‘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)
In such challenging and difficult times all communities are working hard to get plans and actions in place to make sure they are as well prepared as possible and that everyone is looked after.
Sharing ideas and information is one way we can help each other out and we have added some links to examples of island community responses to covid-19. We will keep adding to this and if you have links, templates, action plans etc that you could share please send us an email.
Isle20: SIF is very pleased to be supporting this initiative set up by Rhoda from Tiree Tea. Many small businesses will struggle over the coming months and Isle20 is new directory of island businesses that can sell online. Its free to advertise – if you know of any producers or businesses that would like to be listed please ask them to go to www.isle20.com You can also follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust: Eigg community response to covid 19
Tiree Development Trust: community information on covid 19
Isle of Lismore: community covid 19 response updates
Isle of Cumbrae: Croc Talk community information leaflet
All Pulling Together: Galson Estate community response
What challenges are you facing on your island?
Some of the challenges that we are seeing so far on the islands are around shopping supplies, the loss of the market for shellfish, loss of tourism and real concern about the number of campervans and second-home owners travelling to the islands.
Information & Resources
Government & Health Advice
Community Guidance & Resources
Third Sector Resilience Fund: this emergency fund for charities, community groups, social enterprises and voluntary organisations is now open for applications.
Ready Scotland Advice for Community Groups.
SCVO has set up an information hub for voluntary organisations.
Scottish Community Development Centre.
OSCR has produced some useful guidance and some FAQ such as ‘what if we have to cancel our AGM’.
Volunteer Scotland has produced guidance for volunteers as well as blog with some further links.
Argyll & Bute Help for Communities is a useful guide for community groups.
Voluntary Action Orkney Resources.
Highland Council Helpline & Support.
North Ayrshire Council & CPP Community Support Hubs.
Support for Business
Scottish Government Find Business Support.
Scottish Chamber of Commerce has created a support hub which provides quick links to support and guidance. Your local chamber will have guidance on financial support – here is a good example from Lochaber.
ACAS has information about protecting your employees and workplace here.
Federation of Small Business advice and guidance for small businesses and self-employed.
GrowBiz is increasing its support for rural enterprises by offering phone or online advice sessions, and a great range of online learning and networking opportunities.
Business Gateway has produced information including checking your insurance, continuity planning and a link to advice for employers and employees.
The Scottish Tourism Alliance is providing guidance and a daily update on its website.
Association of Convenience Stores has information and posters for retailers.
Support for Scottish fishing industry.
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.
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!
Scotland’s Island Communities: Meeting the Challenges
A survey by the Scottish Islands Federation
Almost 80% of the UK’s inhabited islands are found in Scotland. There are 93 and they stretch from North Ayrshire, Argyll and Bute, Highland, to the Outer Hebrides, Orkney and Shetland. An asset to Scotland and with enormous potential the islands are often held back by a range of challenges, some in common with the rest of rural Scotland and some intrinsic to their small island situation.
We wanted to capture the current thinking from island communities themselves about the main issues affecting them and how they have responded or could respond.
The survey is the beginning of a process that will be used primarily as a foundation on which the work of S.I.F. will be based. It provides a valid resource which has been endorsed by the participants and we would like to thank the 72 groups that took part and all the networks that helped to promote it.
- Methodology & sample
A survey was circulated to all the community councils, development trusts , community companies and trusts that we could find contact details for – we aimed to reach the islands with a population of 10 or more (63 islands). A total of 72 responses were received reaching 34 of the 63 islands and giving coverage of 54%.
Figure 1. Islands & survey responses
|Local Authority||Inhabited islands||Total population||Islands with pop of 10 or more||No of survey responses|
|Argyll & Bute||23||15,105||15||25|
- The islands – population
The islands have a combined population of 103,000 and while the overall population grew by 4% between 2001 and 2011, 32% of the islands showed a population decline. The majority of these were amongst the smaller islands with populations less than 50.
A similar picture from our survey; 34% felt the population was declining and the majority of these were the smaller islands.
The real concern highlighted was the shifting demographics with population becoming increasingly skewed towards older people.
Population change and demographics:
Growing 34% Declining 34% Stable 31%
Balanced age group 28% / Ageing 72%
- The biggest challenges
Using a list of common challenges that hinder island development and sustainability people were asked to attach a level of importance to each. Here are the issues listed in % of importance.
