Back when the sky was still blue and the N76 partners were getting ready for a busy summer of activities, the N76 group and guests visited the “Wheels of Fleet” community cycling project in Gatehouse of Fleet. Huge thanks to Thornhill & District Community Transport for getting us there safely.
We were greeted by our host, Danny, and an impressive display of bikes. All bicycles available at Wheels of Fleet are second-hand, donated, and refurbished by their team of expert volunteers. Danny led us through the history of Wheels of Fleet, starting with his own idea to encourage cycling in a cycle-depleted community and leading to the formation of a local identity centred around cycling and community cohesion. After the presentation, the group explored the extensive warren of workshops and bikes, stopping to admire the herb garden along the way.
Wheels of Fleet projects include second-hand sales and hire, e-bikes, led rides and repairs, as well as the all-important bike wash station. During our tour, volunteers were busy fixing bikes and happy cyclists came in and out, pausing to say hello to Danny. Wheels of Fleet is run with affordability and inclusivity in mind, making it a welcoming community hub.
Alongside these projects, the weekly “bike bus” helps Gatehouse residents with the school run, getting children to school without cars and making the journey fun. Danny happily described the chatter and excited atmosphere that follows the bike bus as he and volunteers escort the young cyclists to school.
With appetites worked up for cycling and for lunch, the group crossed the road to Galloway Lodge to enjoy some great food and continue the conversation with Danny. Thanks to Galloway Lodge for fitting us all in!
As part of the N76 project, we are running learning and networking events throughout the year. Over the next few months, other in-person and online events will be announced based on specific aspects of low-carbon transport that interest the N76 partners. To keep up with the N76 project and sign up to our events, follow us on Facebook.
There will be opportunities to interact throughout including asking questions to the specially selected panels.
We are delighted to announce that Bobby Macaulay will deliver the Sandy Macaulay Lecture incorporating his father’s passion and pioneering work in community energy into his own expertise on community development.
Jill Keegan, Partnership Manager at Scottish Community Alliance, and conference collaborator, will demonstrate how SCA’s Community Learning Exchange programme supports the value of in person visits and how CES members can benefit. Jill will be on hand during the course of the day at the stall provided by Scottish Communities Alliance. This will be a perfect opportunity to discuss face to face with Jill how best your organisation can take advantage of CLE’s funding for peer learning visits.
Pauline Smith, CEO of Development Trusts Association Scotland will also join us along with her colleague, Morven Lyon, Community Shares Programme Manager, and they will be addressing the role and importance of community-led action in the just transition to decarbonisation.
Tom Lusink and Scott Watson, from Raasay Development Trust and Cumbrae Community Development Company respectively, will present work achieved so far as part of the Carbon Neutral Islands project. The project is led by the island communities to determine their own pathway and each island has now produced a Community Climate Action Plan based on the ideas and priorities identified by the people living there. The next phase of the project will involve taking these plans forward into real tangible actions that will help decarbonise local economies, increase resilience to climate change, and provide wider social and economic benefits. Ultimately replication across the wider country will support other organisations’ sustainable development plans.
Kristopher Leask, our Policy Manager, will introduce himself and this new role in our organisation. Kris will present the policy and advocacy work he has been focusing on to date and the plans for our membership to steer our future policy work. Dr Josh Doble, Policy Manager from Community Land Scotland, who has a key interest in the opportunities for progressive land reform within Scotland, will be co-delivering this presentation with Kristopher.
Lunch is provided onsite when there will be more time to network and discuss your community’s plans and aspirations.
Mid-afternoon, we welcome further inspiration from Felix Wight, previously Head of Development at CES and now Technical Director at Repowering London. Felix will share his own experience of developing local electricity supply models, exploring the benefits they can provide, and the current prospects for changes to legislation to make it easier for all communities to make the most of their power.
During the afternoon, we will facilitate focused discussion groups, covering critical topics, including those suggested by our members, and designed to share knowledge and develop ideas between peers. Key points will be identified and shared with everyone at the conference with an additional opportunity to raise questions to a panel of experts before we wrap up for the day.
