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Highland Council chosen as pathfinder in Green Growth programme

By Tom Ramage

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Highland Council has been officially named as one of the pathfinder organisations in the Scottish Government’s recently announced Green Growth Accelerator programme.

The first projects to benefit from the programme, which is driving investment in low carbon infrastructure, were announced on Friday by Just Transition Minister Richard Lochhead.

Highland is one of five local authority pathfinders, with projects which range from the development of hydrogen hubs to the restoration of peatland and energy efficiency upgrades of buildings.

Highland Council’s project looks at Climate Action Coastlines - research and implementation of natural coastal adaptation solutions, including tree planting, peatland restoration, sand dune strengthening, saltmarsh restoration, and floodplain development.

Cllr Trish Robertson: delighted to be chosen among the five authorities
Cllr Trish Robertson: delighted to be chosen among the five authorities

The Scottish Government will provide up to £1 million to support the pathfinders through the development phase of the programme, which together could unlock £40 million of local government investment in green infrastructure, backed by long term Scottish Government funding commitments.

Future funding commitments will be based on the achievement of project outcomes including carbon emissions reductions and green economy opportunities. The Green Growth Accelerator programme, developed with the support of the Scottish Futures Trust, was launched to provide a catalyst for public and private investment in low carbon infrastructure projects across Scotland.

The Scottish Government will work with COSLA and local authorities to learn from the pathfinders ahead of a further rollout of the programme in 2022/23, with an ultimate aim of unlocking £200 million of low carbon capital investment, underpinned by government funding.

Chair of Highland Council’s Climate Change Working Group and the Economy and Infrastructure Committee, Cllr Trish Robertson, said: “Highland Council is fully committed to the fight against climate change and the local authority wholeheartedly supports the Just Transition to a net zero society.

“We are delighted to have been chosen as one of the five pathfinder organisations which is testament to the work the Council has already been doing to reduce emissions.”

Highland Council recently announced its new strategy, Future Highlands – Health and Prosperity Strategic Partnership Plan. It is an ambitious collaborative approach to progressing five Strategic Partnership Priorities (SPPs), one of which is the creation of a Green Energy Hub in Highland.

Cllr Robertson added: “Highland is the largest council area in the UK and offers potentially limitless green energy resources. The transition to a carbon neutral economy represents a very significant economic, social and industrial opportunity for the Highlands.

“Furthermore, a sustainable and successful energy sector will also underpin wider regional economic growth in the Highlands.”

Works is already underway on:

Development of a Green Energy Hub at the Longman, Inverness

Green port - Opportunity Cromarty Firth

New built infrastructure - schools, housing, hospitals, HMP Inverness prison and strategic ports

Greening the fleet - Shared hub and bespoke place-based fleet depot; public and private sector collaborative

Highland Renewable Investment Fund

The Green Hub and the importance of hydrogen will be some of the topics covered at the Council’s on-line Highland Climate Change Conference taking place on Thursday 21 and Friday 22 October.

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