- Employment 43%
- Broadband coverage 40%
- Transport links 39%
- Availability of affordable housing 34%
- Freight/carriage 31%
- higher cost of living 30%
- Limited voice in local national 29%
- Small population/population 28%
- access to social and elderly care 27%
- access to health care 26%
- Mobile coverage 26%
- Access to local services 24%
- transport costs 23%
- Access to primary /secondary school 18%
- Access to further education 16%
- Availability of land or crofts 15%
Many of these challenges are interconnected and it became clear that they are all considered important. This feedback is closely aligned with the draft Manifesto for Rural Scotland which, based on the collective views of a much larger representation of rural communities, includes each of these challenges as needs that must be addressed.
Each island has its own unique circumstances and theses are reflected in how the challenges were prioritised:
Figure 4. The top 5 per region in order of priority
|Argyll & Bute||Highland||Eilean Siar||Orkney||Shetland||N Ayrshire|
|Transport||Health care||Employment||Broadband||Sample too small||Sample too small|
|Housing||Elderly/Social care||Voice||Small pop|
- What could make the most difference?
Consideration was given to the opportunities that could make a difference to the sustainability of island communities:
- Digital connectivity: 39%
- Affordable housing 37%
- Transport 33%
- Community land asset ownership 28%
- Business and enterprise 25%
- health and social care 25%
- Marine development 25%
- Food and agriculture 25%
- Renewables 21%
- tourism development 20%
- heritage and culture 19%
- Energy efficiency 14%
Amongst the top issues are broadband and transport. These were also highlighted at the recent EU Committee of the Regions Conference in Shetland which S.I.F. attended.
‘One of the key issues of the seminar was connection to high-speed broadband, while transport and an ageing population were also highlighted’.
- The islands – voice and local leadership
The majority of island communities that took part in the survey have a local plan in place. Some have already made great strides in tackling barriers. 47% owned assets and were able to generate some income for local reinvestment.
Island communities themselves are best placed to understand the barriers and solutions and also have the potential to become key drivers in island sustainable development. However, many felt that the support, investment and voice needed for this to happen on a larger scale, isn’t currently there. This is a point endorsed by the Scottish Community Alliance in its report ‘Local People Leading’ which calls for a much stronger community sector.
Communities themselves are often not engaged in the decision making that affects them. Only 36% answered our question on engagement in key consultations.
|Some of the obstacles
‘Lack of income means we cannot employ labour so everything has to be done by volunteers.’
‘Funding and access to expertise to progress our priorities.’
‘Volunteer fatigue, staff support, no secure income at present’
‘Planning and other centralised decision making processes do not allow for the individual island view to be taken fully into consideration’.
‘Rural environments suffer at the expense of regional towns and cities, for example, Inverness’.
- 54% listed a lack of funding and/or the burden placed on volunteers as obstacles that hinder their effectiveness and sustainability.
- The survey highlighted that some communities sense that support, investment and decision making is becoming more centralised making it increasingly difficult to develop good jobs, housing, services, infrastructure and enterprise in the remote areas.
- The survey also suggests that communities themselves are often not engaged in the decision making that affects them – responses indicate that only 36% of the communities that took park in the survey have responded to key consultations affecting the islands.
Percentage of respondents engaged in recent consultations.
- transport review 23%
- Islands Bill 21%
- National Marine Plan 10%
These issues around community empowerment, support and engagement are echoed by communities across Scotland and are highlighted by the Scottish Community Alliance in its report ‘Local People Leading’.
This remoteness from decision-making is exacerbated by island geography and governance and is felt by small islands across Europe. The European Small Islands Federation (ESIN) is championing the case for developing new ‘island sustainability indicators’ to rectify the lack of support and investment allocated to small islands as a result of their current ‘invisibility’ at EU level.
- Working together
The survey indicated a desire for networking events, regular island newsletter, project visits and an annual island event. Topics of interest are prioritised below:
Topics of most interest for networking and information exchange
- Transport 62%
- Renewables 59%
- Affordable housing: 57%
- Tourism 49%
- Heritage and culture 40%
- Health and Social care 36%
- Marine development 36%
- Sustainable fishing 23%
Using the survey as a starting point our aim was to gather the views of island communities themselves about the main issues affecting the islands and how they could be overcome. 72 groups from across 34 individual islands took part and their feedback indicates the following:
- There is an urgent need to find ways of encouraging more young people to live on the islands as well as better ways of looking after an increasingly ageing population.
