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September 10, 2008

Barra and Vatersay at ‘cutting edge’ of climate change

Launched by the Scottish Government with the Scottish Greens in June, the Climate Challenge Fund totals £18.8 million available to communities over the next three years. Two communities in the Western Isles have just received funding to take forward ambitious plans to reduce their carbon footprint


THE launch of a landmark project on Barra and Vatersay took place this week to allow local people to make substantial reductions in their carbon emissions alongside substantial financial savings. The Climate Challenge Fund, established earlier this year will provide £62,000 to help support a range of innovative projects on both islands.

Barra and Vatersay Community Limited is an example of a community-led response to the challenge of climate change. Funding will help develop an action plan to look at ways in which environmental benefits could be delivered to all 1,150 residents on the islands.

This follows on from the SEEM (Save the Environment, Energy, Money) project, launched by Barra and Vatersay Community Limited earlier this year, which outlined key areas to develop for the benefit of the local community, whilst reducing the islands’ impact on climate change.

Actions already underway include:

* Developing plans for a 900Kw community-owned wind turbine
* Working with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Waste Aware Western Isles and Community Recycling Network Scotland to improve waste management and recycling facilities
* Working with housing associations to improve energy efficiency and reduce fuel poverty
* Working with local food group and North Bay Community Garden to work towards a significant increase in local food production

Patrick Harvie MSP said: “The Western Isles have a crucial role to play as Scotland starts to tackle climate change. As fuel costs rise, the islands regularly see some of the country’s most substantial increases in living costs. Similarly, as sea levels rise and extreme weather patterns become more common, the Western Isles may well bear the brunt.

“However, Barra, Vatersay and the other isles are also uniquely blessed with the potential for renewable energy. Well-sited wind power will bring big rewards, especially community turbines like those being supported today. Larger-scale offshore wind and wave power could generate enough power to keep the lights on across Scotland.

“Greens believe local economies are stronger economies, and this project is no exception. Funding is being provided today to increase local food production and to cut waste. These are measures that could be beneficial across the whole country, but more remote communities like Barra and Vatersay will see even greater benefits from moves of this sort.

“People on Barra and Vatersay have a vision for how they can make radical improvements to their quality of life, reduce their costs, and live more sustainably. This project shows they’re at the cutting edge on climate change, and their work will inspire others across the country.

“We believed Scotland was capable of exactly this kind of community innovation when we proposed the Climate Challenge Fund last year. Wherever you are in the country, if you have ideas about how you could help beat climate change, please do visit to find out more and apply for money to make those ideas happen.”

Launched by the Scottish Government with the Scottish Greens in June, the Climate Challenge Fund totals £18.8 million available over three years (2008-2011).

The fund is open to applications from organisations including voluntary bodies, charities, schools, colleges, universities, local authorities and housing partnerships to fund projects which demonstrate a significant reduction in emissions.

It is part of a wide range of efforts by the Scottish Government to reduce Scotland’s carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.