Major housing retrofit proposed for ‘greener’ Glasgow

Retrofitting 450,000 homes for energy efficiency and address Glasgow’s underlying problems with poverty and inequality are included in “revolutionary” multi-billion-pound proposals to transform the city, according to council leader Susan Aitken.

Major housing retrofit proposed for ‘greener’ Glasgow

Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken

Speaking to The Herald on Sunday, SNP councillor Aitken said the city - which in November will host the UN climate summit, COP26 - also plans to cover the M8 at Charing Cross and explore the possibility of using the River Clyde to generate energy.

Ms Aitken said: “We want to really exploit the Clyde’s renewable energy potential. The most important thing we can do with our river is heat. We think we can heat half the city. Certainly, the estimation is that around 50 per cent of the city could be sourced by the Clyde.

“One of the big-scale interventions needed is to get the city to net zero – domestic heat is massively important for that. We need to get the city onto renewable heat sources.”

As well as becoming a source of energy, Ms Aitken wants the Clyde to rival the River Seine or the River Thames and become a vibrant, bustling waterway which creates jobs.

She said: “One of the things that’s holding back that potential is that within 150 metres of either side of its banks we’ve significant amounts of vacant and derelict land. Many of these vacant lots are in areas of deprivation. That’s not coincidental.”

Around £60 million is being spent to fix quay walls. A tidal barrier is also needed.

Transport is an important part of the plan, which seeks to create a metro system of trams, rapid transit buses and light rail – connecting all parts of the city.

Ms Aitken said: “The lack of connectivity reinforces inequality. It cuts people off from economic opportunities.

“There are places which aren’t accessible by public transport, only car, and this in a city which has the lowest car ownership in the UK.”

She said she wanted to create more “car-free zones”.

To this end, she plans to “put a cap over the M8”, essentially putting the stretch of the motorway at Charing Cross underground so a new public space can be created – reconnecting the Mitchell Library and Anderston with Charing Cross, enabling pedestrians to walk the route.

The plan will also address Glasgow’s “historically bad recycling rates”.

“We throw far too much stuff out,” Ms Aitken said. “We need to change that. There’s some difficult messages there. It’s not your human right to chuck whatever you want in your green bin.”

She hopes younger people “tell their elders they need to change their attitude”.

Asked when the city will see progress on her plans, Ms Aitken said: “When we can resource it, which we hope could be sooner rather than later.”

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