‘Empowering Islands to achieve their energy and climate targets’: Scotland and Ireland
As part of a Covenant of Mayors series of events on Climate Adaptation – from SEAPs to SECAPs – this June, SIF was delighted to be invited by DAFNI – the network of Greek sustainable islands – – to work with ESIN, the European Small Islands Federation to organise a webinar that would focus on Ireland and Scotland.
The road to becoming a fossil fuel free and climate ready island is not always smooth and easy and there are many obstacles in the way, particularly when island communities are directly involved in setting up renewable energy systems as in Scotland and now Ireland.
The webinar presents successful climate and energy solutions and methodologies in the Scottish and Irish islands, starting with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar – the Western Isles Council, one of the earliest Pact of Islands signatories and continuing with approaches pioneered in Ireland and Orkney.
Presentation of community projects on islands such as the Aran islands in Ireland, Eday in Orkney and Uist in the Hebrides enabled lessons learnt to be shared.
The important of place based strategy to leverage investment is summed up by the convener of the Scottish Low Carbon Investment Roundtable and the webinar concludes with a presentation by NESOI – the European Islands Facility – on how their approach will support the islands on the road to a Net Zero future.
You can watch the webinar on ESIN’s YouTube channel here.
You can access the presentations from Youtube (links under the video) or from here:
- How islands can support the drive towards Net Zero: John Cunningham (Comhairle nan Eilean Siar)
- Developing Island Local energy communities: Rona MacKay (Community Energy Scotland)
- Supporting Citizens and Communities in the Energy and Climate transition, Paul Kenny (Tipperary Energy Agency)
- The Aran Islands Energy Cooperative, Avril Sharkey (Aran Energy Cooperative)
- Uist Wind: key lessons learnt, triumphing over adversity, Dr Ameena Camps (Uist Wind)
- Setting up the conditions for investment in low carbon communities, Cath Preston (SEPA)
- NESOI, empowering islands, Cristina Boaretto (NESOI)
- Covenant of Mayors 2019 assessment, Yerray Hernandez (COMO)
Community Action Response call as coronavirus cases rise
Scots are being asked to ensure links within their community are strengthened as the prospect of mass social isolation grows
Communities have been urged to work together as coronavirus cases across the country rise.
In the wake of the £30 billion emergency fund announced in the budget yesterday and anticipated switch to the delay phase of the government four-part plan, leaders from different sectors have today joined forces to launch the Community Action Response to encourage everyone to do what they can to support their communities and particularly vulnerable and isolated people during Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Launched by Eden Project Communities with partners the National Lottery Community Fund, Nextdoor, Neighbourhood Watch, Campaign to End Loneliness, SCVO and Voluntary Health Scotland, the Community Action Response has been created because of the unprecedented challenge that Coronavirus presents for people in every neighbourhood in the UK.
Eden Project Communities is a UK wide network that has grown out of community building campaign The Big Lunch, which reaches over six million people in communities every year. The organisations are calling for everyone to take steps that will help communities cope when the worst impacts of the virus hit.
Community action response – five things you can do
1. Think of others, consider your actions and be kind. People in every community will face the challenges of Covid-19 in some way – from needing basic provisions to help while they are unwell.
2. Connect and reach out to your neighbours: as self-isolation increases, we need to find new ways to stay connected and check in on one another for our physical and mental wellbeing. Share phone numbers and stay in touch.
3. Make the most of local online groups: Keep up to date, share information and be a positive part of your local community conversations using platforms like Nextdoor.
4. Support vulnerable or isolated people: different groups in our communities are at increased risk and social isolation and loneliness are key concerns for all ages. There are things you can do like volunteering for local support services or donating to foodbanks to help.
5. Share accurate information and advice: Support anyone who may be anxious about Covid-19. Sign post them to the correct advice from NHS Inform Scotland and to encourage people to follow the correct hygiene practices.
