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September 23, 2009

£1 million question about to be answered

Last September it was announced that the Isle of Eigg had made it through to the final of NESTA’s Big Green Challenge – Scotland’s only representative.  For the past twelve months, this tiny community, comprising just 38 households, have had one big focus – winning the prize of £1million and the chance to implement their ambitious plans for the island.  The finishing line is in sight

BIG GREEN CHALLENGE                              

On 11th September 2008, it was announced that the Isle of Eigg had made it into the last 10 of the Big Green Challenge, a NESTA lottery backed competition which will
award £1million to a small number of the ten finalist communities which reduce their CO2 emissions by as much as possible, in innovative ways, which engage
their community, and can be replicated elsewhere.

We now have a year to put our plan into action starting from November 2008 & will be given £20,000 from NESTA to do so, for which match funding is being sought. 

Our project plan has two strands:

1.  Fossil Fuel Energy Descent
    The Trust’s proposal is to reduce CO2 emissions over the 12 months by focusing on high CO2 emitting fossil fuels of
         ~ Coal & Kerosene – burnt to heat residents’ homes and water.
         ~ Diesel – used in the renewable electric grid back up generators and island vehicles.
    The methods to reduce CO2 from these three fuels on Eigg will focus on:
        ~ Developing alternative methods of space and water heating through;
                Providing access to good quality wood fuel as an alternative to coal/kerosene and, in the longer term, developing a woodland                 management scheme to harvest local timber for wood fuel.
                The installation of pilot solar thermal panels systems on three island homes and in the Pier Centre, with the expectation that this can                 be replicated in the future.
         ~ Transport; focusing on;
                Reducing the use of island vehicles through provision of an all year round mini bus, run in part on recycled chip oil.
                Encouraging more walking and cycling, the latter through financial incentives to help bike or electric bike purchase.
                Reducing need for 4×4 vehicles required by creating more passing places on the road.
                Reducing the amount of waste going into the skip through recycling, reducing and composting, thus reducing the number of times the                 skip lorry comes to Eigg to take the skip to landfill.  A reduction of waste to landfill will also reduce Eigg’s methane emissions
                Offering visitors who normally come by car to Eigg, and chose instead to use public transport, discounts on their accommodation.
                Encouraging residents to make low CO2 travel choices for mainland journeys.
                Replace diesel post van with an electric van.
        ~ Electricity conservation, to reduce need for generator back up, particularly in the summer through standby switch off, low energy light                 bulbs, voluntary electrical load spread and other conservation methods.
        ~ Energy efficiency and conservation in domestic, business and community facilities through insulation, draught proofing and other                 initiatives.

2. An education and outreach programme called “Build Your OWN Green Island”
John Donne wrote “no man is an island”.  Our project plan starts from the principle that if every individual on this island does their bit to reduce use of fossil fuel, what we achieve as a community is more than the sum of its parts.  It becomes a way of life.
       ~ A family home in a suburb of Anytown is an island of mum, dad and 2.4 children
       ~ We live on an island of 86 people
       ~ A tower block is an island made up of flats
       ~ A bird watching club is an island of people who share an interest

If all those living on these ‘islands’ agree to collectively do their bit through individual choices and actions, then the sum total it achieves becomes a way of life and an example to others.

Through an extensive outreach and education programme, the Isle of Eigg will support people across the UK to build their own green island, using on and offline toolkits, events, and multi-media applications based on our experience of reducing CO2 over a 12 month period.  A social network style website will have a user generated content section where people can put up their own Wikis, photographs, diaries, video diaries etc, growing week by week into a community of Green Islands, each sharing its own inspiration, activities, successes and advice.

Build Your OWN Green Island will make benefit of the fact that as islanders we have to live within limits, encouraging those who live elsewhere to set their own limits and try to work within them. Eigg, as the first Green Island will inspire others to do the same.


If successful, we would propose to build upon what’s been achieved in the finalists’ year.  We hope to win all, or a large part of the £1million prize, and with it and
funds from other sources hope to undertake projects such as:
       ~  Install solar thermal panels in 15 other homes
       ~  Install additional PV panels to provide additional renewable energy during summer months
       ~  Install high efficiency wood fuel boilers in 6 houses
       ~  Build solar porches on 3 south facing elevations of older houses
       ~  Invest in wood fuel business – equipment and/or buildings
       ~  Eco-renovation programme of three Trust properties
       ~  Purchase an electric mini bus for Community Transport scheme
       ~  Purchase six electric vehicles to be leased to residents
       ~  Install an anaerobic digester to produce compost and further reduce waste
       ~  Support  Build Your OWN Green Island towards self-sufficency with three year project fund
       ~  Undertake renewably powered water taxi service feasibility study
       ~  Run courses in conjunction with the island’s Earth Connections Centre
       ~  Local food production and processing project


Isle of Eigg targets for CO2 for emissions from fossils fuels used to provide electricity, space and water heating only.
      Tonnes of CO2 per household
      Before Eigg renewable grid, switched on Feb 2008              9.6 tonnes
      After renewable grid, but before finalists year
      – Feb 2008 to October 2008                                             6.2 tonnes
      Target for after the Big Green Challenge Year
      – November 2009                                                              4 tonnes
      Target for 3 years after winning Big Green Challenge
      – October 2012                                                                 2.75 tonnes
      Total reduction per household                                             6.85 tonnes

This would mean a percentage reduction of:

Between November ’07 and November ’08 (the monitoring period) – reduction of 56%

If our ultimate target of 2.75 tonnes is achieved, this would mean an overall reduction of 71% between November ’07 and November 2012