SMILEGOV Summary Report for Scottish Island Federation AGM December 2015, Terry Hegarty, SMILEGOV project officer
The Scottish Islands Federation (SIF) has recently completed involvement in a 30 month European project to support more effective approaches to strategic energy planning and development of sustainable energy projects on islands.
The SMILEGOV project’s acronym derives from ‘Smart Islands Governance’, a critical consideration for island communities aspiring to sustainability. The capacity of individual islands to comply with European energy targets widely depends upon collaborative planning and effective participatory engagement of key stakeholders. These typically include agencies of both local and central government, island community and business interests, land owners, energy companies, regulatory bodies and technology specialists.
Scotland offered a distinct model
Elsewhere in Europe, Municipal or Regional Authorities commonly lead development of sustainable energy projects and plans for islands. SIF has thus 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 NGO’ model for leading developments on Scottish islands with which SIF has worked is quite distinct and evidently of interest to some other consortium members, motivating a study group of Estonian Islanders to visit Mull in June 2015.
Parallel programmes of themed island energy workshops arranged and reported throughout Europe have effectively pooled information, knowledge and perspectives to enhance capacity for development of island energy plans and projects throughout SMILEGOV’s ‘clusters’.
Energy priorities for Islands
Energy priorities facing Islands were identified, drawn together and addressed, through SMILEGOV consultations and reports completed (or in the pipeline):
- Business Models
- New Technologies
- Smart Grids
- Permit Processes
In Scotland constraints facing island energy projects in Scotland notably include:
- Grid constraints
- Accessibility of data to inform plans
- Planning constraints
- Local capacity to lead developments
- Consistency of government support
Best practice highlighted
Through SMILEGOV, difficulties, best practice and achievements have also been highlighted. See the SMILEGOV case studies of the project website at www.sustaianbleislands.eu.
SIF worked with Community Energy Scotland (CES) to monitor, support and report on progress of a number of individual energy projects within our cluster of Scottish Islands.
8 energy audits completed for Scottish islands
Inspired by SMILEGOV, and also supported by CES through Local Energy Scotland, SIF initiated a separate project to facilitate Island Energy Audits for participating Scottish islands. Each of eight resulting reports presents useful baseline data to inform more effective approaches to energy planning at island level. Follow up activity is already being pursued in the cases of Iona and The Small Isles
Islands as test beds
Due to the generic nature of energy challenges facing islands, it is increasingly recognised in Scotland as elsewhere, that islands may serve as valuable test beds for emergent technologies, and proving grounds for more effective multilateral approaches to strategic local energy planning for sustainability.