Extinction Rebellion community assembly in Inverness to brainstorm on creation of a publicly-owned Highland energy company to tackle fuel poverty and CO2 emissions
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A vision of creating a publicly-owned energy company to tackle Highland fuel costs and poverty will be discussed in Inverness early next month.
Extinction Rebellion Highlands and Islands (Highland XR) is hosting the “community assembly” event on October 7 at the Spectrum Centre in Inverness.
Representatives from organisations including Highland Council, the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) and fellow campaigning groups Platform and Common Weal are expected to attend.
Community Assemblies are designed to increase participative democracy and offer a structured way for people to voice opinions, generate ideas and discuss issues, usually framed around a single question.
The gathering will be asked: “Should the Highland Council take responsibility for generating and running a renewable energy company for the benefit of the Highland people and our environment?”
Highland XR supports the concept as a means to reduce energy costs while also cutting carbon emissions.
It favours the community itself taking direct responsibility for shaping the venture.
It also points to the Highlands’ wealth of natural energy sources and says Highland communities are not benefiting from lower energy prices, energy security, more green jobs and lower CO2 emissions while international energy companies publish record-breaking profits.
The pressure group submitted a Highland Renewable Energy Company (HighREC) draft proposal to Highland Council on June 29.
Gary Jack from Extinction Rebellion said: “Extinction Rebellion Highlands & Islands has campaigned many times on the cost of energy in the Highlands, where high energy costs are felt worst, people’s incomes are low and a large proportion of the housing stock is poorly insulated.
“Last winter was particularly bad and it is likely to be the same again this year.
“A proposal was drawn up to try and resolve these issues and at the same time lower the CO2 emissions in the Highland Council region - a win-win situation.”
Simon MacLardie from Highland XR added: “Highland region generates a lot of renewable energy and has the potential to generate much more.
“Large profits from generating electricity leave the region and benefit governments and investors elsewhere, while many in the area suffer fuel poverty.
“A public sector renewable energy company could help alleviate poverty here, increase the economic potential of the Highland Region and bring in much needed funds for the council.”
The Community Assembly will run from 10.30 am to 3.30 pm on October 7, with lunch provided.
It will include presentations from a panel of experts, followed by breakout group sessions for further discussion.
Highland XR said that consensus decisions would be collated and conveyed to the council.
Those interested in attending can register at Eventbrite Community Assembly or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Others can participate online by emailing to request a Zoom link.
A copy of Highland Renewable Energy Company proposal can be found here.