Island energy debate ‘will be controversial’

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THE new manager of the project set up to cut Bute’s carbon footprint has acknowledged that plans to make the island less reliant on outside sources for its electricity are likely to stir up controversy.

But Reeni Kennedy-Boyle of Towards Zero Carbon Bute (TZCB) has told The Buteman that she is looking forward to taking part in “informed, open debate” on the subject - and that as island residents try to come to terms with huge increases in their energy bills, the prospect of Bute being more self-sufficient may become more and more attractive.

Towards Zero Carbon Bute, and its parent organisation Fyne Futures - a division of local housing association Fyne Homes - has already been identified as the potential partner for a suggested wind farm in Ascog, from which, according to developer Adrian Tear, a sum of up to £40,000 a year could be contributed to the local community.

Consultants Aecom have been appointed by TZCB to look into the potential for generating renewable energy on Bute, including wind and tidal power, and should be ready to report back by March 2012.

“Energy on Bute is very expensive,” Mrs Kennedy-Boyle told The Buteman.

“Many people have adopted good practices in terms of saving energy, but in terms of relieving fuel poverty, we think it’s really all about generating our own electricity - and in the current climate I think a lot of people are soon going to start saying ‘what else is there I can do?’.

“Aecom are not looking at specific places where applications could be made - they are just asking what the potential for using wind and tidal power might be.”

Any renewable scheme run in partnership with TZCB would also include a community fund, with any money generated through government renewable energy incentives reinvested in other green schemes to be decided locally.

The prospect of an Ascog wind farm has already provoked several angry letters to The Buteman, but Mrs Kennedy-Boyle said she welcomed the prospect of an informed discussion on the subject.

“Very often the people who have suggestions also have solutions,” she said.

“It’s important to find out where there is agreement, and where there is the opportunity to take things forward.

“I think a ‘green island’ is a very marketable idea - if visitors see we are making an effort to look after what we’ve got, that’s a very positive thing.

“The immediate reality is that people are facing energy price increases of up to 18 per cent. Yes, it’s going to be a controversial issue, but informed and open debate is always welcome.”