2 . A common list of challenges hinder island development and sustainability. The top four are felt to be:
3. Some of these challenges are in common with the rest of rural Scotland, some are unique to the islands and some are more keenly felt on the islands due to their unique circumstances: there is a need to understand the small island situation better and recognise that it is different.
4. Opportunities reflect the obstacles and the findings call for strategic action on all the big issues, the top three being:
5. Island communities themselves are best placed to understand the barriers and solutions and also have the potential to become key drivers in local sustainable development: there is a need for a stronger voice for island communities, more engagement in decision making and more local governance.
6. There is an appetite for communities to work together across the islands to share ideas and learn from each other.
- Next steps
S.I.F. is the only organisation in Scotland with an island-specific remit and we work to promote, publicise and advance the interests of Scotland’s islands.
Using the survey feedback as the foundation S.I.F. has identified the following objectives to take forward:
- Promoting innovative sustainable projects and inter-island collaboration.
- Building a representative voice on matters specific to the islands
- Using that voice to inform and influence policy at all levels of government.
- Connecting island communities to share experience, ideas and expertise.
We will take forward actions in our strategy to deliver these objectives in the next year.
Scottish Islands Federation
Comments from the communities that took part in the survey:
Planning and other centralised decision making processes do not allow for the individual island view to be taken fully into consideration. An island is treated in the same way as another area of mainland without appropriate autonomy and local input
We only have a doctor on the island 2 hours a week and otherwise have to go 6 miles on the next island to the surgery. Currently this has been a locum filled position for almost a year.
In the usual way, Government displays a lack of understanding of the implications of island living, with the debacle of the Calmac ferry service as a prime example. Argyll & Bute Council cuts and the resultant service reductions sees a decline in the overall infrastructure of the island. This despite the fact that 8 distilleries make an enormous contribution to the revenue which increases year-on-year.
Improved local democracy. Islands in the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland have their own councils. Islay is part of Argyll & Bute the local authority and feels very much on the edge of their decision making and governance. Islay does not have its own councillor but a part of three, currently one councillor lives on Islay but does not solely represent the island. There is a large disconnect between council officials (off the island) and local population. Transport links are paramount for Islay to operate from population, tourism and industry (farming as well as whisky). The service currently received from CalMac does not meet the island’s needs and is impacting negatively on all these areas. Without a robust ferry service and booking system tourists may decide not to visit. The calculation for the roads budget is determined by the population and takes no account of the heavy lorries required by the whisky industry or agriculture.
Due to a lack of affordable housing, many young people leave the island (or are unable to return once having completed uni etc). As a result we have a limited work force on the island and a reduced skill pool.
All of the above are extremely important to island’s future growth and sustainability
Ageing population and population decline with so many problems preventing regeneration with new jobs, housing and poor transport links mean that we are fighting a losing battle at present. the opening of the Atlantic Islands Centre is beginning to make a difference – low-level and part-time jobs. Loss of the Postbus 3 years ago means there is no public transport for the 3 mile run from each village to the ferry. Ferry service is reasonable, but not conducive to attracting families in an age when teenagers need access to activities after school in the evenings.
Many of these issues are interlinked, or there’s at least some sort of chicken/egg scenario. Especially with housing and employment, you can’t employ people if there isn’t suitable housing in the area, and if there isn’t enough housing, people will be driven away limiting job creation and business opportunities. Most of our islands do not boast a high availability of private rented sector housing. The tourist season and self-catering accommodation contribute to this issue. In terms of social housing, it is very difficult to demonstrate need for further development in small communities as those in housing need are unlikely to register on waiting lists; turnover tends to be lower.
All these issues are of the utmost for fragile, remote and rural communities. They all hinder development and sustainability to some degree. Various schemes and pilots have been run and these go someway to tackling the very real issues.
Access to child-care is an issue on this island. Fuel poverty is a big issue on the island. The “removal” of renewable energy subsidies is an issue.
