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December 3, 2008

Renewable energy – empowering communities

Jim Mather, minister for enterprise, spoke recently about the work of Community Energy Scotland. “Successful communities have made renewable energy work for them in that intelligent way of the new self-sufficiency, which is generating more confidence and resilience, and is retaining wealth in situ.”

Jim Mather

Highlands and islands communities powering ahead

18 November 2008

Community energy issues took centre stage at the Scottish Parliament last week. Nicholas Gubbins, Community Energy Scotland chief executive was invited to give evidence to the Economy Energy and Tourism Committee in its enquiry into “Determining and delivering Scotland’s energy future” . On behalf of the many Highlands and Islands community wind projects Community Energy Scotland is currently supporting, Nicholas highlighted to the committee the major hindrances in the lengthy and difficult planning process and the integration of community renewable generation projects onto weak electricity networks. Nicholas also advised the Committee of the situation with the Melness community wind project which is being held up due to a prohibitive cost of £1.8 million to get it onto the distribution network. Later in the day, a Members’ Debate took place in the Parliament Chamber on the motion raised by Dave Thompson MSP on the creation of Community Energy Scotland. During the introduction to his motion, Dave Thompson MSP made reference to the Eigg electrification, Knoydart hydro and the Gigha wind turbine projects and to the presentations given by each group to MSPs during the launch of Community Energy Scotland at the Parliament on 7 October. He also welcomed recent news from Orkney of the success of the Stronsay community and the Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre Development Trust community turbine projects in their planning applications. Four applications for community wind projects in Lewis and one community wind project in South Uist are also expected to be in the planning system by early December. All the Members who attended the debate were supportive of the motion and recognised the considerable benefits which such community schemes can bring. Jim Mather, Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism’s concluded that “Community Energy Scotland has a terrific track record of getting many community renewables projects off the ground” and that the result of this has been “successful communities that have made renewable energy work for them in that intelligent way of the new self-sufficiency, which is generating more confidence and more resilience, and is retaining wealth in situ”. He referred to the Scottish Government’s framework for the development of renewables in Scotland which included distributed energy and community-based schemes. He referred “the relentless march of Community Energy Scotland out of the Highlands and Islands” and into communities elsewhere in Scotland. He welcomed the vital role which social enterprises play in “harnessing the potential for renewables, driving local regeneration, and promoting solidarity, cohesion and sustainability in communities across Scotland, leaving a legacy for future generations.”

You can read the official report of this Members’ Debate at Community Energy Scotland has also now opened for membership and invites any community organisation keen to become involved and join this new Community Energy Network to visit