THE WESTERN Isles Development Trust (WIDT) has agreed to work in partnership with Community Energy Scotland (CES) over a two-year period to help community groups in the Western Isles improve energy efficiency and progress renewable energy schemes.
WIDT currently invites applications from community groups for funding for projects with a focus on alleviating fuel poverty and promoting renewable energy. To date it has invested almost £75,000 in payments to promote these objectives. Beneficiaries include: Cothrom Limited, South Uist; Western Isles Community Care Forum, Harris; Kinloch Historical Society, Lewis; Western Isles Association for Mental Health, Stornoway; Back FC, Lewis; the West Harris Trust and the Hebrides Energy Community Interest Company, Stornoway.
Since its inception CES has helped support numerous community energy efficiency, feasibility and renewables projects in the islands.
The WIDT has agreed to provide support of more than £28,000 to CES to allow it to continue to provide assistance to community groups to develop projects and obtain support from funders (including the WIDT).
If a community group in the Western Isles is looking to improve energy efficiency or develop a renewable energy scheme it is invited to visit the websites of both CES and WIDT for more information. ISLES MP Angus MacNeil made a last ditch attempt to convince the UK Government to offer support to island renewable projects when he met ministers this week.
There is just over a week until the end of the UK Government’s consultation on whether Remote Island Wind projects should be subsidised in future and Mr MacNeil met with ministers from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) on Tuesday to give his input.
The UK Government has already decided to end onshore wind subsidies but is considering whether remote island projects should be treated differently.
Mr MacNeil said: ‘ Without support from the UK Government, island renewable projects are less viable and this may in turn threaten the viability of the interconnector project.
‘This is not a one-way exchange as a thriving island renewables sector would be a win-win for the government. Renewable energy from the Scottish islands is cheaper than procuring it from offshore sources and with the islands being the best wind resource in Europe, tapping into its potential would greatly assist the government in achieving its energy targets.’
He said the UK Government’s decision in November not to allow island projects to bid in the next round of Contract for Difference was ‘extremely disappointing’ especially as island-based projects were already disadvantaged through crippling transmission charges.
‘I hope the outcome of this consultation will however bring a brighter future for island renewables,’ he said.
‘I know public agencies and community groups in the islands are responding to the consultation and I would urge any group or individual with an interest in this sector to make a submission.
‘This may be the last chance to convince the UK Government.’
Mr MacNeil discussed the situation with some community renewable representatives on Monday and met with BEIS ministers on Tuesday.