Research from The Big Lunch shows nearly a fifth of us in the UK have no-one in our neighbourhoods outside our immediate family we could call on if we needed help or support. With the rapid spread of Coronavirus (Covid-19) increasingly likely, this is a real risk and combined with the need to self-isolate this gap in our community connections needs to be closed. The research also reported that more than 36 million people feel distant or very distant from their neighbours, yet three quarters of us believe it would be better for our communities if we were closer to them. The Big Lunch commissioned independent research published in their Closing the Distance report to explore how connected our people in communities in the UK feel to one another.
Bringing people together to advocate for community action, Peter Stewart, executive director of the Eden Project, said: “Through our work with communities UK wide we see the difference that people working together can have. Neighbourly support can make a huge difference in a world fraught with challenge. The current threat is set to impact all of us in one form or another, and stronger local connections within communities are vital to see this crisis out. That’s why we’ve joined forces with our friends and partners to call on people everywhere to take positive action to support and care for each other in the coming weeks and months.”
Dawn Austwick, chief executive of The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “As the largest funder of community activity in the UK, we know community life and connections can help to build bonds of support during difficult times. Being kind, offering support and thinking of one another makes neighbourhoods and communities stronger together. This is particularly important for those who are more vulnerable and isolated. At The National Lottery Community Fund we support communities to thrive, this is why we’re pledging our support for this call to action in the coming weeks and months.”
Anna Fowlie, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), said: “We are urging our members and the wider voluntary sector in Scotland to take care of the health of their staff, volunteers and beneficiaries. We encourage organisations to follow official advice. The official guidance will change over time so the key is to stay up-to-date with that whilst also reviewing the specific risks that COVID-19 poses to your organisation or service. Understanding the potential risks and impacts in your own particular context is the best way to start planning to mitigate them.
“SCVO has published information on our website with details how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, how to support staff, volunteers, beneficiaries and service users, and information on how to keep services running. There are also signposts to official channels such as the NHS Inform and Scottish Government websites for the most up to date information available.”
Kiren Zubairi, policy engagement officer at Voluntary Health Scotland (VHS), said: “VHS would like to lend its support to the Eden Project’s Community Action Response. This provides communities and individuals with a set of very practical and effective actions that can allow us to play our part in ensuring we can all stay healthy. VHS especially appreciate the focus on new ways of staying connected and supporting one another as self-isolation increases. We all know the negative impact that loneliness and social isolation can have for individuals and communities. Therefore, it is really important to volunteer where appropriate or simply pick up the phone, use social media or email to stay connected and support all those within our communities and networks.”
Ian Bretman, Neighbourhood Watch chair, said: “At this stressful time it is more important than ever that we come together to support our loved ones and communities, especially the isolated and vulnerable. We all perform different roles in our daily lives but we are also all neighbours and all have the ability to be a good neighbour at this crucial time.”
Eden Project Communities is mobilising its grassroots community-based network and launching #CommunityResponse on social media to help share the actions. They also intend to further support communities in the coming days, weeks and months as needs become clear.
The Scottish Islands Federation is looking at good examples of island community resilience that we can share on this website and also on #CommunityResponse!
Catch up with news from S.I.F and the islands in our latest member bulletin – here
LISMORE STORES and POST OFFICE, on the delightful Inner Hebridean Island of Lismore, Argyll, needs a new proprietor! Offering a completely different kind of retail experience, this opportunity would be ideal for an energetic couple seeking a rural lifestyle, fully integrated into the island community. Situated near the centre of the island, the Stores is the only Shop, Post Office and off License on the Island. It acts as a Community Hub. With a wide range of stock, built up over many years of local trading, the Stores offers potential for new ideas and adjustments to suit changing conditions.
Full details here: LISMORE STORES (5)
The Scottish Government’s Local Energy Policy Statement consultation is now live and you can read more about it here.
As part of the process, a series of workshops are being held across Scotland to get the views of a wide-variety of stakeholders.
This inlcudes an Island Webinar Workshop on the 19th November from 1pm-2pm. Register here.
