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May 6, 2009

Preparing for the post oil age

When the price of oil soared last year, it served as a wake- up call for many remote communities. The Assynt Foundation which led the community buy out of the Glencanisp and Drumrunie Estates,  felt they were overly dependent on a source of energy over which they had little or no control – and one which is going to be increasingly short supply.  The community is now exploring the use of electric and hybrid vehicles for the estate in an attempt to reduce their dependency on fossil fuels

Electric or hybrid powered vehicles are being considered by a remote Highlands community in an effort to reduce their carbon footprint.

The transport would be used in Assynt, Sutherland, in the north west Highlands.

About 44,000 acres of the area are community owned following a series of estate buy-outs.

Community company Assynt Renewables is looking at a number of options to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

Under consideration, is charging up the vehicles from power supplied by micro-renewable schemes or hydrogen fuel cells.

As well as considering electric vehicles, the group is to carrying out a series of energy audits to establish a baseline carbon footprint of the area, insulate homes and looking at linking clusters of houses to micro-renewable schemes.

Other proposals include greater use of locally grown wood for fuel and trying to reduce food miles through increased use of local produce – primarily venison and seafood – and exploring options for local food processing.
Mark Lazzeri, development manager for the Assynt Foundation and a member of the board of Assynt Renewables, said the effort would start with small steps.

He said: “We will investigate ways to make the most of the resources we have around us from food to fuel sources.”

Board member Chris Chant added: “One of the exciting possibilities we are exploring is how to reduce our fuel for transport so we investigating options such as electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles.

“Transport is a real issue here and we had a real wake up call when the price of oil rocketed last summer.

“We want to prepare ourselves for big fluctuations in oil prices as supplies become more uncertain in the future.”

Assynt Renewables was recently awarded £74,220 from the Climate Challenge Fund to pursue the projects.

Changeworks, Community Energy Scotland and the John Muir Trust are also supporting the effort.