Want to know more about how your community can act on renewable energy?
The Scottish Government’s Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) provides funding and support for communities to engage, participate and benefit from the energy transition to net zero. This year’s CARES conference, which takes place on Tuesday 19 September in Glasgow, is taking a closer look at how communities can take action – from decarbonising community buildings, community investing in windfarms and hearing big ideas from leaders in the sector.
The Carbon Neutral Islands (CNI) project aims to support six island communities towards achieving net zero by 2040, acting as Lighthouse Communities in Scotland’s decarbonisation journey. The project is led by the island communities to determine their own pathway and each island has now produced a Climate Action Plan based on the ideas and priorities identified by the people living there. The next phase of the project will involve taking these plans forward into real tangible actions that will help decarbonise local economies, increase resilience to climate change, and provide wider social and economic benefits.
The six islands have produced CNI Community Climate Action Plans:
In May 2022, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands announced that six Scottish islands would be supported by the Carbon Neutral Islands project: Barra & Vatersay, Cumbrae, Hoy & Walls, Islay, Raasay, and Yell, representing one island from each of the local authority areas with responsibility for inhabited islands in Scotland.
The CNI Project is a Scottish Government commitment that aims to demonstrate the climate-resilience and low carbon potential of islands by 2040. The CNI project will help to deliver key commitments in the National Islands Plan and the National Performance Framework, create island-based jobs, and support islands to adapt to the impacts of climate change. The project aims to align with wider net-zero and decarbonisation efforts and will contribute to the Scottish Government’s statutory target to reach net zero by 2045.
Drivers underpinning the Carbon Neutral Islands Project
The CNI project is underpinned by the following key drivers: alignment, justice and inclusion, and replicability.
Alignment: The project aims to align with existing island-based climate change actions and to avoid duplication of efforts.
Justice and inclusion: The project will support islands to become carbon neutral in a just and fair way.
Replicability: The work is being completed to standardised and agreed methodologies wherever possible to allow replication and direct comparison.
The project is led by community development officers (CDOs) on each island, employed by the local anchor organisation and working with a steering group of community representatives. Local knowledge and trusted relationships are key to effective community engagement, ensuring the project is driven by, and reflects, the concerns of the island communities.
The Scottish Blue Carbon Forum are also working to include blue (marine) carbon in the UK Greenhouse Gas Inventory. A ‘Habitat Suitability Study’ is in development within the CNI project framework to estimate blue carbon potential for the islands.
The Greenhouse Gas Protocol is built around the following core principles:
In alignment with these principles, and to ensure effective benchmarking, the audits are intended to be island-led and replicable by local communities. By using local expertise, the data used is both robust and specific to the islands. Where possible, existing audits and supporting data have been used, and data has been provided by island residents or verified by local experts.
Community Climate Action Plans
The next stage of the CNI project will refine the communities’ actions into detailed proposals. The actions will be evaluated in terms of their cost, feasibility, carbon impact, and wider benefits to the community. This will lead to the development of detailed community investment strategies.
It is essential the actions are led by and developed for the community. This requires the communities to lead on immediate actions by taking advantage of ‘quick wins’ and working on longer-term plans. Most actions require collaboration, so building partnerships in both the public and private sectors is critical. This will allow the communities to make tangible progress towards their own visions of a decarbonised future.
Going forward, the CNI Project aims to benefit other Scottish Islands by sharing learnings from the six ‘lighthouse’ islands. A Climate Action Handbook for island communities will present the resources developed through the project, and knowledge sharing events will showcase good practices and lessons learned from the project.
Community Energy Fortnight – the opportunity to make your organisation’s activities visible within the local community and demonstrate to the rest of our sector, including influential stakeholders, what community energy and decarbonisation is about and the wide community benefits it creates.
The Community Energy Fortnight programme is a perfect spotlight to showcase our sector’s achievements, and even its challenges, to a wider audience.
Knowledge and skills sharing is a key focus for this year’s programme – share your own experiences and post links online to useful material you have produced or received. Or host your own skill sharing event! We will also be sharing information on social media so keep an eye on our daily posts.
