Working Group Drives Forward Climate Change Agenda

The Highland Council has established a cross-party working group to spearhead the Council’s commitment to tackling climate change.

At its first meeting, the group agreed its remit in overseeing the production and implementation of a climate change strategy for the Highlands and elected as its chairman Councillor Drew Hendry, (SNP), Chairman of the Planning Environment and Development Committee.

The Group will make recommendations to the Council on how the Council can mitigate against climate change through reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its own estate and practices by:
• Cutting energy use and CO2 emissions from Council buildings;
• Achieving savings in energy costs;
• Increasing the use of renewable energy sources;
• Increasing the recycling of waste from Council offices;
• Producing a green travel plan for staff and members and every school; and
• Achieving Eco Schools’ status.

The Group will examine how the Council can reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Highlands through the range of services provided by the Council and in partnership with other statutory, voluntary and private sector organisations. These include:-

• Implementation of the Council’s renewable energy strategy;
• Promoting the Highlands as a centre of research and development in renewable energy;
• Increasing the amount of waste recycled;
• Meeting Landfill Allowance targets;
• Promoting higher standards of thermal and solar efficiency for new buildings;
• Supporting Community Trust Groups in owning and managing assets;
• Supporting the use of local produce, products and services;
• Supporting healthier and environmental school transport options.

In adapting its services to deal with the impact of global warming and extreme weather events, the Council has given priority in its Programme for Administration to

• Process flood prevention orders;
• Shift resources from winter maintenance to drainage and water course maintenance;
• Seek effective control and monitoring of the movement of hazardous cargoes around the Highland coastline;
• Prepare the new Highland Development Plan; Coastal Development Strategy and Aquaculture Framework Plans.

Councillor Hendry said: “Climate change is a real issue for all of us. However, we have, in the Highlands, an opportunity to create the lead for Scotland and Europe by using our natural ingenuity, inventiveness and natural resources in tackling the need to grow our economy whilst dealing with the problem of harmful emissions.”

Councillor Michael Foxley, leader of the Council’s Liberal Democrat Group, said: “This will affect us all and every community in the Highlands needs to help. As a Council, we must make our proposals simple, practical and effective – to save energy, recycle more waste and to make all new public buildings sustainable. We need to work closely with other public agencies – especially health – to achieve the maximum impact.”

Councillor Jimmy Gray, leader of the Council’s Labour Group, said: “We need to win the hearts and minds of the average person in the street.  As the biggest employer in the Highlands, we must take people with us by setting an example in tackling climate change.”



18 Dec 2007