Jenny Fyall: Time will tell if dream can be realised

IT IS an almost utopian vision. A city where solar panels power the swimming pools, turbines turn gracefully in the pollution-free wind, residents are swept into town on electric buses and greenery lines boulevard-like streets.

Can this, however, really become reality?

Sustainable Glasgow, a new consortium involving the city council, Strathclyde University and others has set an ambitious ten-year timeframe to bring about a transformation that will deliver a 30 per cent reduction in the city's carbon emissions.

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It is a hugely ambitious idea, particularly as the consortium is depending almost entirely on the private sector to supply the estimated 1.5 billion needed to bring it about.

The city's entire transport network, heating systems, and energy provision will have to be overhauled. However, those physical changes may start to seem easy in comparison to the gargantuan challenge of trying to persuade the folk of Glasgow that this plan is a good idea.

As soon as the words "congestion charging" are uttered mass opposition is likely to blow up, on a scale similar to that seen when a similar proposal was aired in Edinburgh.

Already, a glimpse of a rift has appeared. Congestion charging is recommended in Strathclyde University's report, unveiled yesterday, but the city council leader quickly made it clear to The Scotsman he would not support such a move.

Add into the mix pressure from motorists, businesses and general members of the public and some of the ideas in the report begin to look like more like pie in the sky than emissions savings on the ground.

Another monumental challenge will be generating the cash. The report optimistically suggests the plans would "attract" 1.5bn investment.

However, that money does not just grow on trees – even those that will soon line Glasgow's streets.

Without at least a fairly large lump sum of public money to kick-start action, it is difficult to envisage how many of these proposals will be paid for.

Making the dear green place greener is great on (recycled) paper. But is it possible in reality? Only time will t1ell.