Other events inlcude:
19 November, 11am – 12:30pm, Inverness. Register here.
27 November, 11am – 1pm, Dumfries. Register here.
1 to 4 October, Grimsay
Population decline and in particular, young people moving away, is as an enormous challenge for many small islands but while in Tiree for our 2018 learning exchange we heard about the young returners to Uist from Thomas and Theona of CoDeL. Over our two days in Grimsay we will learn more about the experience from Uist (and further afield) and its working examples of community-led activity that is contributing to population growth and in particular, investing in and supporting young people.
With the first National Islands Plan soon to be launched we will discuss its implementation and monitoring as well as some policy areas where input is needed to ensure island proofing.
Our S.I.F AGM and EGM and a short wrap up session to agree priorities for the year ahead are planned for 5.30pm on Thursday 3rd October at Grimsay Community Centre.
The learning exchange is running in conjunction with CoDeL’s SMART Islands in Scotland & Ireland: Supporting Enterprises & Young People Project and we very much look forward to sharing island perspectives and ideas with participants from the Irish islands.
We are enormously grateful to the Community Learning Exchange, Scottish Government and LEADER for the contributions that have made the learning exchange possible and enabled members to take part.
Catch up with news from S.I.F and the islands in our latest member bulletin – download here
First ever island community consultation
What the minister says:
Commenting on the consultation progress while visiting the Slate Islands of Easdale, Seil and Luing, as part of a programme of island visits last June, Islands Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “Last year, the passage of the first ever Act of Parliament aimed specifically at islanders’ needs and the positive contributions made to Scotland by our islands, marked an historic milestone for our islands communities.
“We are steadily implementing the provisions of the Act and I am therefore delighted to see so many island residents, and others with an interest in our islands, sharing their views, hopes and aspirations for the future for our islands communities during the consultation on Scotland’s first ever National Islands Plan.
“The consultation, including events that I have been able to see during my visits this week, is ensuring we discuss challenges, learn lessons from policy successes that have been achieved across island communities, and identify factors that contribute to good policy outcomes. The evidence we are gathering will help us to better target public resources to help our islands, with the objective of enabling all who live on our islands to flourish.”
“This has been an unprecedented exercise in listening to Scotland’s islanders and it is my sincere hope that this important consultation helps us to project islanders’ voices to Scotland’s policy makers and public bodies and harness the undoubted strengths and resources of islands communities, with the objective of providing the brightest, most sustainable future for our islands communities that, in so many ways, constitute the very best of Scotland.”
Online responses echo community views
360 responses have also been submitted online, by individuals and organisations such as NFU Scotland. Here is what Lucy Sumsion, NFU’s Argyll and the Islands regional manager has to say: “ Our response set out that the main objective should be to make the islands socially and economically viable places to live and work for islanders. This include shaping an environment that allows farming and crofting to prosper, and underpin vibrant wider economy that enjoys the same levels of services as the remainder of Scotland.” Her comment certainly echoes the aspirations of many islanders.
Community Impact assessment: a key measure
One of the key measures in the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 is to require everyone who makes or designs new polices, strategies or services to consider how these will impact on islands.
Island Communities Impact Assessments will be one way in which relevant authorities can consider the impact of these polices, strategies or services on islands.
The consultation will also provide input to develop guidance on how these impact assessments will operate. “This was perhaps the most complex aspect of the consultation, but our island communities have not shied away from the challenge of providing an informed response,” reports Sandy Brunton, who led the community consultation process.
We are very proud of the way island community leaders have responded to this challenge so constructively, going out of their way to ensure good event participation,” said Camille Dressler, who chairs the the Scottish Islands Federation, one of the partner organisations in the National Island Plan consultation together with the Scottish Government and the Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance , “ I now have to give all our thanks to Ann MacDonald, our S.I.F director from Tiree, who has masterfully handled the consultation logistics. She has done us proud and helped immensely by providing a blueprint for future island consultation!
Results expected in October 2019
The National Island Team will now get to work to collate the community and online responses over August and September, and aims to present a first draft of the National Island Plan in early October 2019.
There still is time to send your own response – until midnight – by clicking here!
Catch up with news from S.I.F and the islands in our latest member bulletin – download here
National Islands Plan Consultation – launched and live: