Federation celebrates end of sustainable energy project
THE SCOTTISH Islands Federation (SIF) held its annual general meeting at the Atlantic Centre, Luing, in late December.
Among other activities, the board celebrated the completion of project SMILEGOV, a 30-month European project funded by Intelligent Energy Europe.
The SMILEGOV project’s acronym derives from Smart Islands Governance, a critical consideration for island communities aspiring to sustainability.
The project supported more effective approaches to strategic energy planning and development of sustainable energy projects on islands.
SIF participated alongside 11 other networks spanning 163 island authorities throughout the Baltic, Mediterranean and Atlantic regions and beyond, nearly all represented by local government personnel.
The ‘community non-governmental organisation (NGO)’ model for leading developments on Scottish islands with which SIF has worked is distinct and is of interest to other consortium members, motivating a study group of Estonian islanders to visit Mull in June 2015. Par- allel programmes of themed island energy workshops have effectively pooled information, knowledge and perspectives to enhance capacity for development of island energy plans and projects throughout Europe.
In Argyll and Bute, Highland and North Ayrshire, SIF facilitated energy audits undertaken by local communities in participating islands. These have been deposited with the local authorities and will be reviewed regularly.
Terry Hegarty, SIF’s SMILEGOV Project Officer, said: ‘ Energy Audits can supply data essential for improved energy planning, to enhance the resilience of island communities.
‘SIF has learned from SMILEGOV that best practice energy planning for islands ideally involves all key interests coming together to take action, regularly reviewing local scope for efficiencies, fuel substitution and renewable generation.
‘Elsewhere in Europe, this process is generally led by local authorities, but on many Scottish islands community-led development trusts and similar NGOs have a key role to play in shaping more sustainable island futures for themselves.’
CHEERS: Chairwoman Camille Dressler, from Eigg, and treasurer Frank Corcoran raise a glass of Oban malt to SMILEGOV.