Funding approved for carbon clever projects

The Highland Council has approved funding of over £250,000 for projects across the region that will improve transport links, reduce carbon emissions and save the Council money.

The funding comes from Highland Council’s Carbon CLEVER capital budget, which has supported a wide range of projects over the past 18 months, including the upgrading of streetlights in Highland to LEDs, improved cycling facilities, the installation of biomass boilers, and a grant fund which has allocated funding to more than ten community projects which reduce carbon emissions.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the Council’s Resources Committee, members approved funding of £100,000 to form part of a funding package to submit a bid for a proposed new railway station at Inverness Airport (Dalcross).

The station, on the Inverness to Aberdeen line, would serve Inverness Airport and the nearby Business Park, as well the new housing development at Tornagrain.

A funding bid will be submitted to the Scottish Stations Fund by Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS) in due course. It is expected that the whole project will cost between £2-2.5 million.

Members also agreed £55,000 to match HITRANS funding for installing real time bus stop displays across the area. These displays will make bus travel easier and more attractive by providing live information at the bus stop on when services are due to arrive.

Following the approval of £27,775, the Council will also be trialling the use of “Telly Talk”. This small scale pilot project will enable people visiting the service points to access Council services through a computer. Customers will also be able to video conference to Council staff in the Alness based Service Centre.

The Council is also the first Local Authority in Scotland in Scotland to accept digital evidence. Using Telly Talk, customers will be able to scan and send documents which can then be verified via the video call.

It is hoped that the use of this technology will reduce the need for customers to make repeat visits to service points, improve customer satisfaction and save people time and money through reduced travel.

Carbon CLEVER funding of up to £50,000 has also been allocated to upgrade lighting to LEDs in the communal areas of the Council’s 147 blocks of flats. It is anticipated that the investment of around £94,000 to upgrade to LED lighting will save approximately £18,000 a year and reduce annual CO2 emissions by 44 tonnes. The balance of funds will come from the Council’s Housing Revenue Account, subject to approval from the Community Services Committee.

Chair of the Council’s Resources Committee, Councillor Bill Fernie said: “The wide range of these projects show that the Council is committed to making financial and environmental savings in all areas.

“The improvements to transport infrastructure will help residents and visitors move around the region easily using low carbon, sustainable transport.

“Investing in Council buildings and trialling new technology will improve our services while helping us meet our ambitious targets of a low carbon Highland by 2025.”

He added: “We will continue to work with our partners to improve Highland’s infrastructure, while using our initiative to make our services and facilities more efficient.”

27 Nov 2015
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