There is a need for all-year employment opportunities, for pre-school childcare facilities, for a home for the historical society and for greater provision of cultural and artistic activities.
transport links are crucial for community yet this is an area where Council is making cuts.
General feeling is that we need to grow population (e.g. double or treble over next 5 to 15 years), create new housing opportunities, and jobs and general sustainability of the community. We are working on it and have made some significant positive progress.
With such low population numbers, the viability of the small isles communities is constantly being challenged. Broadband has hugely facilitated visitor access and tourism is now the main industry on the islands
Your list above is too simplistic and assumes or implies that the categories are separate. They are not. The usual problems of jobs/houses that have always beset remote rural communities have been overtaken in recent years by declining basic services, particularly health care. If we had 100 more people on the island we would all have better health care because increase in allocated resources would confer better services to all, so is it a population “problem” or a health care “problem”? We could get more people here if there were more jobs, so is it an employment “problem”? New people won’t come to work on an island with failing health care and no suitable housing, so is it back to being a housing or health care “problem”? Unfortunately, centralised budgeting leads to a demand for this kind of listing of problems, which is not helpful. We have had £25m invested in various infrastructure projects on the island in the recent 10 years or so, but if NHS Highland withdraw our primary health care and out of hours care then the population will just move away (apart from a hard core) and all that investment (not from NHS, so they don’t care) will be wasted. The national policies and procedures of many spending arms of government simply don’t work at these sorts of levels and locations – you can’t move costs to customers by taking away the district nurse and asking people to drive to A&E when those people live on an island – there is no A&E we can drive to when the ferry doesn’t run.
Access to 24/7 HEALTH CARE is top of the list of priorities to sustain population levels, economic development and recreational/leisure activities. We need affordable housing, so people who come to work here (mostly in the tourist industry) can find somewhere to live. Without this sustainable economic development is not going to happen. The state of the roads needs to be addressed; ‘Calum’s road’ in the North of the island has become a major attraction over recent years but the road that takes you there is in a deplorable state. Our roads are falling apart due to lack of maintenance of drains and bridges, remedial filling of potholes is totally inadequate. Transport costs – RET has made a difference to the tourist industry, but none whatsoever to local traffic and the cost of carriage of goods. In my opinion locals (i.e.commuters) should have access to a season pass and the cost of commercial goods on the ferry should be greatly reduced. We pay 3% extra for goods, a cost that is reflected in the retail price of food in our shop. Some of the above are presently satisfactory, but vital to retain, such as our local primary school, and access to secondary education on Skye. Broadband speeds are ‘reasonable’ at present, but should be brought and kept in line with the rest of the country. Same for mobile phone coverage.
Housing – vital to arrest population decline and falling school roll. Staffin in a National Scenic Area which restricts development and threatens sustainability of Staffin. Stable, all-year round employment is badly needed in our district to retain our population.
Rural environments suffer at the expense of regional towns and cities, for example, Inverness. It is perceived that funding is more directed at city areas, and less attention to local rural issues, including Transport, again, for example the resumption of air services to Skye.
have not ticked a least important as they are all key to our lifestyle in one way or another. There are many items listed which will have a major influence in what we can do to address our priorities. Broadband and mobile coverage is important for business, Health and social care and education and farming users as well as our emergency services communications. Living on an island transport is again critical to all aspects and freight costs are linked to this. Being an island in a predominantly mainland local authority gives challenges for balanced representation and the recent boundaries commission review did nothing to improve the position due to the guidelines being defined for the mainland majority with no recognition of the adverse impact to the rural communities.
Employment and housing for young folk is essential
It is costly to live in any of the smaller islands but even more expensive on the 2 smaller satellite islands of this particular parish. The 2 smaller islands also have the issue of access to services that are ALL situated on the largest island of the 3. As the population has seriously declined in the last 3 years through deaths or folk moving away, they have not been replaced by in-migration and the above factors make it less likely that new folk will move here.
All of the above are important priorities in most rural communities but are of higher priority in Island communities.
RET was supposed to reduce travel costs to the mainland but this did not work for residents…was an I,prove net for ‘one off’ visitors but we lost our 6 ticket reduction in price …. Reduced fares for locals taking cars on ferries would help along with a reliable ferry service. At present, middle of summer, we have a reduced service which is choc a bloc due to a ferry breakdown and no contingency service from CalMac. Emergency hospital appointments (among others) are compromised & jeapardised. This does not encourage families to move here.
