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One of Scotland’s renowned academics will explore how Edinburgh Airport can shape a more prosperous Scottish economy moving towards net zero.

Professor Duncan Maclennan will look at the role of Edinburgh Airport in civic Scotland by reviewing international experience and contrasting Edinburgh and Scotland’s approach to balancing aviation emission reductions and economic wellbeing with strategies now being deployed in Sydney and Toronto.

It is hoped the report will form the basis for a national conversation in Scotland that drives the sustainable growth of cities in tandem with important international trade connections.

Professor Maclennan, an economist with an international reputation for work relating to cities, neighbourhoods, infrastructure and housing, will explore how leading global cities work with their local airports and how those collaborative relationships can benefit, economically and environmentally, the wider communities, cities, regions and nations they serve.

The report has been commissioned by Edinburgh Airport as part of its Greater Good sustainability strategy as the airport works towards a more sustainable future and ensures positive contributions to local and national communities.

Professor Maclennan is currently undertaking the work and engaging with a variety of organisations and government bodies, considering:

  • The positive impact of commercial aviation on metropolitan economic development

  • How governments work with airports to deliver future growth and meet important sustainability targets and objectives

  • The role of airports in delivering prosperity on a local and national scale

  • The move to net zero and aviation’s role in supporting the transition

Professor Maclennan said:

“Scotland has to shift to net zero, but we also have to sustain growing prosperity not least to support a fairer Scotland and improve fraying public services. Prosperity can be enhanced by community wealth building but for most Scots innovation, productivity and trade will be the route to wellbeing. And that requires connectivity.

“Technological change in aircraft design, engines and fuels, available globally, will be part of the solution but it is clear that strategic approaches, at national and metropolitan scales, to the economic roles of airports and the infrastructure systems they are part of can radically alter the steepness of economy-emission trade-offs for the future. Scotland needs to explore these options, and for the long term.”

Sir John Elvidge, Chairman of Edinburgh Airport said:

“Well supported airports play critical roles in their local communities and in the economies of the nations they serve. There are some excellent examples around the world of where joined-up thinking around the development of cities and collaboration with transport providers leads directly to sustained and sustainable economic growth and drives social change.

“We hope Professor Maclennan’s report will provoke a national conversation in Scotland, one that brings local and central government – and the private sector and other infrastructure developers and investors to the table to consider the international examples Duncan is studying and look for opportunities for Scotland to be a world leader.

"It is also important, in this context, that we have a serious and informed conversation about our climate, aviation and its role in a net zero economy. There are many exciting developments in aviation, which is pioneering new fuels and the technology that will reduce its impact on the climate and reduce the amount of carbon it uses. We can and will be environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.”


Professor Duncan Maclennan has had a distinguished career as an applied economist specialising in housing, neighbourhoods and cities. His professional roles have spanned senior positions in both academic and government settings, in the UK, Canada and Australia. At the University of Glasgow in the 1980s he established and led the Centre for Housing and Urban Research and in the 1990s directed the ESRC Cities and Competitiveness Program and JRF programs on Housing Finance, Housing and the Macro-Economy and housing and Area Regeneration.

From 1999 Professor Maclennan spent a decade working in government, as special Adviser to the First Minister of Scotland, as a Chief Economist in the Government of Victoria and as Chief Economist in Canada’s Federal Department for Infrastructure and Cities. He has acted as adviser to Ministers in the UK, Scotland, France, Poland and Norway, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Academy of Social Sciences and the Royal Town Planning Institute. He was awarded a CBE for services to UK housing research in 1996. He remains affiliated to the University of Glasgow as an Emeritus Professor of Urban Economics and holds similar part-time Chairs at the City Futures Research Centre, UNSW, Sydney and at McMaster University, Ontario.

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