a wider project to win the accolade of most sustainable small city in Europe.

The illustration suggests opening up the Perth Lade around Mill Street to create a space containing open water, nature-rich greenspace, pedestrianisation and active travel.

The watercourse currently runs underground the city centre street before flowing into the River Tay.

How Mill Street currently looks.
How Mill Street currently looks.

Members of the Perth City Leadership Forum recently hosted a biodiversity conference exploring the idea in more depth.

NatureScot’s Tayside area manager Denise Reed shared the image to show the ambition and innovation behind the group’s work.

She said it was not a design blueprint for city centre changes, but suggested what could be possible if “we want to bring about real transformational change to the biodiversity in the city.”

Biodiversity illustration shows ‘art of the possible’

Densie told attendees at the free online meeting: “Imagine this vibrant location in the city of Perth. This is the scale of transformation.”

She said illustrator Richard Carman had shown “just what the art of the possible could be.”

She added: “My challenge therefore is to be ambitious and think out of the box for the city of Perth biodiversity project ideas.

Illustration by Richard Carman.
Illustration by Richard Carman.

“Use the existing natural assets baseline, build on existing good projects and consider largescale transformative ideas.

“We need to make sure we have successfully won the hearts and minds of communities so that they are willing to help us co-design projects that bring other benefits to them such as health and wellbeing, active travel, access to green space and having a more attractive place to live and work.”

Mayor of the Finnish city of Lahti Pekka Timonen joined Perth and Kinross Council leader Murray Lyle in opening the conference.

The European Commission named Lahti European Green Capital last year.

Biodiversity part of the answer to ‘precarious’ economy

Mike Robinson is chair of the Perth City Leadership Forum. He is also chief executive of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, based in Perth.

Mike suggested improving sustainability and championing biodiversity would build on Perth’s strengths and help tackle some of its weaknesses.

He said: “Perth is not without its challenges. It is not viewed as favourably as it could be on the national stage, it feels as if it is constantly overlooked.

RSGS chief executive Mike Robinson
RSGS chief executive Mike Robinson

“Its economy is precarious – an over reliance on retail and the diminution of its importance for its energy, insurance, whisky and other industries and traditions.

“We don’t just want to be more sustainable because we like sustainability. We want to be more sustainable because it is in our DNA.”

He said the city’s natural assets were what “our existing businesses rely on”.

“It is what brings tourists to want to visit Perth. And it is what brings people to want to live in Perth.

“It is what our future demands. It is what our young people need from us. And it is something the whole world is striving towards.”

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