Call for communities to unite

Wind Turbines have had increased power output due to storm conditions.

Wind Turbines have had increased power output due to storm conditions.

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Community energy is currently at a critical point, with subsidy cuts, lack of grid capacity, and increased planning hurdles causing communities to re-evaluate their energy projects.

Community Energy Scotland (CES) are therefore calling for community groups interested in renewables or energy efficiency to come together for a conference being held on the 2nd of December at the Creative Industries Media Centre on Seaforth Road, Stornoway.

The conference will give communities the opportunity to look at ways to tackle the current issues facing community energy and to work together to progress their projects.

One of the main issues being discussed at the conference is the current uncertainty over the Government subsidy known as the Feed in Tariff (FiT).

CES have been involved in making the case for a Community FiT to both the Scottish and UK Governments.

The conference will also include presentations from the West Harris Trust, Galson Trust and Barra and Vatersay Community Ltd on what sort of projects they have progressed and how they succeeded with these.

There will be workshops looking at finance for community renewables projects, employment and HR issues for community trusts, subsidy cuts and the effects these may have and how communities can adapt in the lights of these, and Orkney’s response to grid restrictions. SSE, the Comhairle and Local Energy Scotland will also be presenting.

Nicholas Gubbins, Community Energy Scotland’s Chief Executive said: “It’s currently an open question as to whether the FiT will survive after January 2016, and the uncertainty that the UK Government has created is highly corrosive to community energy development.

“Community renewables have provided a ‘development lifeline’ to many communities, especially those in fragile, remote or deprived areas.

“The FiT scheme has not only enabled the generation of renewable energy but has also triggered a blossoming of community confidence and innovation around community-owned projects.

“Ironically, community projects have only taken a very small share of the overall FiT budget. It will be a tragedy if this fantastic progress grinds to a halt owing to this hasty policy change.”

To find out more about the event please get in touch with Kathleen MacDonald on Kathleen.macdonald@communityenergyscotland.org.uk or 01851 707 881.