There is a requirement for infrastructure to allow elderly care and child care services to be delivered in remote areas. All resources for housing are being targeted at Stornoway and surrounding areas. The more remote communities are not getting the same support.
- Recognise that by definition small island communities are different even from remote rural mainland communities, and certainly from connected mainland communities. Then, if Government is happy to support such communities, 2. devolve real budgets for basic services – primary health care, social care, primary education, roads – to Community Councils and let them design and manage provision of services within those budgets.
 Scotland’s Census 2011
 Key topics of discussion at a the EU Committee of the Regions Conference ‘Overcoming the Barriers to Economic Development, a Remote Island Perspective’
 Scottish Community Alliance is a coalition of 19 community-based networks, including S.I.F.
 ESIN aims to help small island communities remain viable through informing and influencing policy and by fostering co-operation between the islands. S.I.F. was one of its founding members in 2001.
As part of the Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy Project, Scottish Islands Federation is delighted to invite you to take part in a webinar that will explore and share working examples on ‘Empowering Islands To Achieve Their Energy And Climate Targets, Scotland & Ireland’. It is planned for Friday 19th June, 13.00-14.45 and you can register here.
The NESOI Islands Facility, part of the Clean Energy for EU Islands Initiative, aims to support and fund island energy transition projects.
Background: Over a number of years, the collaborative work of Island Authorities, Scottish Islands Federation (SIF), European Small Islands Federation (ESIN), Community Energy Scotland and others has aimed to promote to the EU, the unique role and needs of islands in delivering energy transition.
Beginning in 1993 with ISLENET, the first network of island authorities promoting sustainable energy and environmental management, the Pact of Islands and the SMILEGOV project followed resulting in the development of the Smart Islands Initiative and Declaration.
In 2017, in recognition of the particular set of energy challenges and opportunities faced by islands, the EU commission, together with 14 minsters of energy from member states, signed the “Political Declaration on Clean Energy for EU islands”.
The Clean Energy for EU Islands Initiative (CE4EUi) aims to provide the catalyst needed to enable Europe’s island communities to become leaders in the clean energy transition.
Clean Energy EU islands Secretariat 2018 to 2020
The Secretariat was set up in 2018 to deliver a capacity building and advisory service and to create a new platform for sharing resources and good practice in island energy systems. Initially running for 3 years, there is a possibility that the Secretariat may be extended until June 2021.
The Secretariat supported 26 islands to develop an Energy Transition Plan, including 6 off-grid islands of Scotland (Eigg, Rum, Canna and Muck, Foula and Fair Isle) and islands within the Orkney Renewable Energy Forum. These plans will make it easier for islands to source funding to take forward their projects through the Horizon 2020-funded Clean Energy Islands Facility.
The Secretariat has developed an Islands Transition Handbook and has delivered a series of Webinars (some coming up over March, April, May).
The Secretariat is also developed an online platform to enable all those involved in island energy transition to connect, learn from and train each other, access experts and capacity building materials and work on their transition agendas together. Islands that have signed up to the Clean Energy for EU Islands Pledge be able to access the platform.
Clean Energy EU Islands Facility 2019 to 2023
Building on the work of the Secretariat, from the end of 2019 and until 2023, with €10M from Horizon 2020, the Island Facility will offer the analytical, financial and legal expertise needed to collect additional data and develop concrete investment plans for islands energy transition.
The consortium that won the contract to administer the Facility is NESOI (New Energy Solutions Optimised for Islands). Working closely with the Secretariat, NESOI will provide concrete support to the energy transition process, both at European level and in the implementation of interventions on (at least) 60 beneficiary islands, including training, technical support, co-operation and funding opportunities:
NESOI will help to leverage financial investment and will provide both direct and indirect support for island energy transition projects. The platform where islands can access support for energy transitions plans, as well as access ideas, tools and finance to support their projects, is currently being developed.
Communities everywhere are going above and beyond to help each other out and make things as good as they can be. Early March, before all this kicked off, feels like a lifetime ago but it really is amazing to see what local groups and volunteers have managed to achieve in such a short and challenging period of time.
