Moving the clocks forward a month earlier would be good for tourism, benefit people’s health and save money on heating, according to the chairman of Visit Scotland.
Mike Cantlay says the current arrangement, in which clocks go back at the end of March, is illogical and denies people an extra hour of daylight earlier in the year.
His call was welcomed by industry chiefs and backed by Scottish farmers yesterday, but the Scottish Government said more children would have to travel to school in darkness if the current system was changed.
Mr Cantlay said: “During March the vast bulk of British citizens are still in bed when dawn arrives. Yet in the early evening, when we could make most use of limited spring daylight, darkness falls between 6pm and 7pm. There is no good reason why we wait so much longer coming out of winter to change the clocks.”
Mr Cantlay said he started to question the current system when he was the convener of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. He said although clocks move forward seven weeks before the shortest day, it is a full 13 weeks after that point until they are moved back.
“Over the past few weeks have you wondered why light streams through your bedroom curtains between 5am and 6am when most of us are still in bed? Surely the principle of daylight saving is to save daylight.”
Mr Cantlay said the current system of Daylight Saving Time, which began in 1895, could be changed to the US system in which clocks change at the beginning of March.
The tourism chief said changing the timing of Daylight Saving could have an important boost on the tourism industry in Scotland by encouraging people to get out and about earlier in the year: “That extra hour of daylight would have a profoundly positive effect on outdoor pursuits, including golf, walking, cycling, fishing skiing and mountaineering.
“When people are on holiday they are rarely up at 5am to catch the daylight. On the other hand, everybody is awake in the early evening. That is when we need daylight – it is that simple.”
Sally Wilson, who is chairman of the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs, said she did not think farmers would object to Mr Cantlay’s proposals – although they are often cited as a reason for the present system.
She added: “We work by the light and not by the clock. We get up based on when on when it is light. Whether it gets light at five or at seven you are still going to have to go to work.”
Iain McMillan, director of CBI Scotland, said it was an interesting idea which could make a difference to the economy. He added: “This is not something we have considered in the past, but it is certainly an idea worth exploring.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “This matter is reserved to the UK government. Our view is that the current system should be maintained to protect the safety of children travelling to Scotland’s schools.”