Tha càraichean-dealain nan eisimpleir eile air an ana-ceartas a tha coimhearsnachdan iomallach a' fulang, tha Murray MacLeòid ag ràdh

Tha mapa ri fhaighinn a sheallas na h-àitichean air feadh Alba far am faigh thu air bataraidh càr dealain a lìonadh às ùr agus tha e follaiseach gu bheil na sgìrean iomallach – aon uair eile – air am fàgail air dheireadh.

Tha àitichean gu leòr anns na bailtean mòra far am faigh thu air bataraidh càr dealain a lìonadh às ùr, ach chan eil sin fìor mun iomall
Tha àitichean gu leòr anns na bailtean mòra far am faigh thu air bataraidh càr dealain a lìonadh às ùr, ach chan eil sin fìor mun iomall

[English-language version below]

Tha saoghal ùr nan càraichean-dealain a-nis againn, ged a tha e soilleir nach eil na leasachaidhean air a' bhun-structur a dh’fheumas tighinn na chois a’ tachairt faisg cho luath.

Ceart gu leòr, tha adhartas mòr air a thighinn ann an ùine glè bheag. Tha na h-àiteachan anns an urrainn dhut cumhachd a chur ann an càr-dealain air àrdachadh bho 55 ann an 2013 gu 1,800 ann an 2021 agus tha mòran chàraichean an-diugh anns a bheil teicneòlas a dh’innseas càite am faodadh tu dol airson a leithid de sheirbheis.

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Ach, ma tha thu a-muigh air an iomall, dìochuimhnich mu dheidhinn. Coltach ri, cha mhòr a h-uile càil eile, tha an t-adhartas gu lèir air tachairt far a bheil tòrr sluaigh. Cha leig thu leas ach sùil a thoirt air a’ mhapa a th’ aig “Charge Place Scotland” – buidheann a chuir Riaghaltas na h-Alba air dòigh airson càraichean-dealain a bhrosnachadh.

Fad sìos an taobh an ear agus ann am meadhan na h-Alba, chì thu na ceudan de dh’ionadan-cumhachd son càraichean-dealain agus iad gu lèir gu math faisg air làimh. Ach air a’ Ghàidhealtachd agus sgìrean iomallach Shiorrachd Obar Dheathain ‘s e a' chaochladh a tha fìor.

Mar eisimpleir, air an A82 eadar An Gearasdan agus Inbhir Nis – rathad a tha, mar a bhios fios aig gu leòr, gu math trang – chan eil ach trì dhe na h-ionadan rim faighinn thairis slighe a tha gu math nas fhaide na sin eadar Dùn Èideann is Glaschu, far nach gabh cha mhòr an cunntadh.

Tha seo dìreach na eisimpleir eile air an ana-cheartas a tha na coimhearsnachdan iomallach a’ fulang.

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Dh’fhaodar a bhith air teicneòlas a chleachdadh airson cùisean a rèiteachadh, ach seach gun deach a chur gu feum ann an dòigh eile, ‘s ann a tha cùisean nas miosa buileach.

‘S e a’ bhann-leathann an eisimpleir as miosa. Chaidh a ràdh an toiseach gur e cothrom a bhiodh ann na coimhearsnachdan dùthchail ath-bheòthachadh; dh’fhaodadh daoine fuireach far na thogradh iad agus cothrom a bhith aca air a h-uile seòrsa mìorbhail ùr, agus dh’fhaodar companaidhean a stèidheadhadh cho fad às ‘s a thogradh tu.

Ach, ‘s e a thachair ach gun deach am bun-structur a stèidheachadh anns na bailtean mòra an toiseach agus le sin, chan e a-mhàin nach d’ fhuair an iomall buannachd às, ach chaidh an ana-cheartas a bha cho follaiseach mar tha a dhaingeachadh.

Tha na h-àireamhan a’ sealltainn dhuinn a dh’aindeoin nan adhartas mìorbhaileach ann an teicneòlas gu bheil an sluagh air an iomall a’ dol sìos agus barrachd dhaoine air an tarraing chun a' mheadhain, le buaidh mhòr air rudan mar sgoiltean is seirbheisean.

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Le ìmpidh mhòr a bhith nas bàidheile dhan àrainneachd, tha na càraichean-dealain dol a dh’fhàs nas bicheanta agus nas saoire agus na h-einnseanan peatroil is diosal nas cosgaile agus fo chìsean mòra.

Mura tig atharrachadh air an dòigh-smaoineachadh ma choinneimh a bhith a’ leasachadh a' bhun-structur, agus gu sònraichte, far a bheileas ga chur an sàs, ‘s e buille eile a bhios ann gar coimhearsnachdan iomallach.

Saoilidh sinne a tha a’ roghnachadh fuireach anns an leithid g’ eil sinn air ar peansachadh gabh taobh dhan tionndadh sinn. Cò chanadh gur e adhartas a tha seo?

Tapa leibh airson an aithris a tha seo a leughadh. Tha sinn an eismeil ur taic nas motha na bha riamh agus buaidh a’ Choronbhirus air buaidh a thoirt air luchd sanasachd. Mur eil sibh air a dhèanamh mar-tha, ma se ur toil, nach beachdaich sibh taic a chumail ri ar obair-naidheachd earbsach, a tha sinn a’ dearbhadh a tha fìor, le bhith toirt a-mach ballrachd digiteach.

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Even a cursory glance at the electric vehicle charging map of Scotland will demonstrate that we are already heading on a journey where large swathes of the more rural communities are going to be left behind.

The electric car revolution is very much in the here and now, even if the supporting infrastructure required in terms of making them accessible to all is struggling to play catch up.

Significant improvements have been made in a relatively short space of time – public charge points have risen from just 55 in 2013 to over 1,800 in 2021 – and many cars now have an in-built navigation system that, in theory anyway, can get you comfortably from one charging point to the next.

But if you live out in the sticks, forget it. As with so much else, all the progress is skewed towards the centres of population. If in doubt, just have a look at the map provided by Charge Place Scotland – a Scottish Government initiative to increase public charging points.

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All down the east coast and in the Central Belt, there are hundreds available within close proximity. But in the Highlands and rural Aberdeenshire, it’s a different state of affairs.

For example, on the A82 between Fort William and Inverness – which anyone familiar with will know is hardly devoid of heavy traffic – there is a grand total of three charging points over a distance considerably longer than that between Edinburgh to Glasgow, where the charging points are, to all intents and purposes, innumerable.

This is just yet another example of rural discrimation. Where technology could, and should, have provided a level playing field, its unsympathetic deployment has just created more inequality.

Broadband was the most recent – and possibly worst – example. It was billed as an opportunity to revitalise rural communities, people could live wherever they wanted and still have access to all sorts of modern wonders; they could set up businesses remotely.

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But what transpired, perhaps predictably, was that the infrastructure was directed towards the centres of population first, so any possible advantage for rural areas was not just declared null and void, but actually exacerbated an already disproportionate imbalance of opportunity.

The statistics show that despite huge advances in connectivity and technology, the rate of depopulation in rural communities is actually on the increase as more and more gravitate towards the centre, with a knock-on effect on services such as schools and shops which, in turn, only conspire to make the situation worse.

In the rush to a zero-carbon economy, electric cars are going to get more plentiful and cheaper and the traditional options more expensive and heavily taxed.

Unless there is a major re-think on how the infrastructure is developed, and more importantly where it is installed, it’s going to be yet another blow for already struggling rural communities. Those who choose to make rural Scotland their home should not be perpetually penalised for doing so. That’s hardly progress.

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