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Cabinet Secretary addresses Bilbao’s Hydro 2012 conference

31 October 2012

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop has launched a new website celebrating international industrial heritage.

Historic Scotland’s Digitising Heritage initiative has brought archives from the Norwegian Museum of Hydropower and Energy and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) together to document industrial heritage sites from around the world. It also supports the work of The International Committee on the Conservation of Industrial Heritage (TICCIH)

The first heritage sites to feature on the website are the best examples of Scotland and Norway’s hydropower industry.

Speaking through a filmed address on the closing day of Hydro 2012 conference in Bilbao in Spain, Ms Hyslop highlighted the importance of recognising industrial heritage.

Ms Hyslop said:

“Industry is a key part of Scotland’s cultural heritage, particularly hydropower where in several instances world-leading innovations were developed by engineers and designers working in Scotland from the 19th century onwards.

“I am delighted to launch the ‘Digitising Heritage’ website. Through it people anywhere in the world can find out about pioneering engineering works like Scotland’s Kinlochleven and Norway’s Tyssedal hydro stations. Built a year apart in the early 20th Century, they broke new ground in how power was generated and set a new standard that other countries aspired to.

“Though we are starting the project with existing research between Scotland and Norway this website will allow other countries to add their own sites and information to build an unprecedented global industrial heritage resource.”

Digitising Heritage makes innovative use of free web-based resources to create a unique international archive of built heritage. Further themes will follow hydroelectric power, expanding the project to other areas of industrial heritage and the built environment.

The project is community-led, and uses the knowledge and experience of a worldwide group of users to create a portal through which you can explore the history and development of the hydro sector.

Users can add or explore the data and images that are already on the site through the interactive map at

Ms Hyslop told the conference how the research into the architecture of hydropower had been used to assist in managing development to build a better relationship between industry and regulators.

The Cabinet Secretary added:

“Working in partnership with industry has resulted in practical solutions.

“On a visit to Ben Cruachan in Argyll last summer I was able to see for myself how well technology and culture combine as the hydro scheme is one of a number in Scotland to be listed as architecturally and historically important.

“There we have been able to balance the national importance of the site as a cultural landmark and created an agreement between the owner Rio Tinto Alcan and planning authorities to streamline the consents process to support the projected plant development.

“Hydro power worldwide represents both cutting-edge industry and pioneering engineering in the modern day at a time when renewable energy is top of the agenda. By proactively working with energy providers we can ensure that the heritage of a site is an asset in sustainable business growth.

“The Digitising Heritage project also helps remind us of the sheer effort behind the apparently effortless act of flipping an electric switch, helping to inspire the next generation of engineers and designers who will ensure this industry in Scotland remains at the cutting edge internationally”

To view the Cabinet Secretary’s address to the conference visit

Notes for editors

  • RCAHMS is the National Collection of materials on Scotland’s built environment that connects people to places across time. It is the first port of call for information about the built environment of Scotland, from prehistory to the present and records the changing landscape of Scotland and collects materials relating to it.
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  • The Year of Creative Scotland began on January 1, 2012 and will spotlight and celebrate Scotland’s cultural and creative strengths on a world stage. Through a dynamic and exciting year-long programme of activity celebrating our world-class events, festivals, culture and heritage, the year puts Scotland’s culture and creativity in the international spotlight with a focus on cultural tourism and developing the events industry and creative sector in Scotland. More information about the programme can be found at:

  • The Year of Creative Scotland is a Scottish Government initiative led in partnership by EventScotland, VisitScotland, Creative Scotland and VOCAL. More information and resources to help businesses engage with Year of Creative Scotland are available at

                                                         Year of Creative Scotland 2012

For further information

Lesley Brown
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603 or 07920 768 096