Despite the continuing slump in many of Britian's traditional industries and a fall in capital investment, a number of enterprising groups are expanding trade with new ideas and products.
British Petroleum has joined with researchers at Aberdeen University in a tree-breeding project on a 40-acre site near Aberdeen seaport. The new plantations, which will develop oak, ash, beech, sycamore, willow, and rowan saplings in greenhouses, are geared to partly supply an annual United Kingdom market of 40 million seedlings with an initial delivery of 500,000 young trees.
BP has said the joint tree-growing scheme with Aberdeen University is part of the oil company's plans to diversify from the petroleum industry and help with university research. Aberdeen University, which has suffered with other academic institutions in cutbacks from government funds, sees the seedling development as a way to earn valuable income in the fairly near future.
The state-owned Forestry Commission has also joined in a drive to use more UK trees for the home market -- Britain used to be a large timber importer from Scandinavia and Canada -- and the commission is selling thousands of tons of logs to Sweden. Most of the exported timber is felled in the Sottish highlands plantations and processed at a computer- controlled mill near the northwest town of Fort William.
Another valuable contract for Scotland has been a L3 million ($5.4 million) order from a Swedish clothing company to supply protective wear for deep-sea fishermen and construction workers. The contract, which will run for 10 years, has been won by a new cooperative organization in a Scots fishing community in northeast Scotland.
Another example of UK enterprise is a tomato-growing projct linked to a major electricity generator, the hot water from the plant's turbines supplying liquid noursihment to the growing tomatoes. The water tanks in which the tamatoes flourish have already produced an excellent crop of 2,000 tons, and this experiment in an English town appears to have demonstrated a cheaper way of growing quality t omatoes.