A SECOND independence referendum must take place no later than 2024 to give Scotland the opportunity to lead the world in a 21st century green version of the “Clydebuilt” era, according to a think tank.

The call is made in the second part of a major report by the Common Weal, setting out a vision of an alternative economic recovery strategy for the country in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.

The next term of the Scottish Parliament, due to span from 2021-2025, should be used to focus on developing a green economy and incubating projects for a transformative Green New Deal, it states.

Preparation work could include training staff such as joiners, plumbers, electricians and engineers for large-scale projects such as insulating all of Scotland’s buildings or retrofitting district heating.

However, the report points out the limits of what can be achieved under devolution – and says there will come a point when Scotland will have to choose to pursue this future or remain part of the UK.

“For this reason a detailed proposal for how Scottish independence will be achieved will be prepared and this will be put to the people of Scotland not later than year three of this Parliament,” it says.

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The blueprint, which covers the years 2021-2025, calls for Scotland to accelerate economic transformation focusing on “green re-industrialisation”, which would create high-paid jobs and increase national prosperity.

The steps which could be taken include setting up a dedicated company to provide supplies for the NHS and replacing council tax with a “fairer property tax which also taxes land”.

A radical programme of land reform would have to be undertaken to provide access to essential resources, while a new focus on wellbeing would shift away from using GDP as the primary measure of economic success.

A National Circular Economy Strategy must also be produced, it states, with the aim of reducing waste and maximising the use of resources through more sharing, reusing, repairing and manufacturing.

The report says: “Moving away from plastic in particular (but other environmentally harmful materials too like the overuse of concrete) not only has very important environmental impacts but, for Scotland, significant economic ones.

“Scotland has simultaneously the lowest level of forestry in Europe but the biggest potential for forestry in Europe. Wood crops (and associated crops like hemp and bamboo) are now routinely used as the basis for advanced material production.”

Over this time period, preparations for a full Green New Deal – including decarbonising heating, electricity and transport – should get underway to get the projects “shovel-ready”, even if they cannot be achieved with the powers under devolution.

THE think tank warns even if the Scottish Parliament was given unlimited borrowing powers to deliver this vision, it could never repay the debt because Westminster would gain most of the financial advantage from the investment.

“No matter how many powers are devolved, until Scotland had full fiscal autonomy it could not pursue a Green New Deal,” the report says.

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“For this reason Scotland’s citizens must be given a choice – to choose to complete this plan by opting to become an independent nation or, effectively, to abandon it and revert to whatever economic and climate change policy the government at Westminster was pursuing at that time.

“To give Scotland that choice a commission will be set up to devise a detailed proposal for Scottish independence.

“This is not ‘another case for independence’ because the case is that Scotland wishes to complete this plan and finally deliver a new kind of economy.”

Robin McAlpine, director of Common Weal, said a key part of the report was focused on using the next term of the Scottish Parliament as an “incubator” for a Green New Deal.

“We use the same time to create a proper, detailed case for how we set up an independent Scotland,” he said.

“Then, not later than year three of that Parliament we put the exciting, inspirational plans for a Green New Deal (along with the hundreds of thousands of jobs it will create) on the table along with the plan for setting up an independent nation state.

“And we tell people that the former isn’t possible without the latter.”

He added: “Scotland would move into a new era with a 21st-century version of the ‘Clydebuilt’ history in which Scotland led the world because of the quality of its innovation, engineer, design, manufacturing and construction.”

The Resilient Scotland report, the third stage of which will examine the 20 years it will take to complete the Green New Deal, has been backed by a number of politicians and commentators.

SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said there was an opportunity for a greener, more sustainable and fairer society and it was an “exciting agenda for change”.

He said: “Much of this can be done if the public support is there using current political structures. But it will soon become apparent that our ambition will be compromised by our capacity to act.

“So many of these ideas will necessarily become part of the new prospectus for political independence for our country.”

Green MSP Andy Wightman said translating the aspiration of a different post-Covid economy in Scotland into reality will be “extremely challenging”.

He added: “Common Weal’s report brings some welcome clarity to what needs to change in the short term and why. Many of the proposals are part of daily life in many normal European countries.”