At Galson Estate it began with some forms to ask for volunteers and find out who needed help and has grown into a team of volunteers, a WhatsApp group for every village, collection and delivery services and even a YouTube channel with an exercise class, bedtime stories and bookbug sessions. It’s just brilliant and you can read more of the detail below from Lisa of Galson Estate Trust:
We were really fortunate as I think we managed to mobilise the community pretty promptly. Over 2 weeks ago I heard the first minister on the radio on my way into work and she mentioned “WhatsApp Trees”, so basically groups for folk who live on the same street etc. I thought it might be good to do this for the estate for every village (taking account of those who don’t have WhatsApp by recording a phone number). The idea was to account for every single household in a bid to foster a way of allowing people to help each other, so a mutual support as opposed to setting up a helpline and then having to match volunteers or becoming so swamped we could help no one properly.
So far the groups are working really well. It’s been a mammoth task, but we are just about there, and we see neighbours offering to do shopping, take in bins and even just saying “morning, how are you all today”.
We set up a private Facebook group to support those collecting numbers and to establish a volunteer group and this is also working well and helps us react and respond quickly to any gaps that might appear in services and support in the area.
We redeployed a member of staff who was keen to have tasks to become a delivery driver. The local car hire company were offering vans free of charge, so we quickly got insurance in place and decided to offer to do collections from Stornoway, from the local crofting co-operative, Lewis Crofters. The co-operative could no longer offer deliveries as they needed all staff to enable them to operate safely by running a drive thru operation, with telephone orders, so we thought to save crofters from the estate all driving to Stornoway and to support those who couldn’t do that due to self-isolating or whatever the reason might be. We now run this three days per week and have three drop off areas (large car parks at community buildings) across the estate. This is hopefully a good support ahead of lambing season.
We are delivering prescriptions from two surgeries across the estate 5 days per week. Volunteer drivers are carrying this out on a rota basis, and this too is working well as people can’t get out to collect prescriptions.
We have also set aside time for analysis and review of the various schemes of support and are proactively supporting organisations on the estate to work through what might be available to them.
We have also put volunteer support into one local shop to support it to stay open as it was essential for items, such as fuel and gas.
We are offering Gaelic and English Bookbug sessions on our newly created YouTube channel three times per week and today we launched a Gentle Movement class online and this will run every Thursday.
Our next piece of work is around the community newspaper, which can no longer keep running, so we propose to work in partnership with volunteers to deliver a free community newsletter to ensure information and news is still reaching the community. We realise that not everyone is online and we have to try our best to keep people connected to someone else.
We will continue to assess the gaps and try to do what we can to ensure the community are supported and feel secure during what is such a difficult and perplexing time.
The estate is obviously community owned and what better way to celebrate land ownership that to ensure the benefits from the asset support the community during the good times and the bad.
Limited access to emergency medical care, supply chains dependent on transport links (and the weather!) and with many older people in our communities, it can be scary living on a remote island during a global pandemic and a real challenge to plan a local, regional and national response. It is however, amazing to see how everyone, at every level is pulling together.
With this in mind, to help those islands that are further behind on ‘the curve’ than we are as well as to help us plan ahead, Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance and Island Innovation have teamed up to gather information on island responses from across the world.
You can read what has been collated so far here . The survey questions are here and if you could spare the time to add feedback from your own island that would be great. You can email your response to Francesco.
Here is another good example of the community response on the islands.
The Millport Support Group started off as a Facebook page to connect people but has grown into a collaboration with all the local agencies and groups including Cumbrae Forum, Cumbrae Community Council, the local churches and North Ayrshire Council.
The group liaises with Police, Pharmacy, and local NHS and Care Worker Teams to co-ordinate support and has a team of over 40 volunteers helping out with shopping, picking up prescriptions, dog-walking and much more.
CROC Talk has been a joint effort by the Group, Cumbrae Community Council, North Ayrshire Council and the Churches on the island. It has been really well thought out, containing such a lot of helpful information and has been delivered to every household on Cumbrae. You can have a look at it here Croc Talk.
Community Support Hubs have also been set up across North Ayrshire and regular updates produced for each area – North Ayrshire Community Planning Partnership COVID 19 Update.
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