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Scottish expert advisory panel on the collaborative economy: evidence paper

Published: 29 Jan 2018
Part of:

The Scottish Expert Advisory Panel on the Collaborative Economy makes recommendations on how Scotland can position itself in the collaborative economy.

52 page PDF


52 page PDF


Scottish expert advisory panel on the collaborative economy: evidence paper
Annex B: Geography of Scotland and implication for the collaborative economy

52 page PDF


Annex B: Geography of Scotland and implication for the collaborative economy

The geography of Scotland is strongly polarised between relatively few densely populated urban areas, and vast rural areas that are barely inhabited. One third of the population live in four large cities, each home to over 125,000 people, which are clustered in the Central Belt (Glasgow and Edinburgh) and the southern part of the East Coast (Dundee and Aberdeen); another third of the population live in either small towns (less than 10,000 people) or rural areas (less than 3,000).

Overall, urban areas and towns (of any size) account for only 2 per cent of the surface of Scotland, but are home to 82 per cent of its population. Of the remaining 18 per cent living in rural areas, one third face a drive time of over half an hour to reach the closest settlement with a population of at least 10,000.

Figure 4: Distribution of population and land across Scotland

Areas Population Surface
Large urban areas 35% 0.7%
Other urban areas 35% 1.0%
Accessible small towns 9% 0.3%
Remote small towns 2% 0.1%
Very remote small towns 1% 0.1%
Urban areas and towns 82% 2.1%
Accessible rural areas 12% 27.5%
Remote rural areas 3% 28.4%
Very remote rural areas 3% 42.0%
Rural areas 18% 97.9%

Source: Scottish Government, Urban/Rural Classification, November 2014

Due to the coexistence of large cities and vast rural areas, empowering communities across Scotland to embrace the opportunities and overcome the challenges posed by the collaborative economy is likely to require tailored and localised solutions, rather than a blanket approach, as these opportunities and challenges will be very different in different parts of the country.

The following table provides some additional information on the Scottish population and households, both on a Scotland-wide level and for a small selection of local authorities at the two ends of the urban-rural divide: the two largest cities (Glasgow and Edinburgh), the largest rural area (Highland), and one island (Orkney).

These areas are characterised by very different levels of population density, home and car ownership, connectivity, as well as differences in the predominant house type and size, and this needs to be taken into account when assessing the impact of peer to peer accommodation, transportation, and other sectors of the collaborative economy.

Figure 5: Population and household statistics in Scotland

Local Authority Scotland Glasgow Edinburgh Highland Orkney
Population ('000) 5,295 593 477 232 21
Density (per hectare) 0.7 34.0 18.1 0.1 0.2
Households ('000) 2,434 291 231 107 10
Owner occupied 61% 45% 58% 68% 72%
Social rent 23% 36% 14% 19% 17%
Private rent 14% 18% 27% 12% 10%
House 65% 32% 37% 90% 95%
Flat 35% 68% 63% 10% 5%
1 bedroom 4% 20% 20% 8% 12%
2 bedrooms 32% 47% 37% 30% 28%
3 bedrooms 43% 25% 28% 39% 37%
4+ bedrooms 21% 8% 15% 23% 23%
Car access 70% 51% 60% 70% 80%
Internet access 80% 73% 89% 80% 83%

Source: 2011 Census (December 2012) for population and density, 2015 Scottish Household Survey (September 2016) for household statistics