New EU Intergroup for Islands as well as Seas, Rivers, and Coastal areas.

Kick off meeting for new EU Seas, Rivers, Islands and Coastal areas  Intergroup

At long last, there will be an Intergroup in the EU parliament that will look into Island issues specifically. although as part of a wider remit.

The Seas, Rivers, Islands and Coastal Areas Intergroup of the European Parliament was proposed to Martin Schulz by the Presidents of the Political Groups and has been approved by the Conference of Presidents. It will carry on and further develop the work led under the Seas and Coastal Areas Intergroup, which the CPMR had strongly supported since 2010 acting as its Secretariat.

Gesine Meissner (DE-ALDE) is the new President of the Intergroup that met for the first time in Strasbourg on 15 January 2015.

Members of the Intergroup also voted for the Vice-Presidents responsible for thematic and geographic priorities that will include the sea basin strategies and the island dimension.

Different political groups and nationalities will contribute to the work of this renewed Intergroup that will carry on and further develop the work led under the Seas and Coastal Areas Intergroup.

In close cooperation with the CPMR, the Intergroup will promote an integrated approach to issues such as the relationship between blue growth and green growth, the European maritime industry. The attractiveness of maritime professions and the sustainable development of coastal areas will also be covered. Particular attention will also be given to the sea basin strategies and the island dimension.

“This is very good news for the whole of maritime Europe, to which the CPMR belongs, and a just recognition of the work led by members of the Seas and Coastal Areas Intergroup during the previous legislature. This shows that the European Parliament acknowledges how vitally important the seas and coastal regions are for the future of Europe. The Intergroup, working together with our maritime regions, will be able to put forward concrete proposals to the Commission and the Council to develop the tremendous potential of the sea in a more responsible and sustainable way,” stated Vasco Alves Cordeiro, President of the Regional Government of the Azores and CPMR President.

Camille Dressler, Scottish Islands Federation Chair says: “this is very good news, and means that we can start working with the Intergroup on the issues that are most important to ESIN and its members, and which we flagged up with our Island Champion Pledge initiative during last year’s  EU parliament elections.” 

Community power

Community Power is the way forward shows CES

The 2014 Community Energy Scotland conference held in Edinburgh last November reiterated that point very strongly.

Existing grid constraints unlikely to be resolved quickly means that today more than ever, community energy makes sense.   In the context of Scotland’s extensive fuel poverty which is particularly acute in the islands, ‘community energy can directly impact on high fuel costs’ said John MacDonald of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, as he outlined plans to set up the first Hebridean Energy company supplier.

One particularly inspiring story was told by Alan Hobbett about a group of housing associations  in the Scottish Borders addressing fuel poverty by getting into power generation themselves.

Orkney again showed how they lead the way in community led smart demand side management. ‘We want to use the curtailment system to show that we can bring to the grid 500 kW that will benefit communities,’ said speaker Brian Clegg  from Hoy.

Andy Oliver from Gigha Green Power also presented the innovative Vanadium Redox Flow battery storage system which will be operative in June 2015. (see islands going green)

It was also inspiring to see solidarity with the developing world at work with the presentation of the CES work in Malawi.

CES Support for local energy  economy projects

Nicholas Gubbins, Chief Executive at Community Energy Scotland has pledged his organisation to supporting more local energy economy projects in 2015.

Nicholas Gubbins said ‘Local Energy Economies are about taking local responsibility for energy demand and energy generation, and then taking steps to match the local needs with local energy production opportunities.  In 2015 more communities will want to own their own heat or power generation plants. It is about more than technology. People want to take more local control of their own energy issues and do what is right for their local economy and their precious environments.’

The charity Community Energy Scotland has led the movement for more local ownership and benefit from renewable energy for more than ten years. ‘The Local Energy Economy concept encompasses wise use of energy as well as renewable production. Joining up the thinking around energy efficiency and tackling the high cost of heat for many householders is driving our thinking,’ added Nicholas.

Community Power is about positive action

Community energy activists are not about complaining but rather positive action. They can see the successes of the early community energy projects and want to take a further step, generating the power and heat their communities need in the way their communities want.

See www.communityenergyscotland.org.uk for the 2014 conference papers and the help CES can deliver to communities interested in developing their own energy solutions.