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Highland Council to invest close to £500,000 to tackle climate change with the cash set to go on delivering and funding decarbonisation

By Scott Maclennan

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Highland Council HQ in Inverness.
Highland Council HQ in Inverness.

Highland Council has released £480,000 from its recently agreed budget as part of its commitment to tackle climate change.

The investment will see the introduction of three new posts that will focus on bringing in external funding to support low carbon and cost saving projects.

Those projects will centre on decarbonising the council’s fleet of vehicles, community food growing initiatives seeking out hydrogen and low carbon heat opportunities.

The remaining money will be used to put the council on a firmer footing to explore other funding opportunities to expedite its decarbonisation efforts.

The investment is part of the council’s overarching Recovery, Improvement and Transformation Fund series of reforms in the budget.

On May 9 last year it was agreed that the local authority would declare a climate and ecological emergency and recommit to going carbon neutral by 2025.

All public bodies must work towards the Scottish Government’s 2045 target to end its contribution to climate change.

Chairwoman of the local authority’s climate change working group, Councillor Trish Robertson, said: “The transformation required now is to shape the Council’s programme, key internal policies and capital programme to ensure a best fit with the Programme for Government, specifically around the climate change agenda.

“The announcement of this new funding for climate change will help to support the Council’s ambition to secure maximum levels of external funding for climate change actions.

“It is also essential that the Council sets out how it can maximise the benefit of its land holdings to support national climate change targets, for example through afforestation and identify any funding streams or internal policy changes which could support this.”

Spokesman for the opposition on economy and infrastructure, Cllr Derek Louden, said: “The extra staff will provide support for Keith Masson's existing team for income generation, especially in relation to carbon sequestration where opportunities exit for a significant increase in tree planting to offset climate change. I hope this will be a clear focus for the additional staff."

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