Scottish islands eye sustainability

Islands in the Outer Hebrides are stepping up efforts to reduce their environmental impact - and become more self sufficient at the same time.

Barra and Vatersay, the southernmost inhabited islands in the chain, are planning to grow more food locally to reduce the amount of produce shipped over from Oban on the mainland and erect a community-owned wind turbine.

There are also plans to improve recycling facilities and energy efficiency in homes.

The efforts will be supported with a £62,000 grant from the Scottish Executive, with the assembly’s Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead visiting Barra this week to announce the funding.

A conference was also held on Barra for other remote Scottish communities to discuss the challenges and opportunities presented by climate change.

Mr Lochhead said: “Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing us today, both here in Scotland and across the world. We want Scotland and its local communities to be part of the global solution.

“There are many things we can do as individuals to reduce our carbon emissions, but by acting and working together as communities we can do much more.

“That’s why supporting communities such as Barra and Vatersay through the Climate Challenge Fund is so important. It will empower people to take action to reduce their carbon footprint and make a real difference to the local and national environment.

“The Scottish Government with the Scottish Greens has launched the £18.8 million fund to deliver innovative solutions at a local level such as improving energy efficiency, promoting renewable energy and producing local, sustainable food.

“As well as significantly reducing emissions, these measures will also bring wider social and economic benefits to improve the quality of life in communities. This is part of an exciting new era for community empowerment and I’d encourage others who want to make a difference locally and globally to come forward with their ideas.”

Sam Bond

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