You may have a video that could benefit others, or create one for the programme. If you organise a community event, tell everyone online about it too! Photos are always a winner and an easy win if you’re looking for a quick item to post online.
This Scottish Government document explicitly states a goal of “maximising community benefits from, and ownership of, energy projects”.
While this is a welcome commitment, in our response to this important consultation, we have stressed the need and have detailed ways to address some of the Scottish Government’s strategic goals and plans relating to community energy and other community decarbonisation activities. Community Energy Scotland also recommends the Scottish Government considers longer term strategic goals in order to maintain a realistic perspective on its obligations and expectations, whilst fully addressing the needs of the communities it serves and tackling the climate emergency.
Critically, the need for clearer definitions to identify genuine community ownership has been highlighted. Emphasis has also been placed on the importance of enabling community groups and anchor organisations to use their skills and expertise for delivering local benefits in a fair and just way.
We have requested additional government support for communities to fulfil their plans and upscale their activities in order to thrive and to collectively contribute substantially to government climate-related targets. We are strongly urging both the Scottish and UK governments for significant policy change enabling local energy trading to create localised markets and support micro-grids and decentralisation of the energy market.
Exciting news for sustainable transport enthusiasts! Orkney’s Co Wheels Car Club has just received two brand-new electric vehicles (EVs). The new additions to the car club are two MG4s, a multiple award-winning electric car with a range of over 200 miles.
Community Energy Scotland (CES), in partnership with Co Wheels, is responsible for the yearly operation of one of the two MG4s and the other is the responsibility of Orkney-based EMEC (European Marine energy Centre).
The new car at the Kirkwall Pier replaces the previous vehicle supplied by the recently completed ReFLEX Orkney project. The project EV proved to be a popular choice for use by residents of the Northern Orkney Islands to access a car on Orkney Mainland without having to bring their own vehicles on the ferry. We are delighted to be able to continue the service and support residents with a brand new EV.
The Orkney Co Wheels Car Club includes three electric vehicles:
An MG4 at the Kirkwall pier
An MGZS at Sommerville Square, in Kirkwall
An MG4 at the ORIC building, in Stromness
The Car Club, operated by Co Wheels, a UK national social enterprise, is a membership-based service that allows members to rent vehicles for short periods of time, by the hour. Members reserve the MG4 through an easy online booking system, and then pick it up from a designated location. It’s a helpful and convenient option for people who do not want the expense and hassle of owning a personal vehicle, or for those who need access to a car for occasional use.
The Orkney Co Wheels Car Club is a positive step towards reducing our reliance on personal vehicles, encouraging the use of sustainable transport options. For the next year, CES is aiming to raise awareness of the Car Club so that it can benefit as many Orkney residents as possible and to establish a firm foundation for its future.
Smarter Choices Smarter Places awarded funding to CES to cover 50% of CES’ investment into the Car Club operation and communications. We are grateful for the opportunity this has given us to help make this local service possible.
Overall, the addition of new electric vehicles to the Orkney Co Wheels Car Club is a forward looking development for sustainable transport in the region. With convenient access to low-emission vehicles, residents and visitors alike can now travel around Orkney without relying on personal cars.
The Scottish Government has published its draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan, which sets out key ambitions for a just energy transition that benefits communities across Scotland and protects our environment and energy security. Additional sectoral Just Transition Plans for Buildings and Construction, Land Use and Agriculture and Transport are expected to be published within the first half of 2023.
The Strategy includes commitments to increasing access to affordable energy, prioritising those in or at risk of fuel poverty. It also includes a commitment to maximising community benefits from, and ownership (including shared ownership) of, energy projects, and providing regional and local opportunities to participate in a net zero energy future.
The fact that Scotland has diverse communities with differing needs is recognised, and the report states that “by 2030, regions and communities will be empowered to participate in the energy transition in a way that meets their needs including increasing the number of community owned energy projects…. By 2030 the costs and benefits of the growth in our clean electricity generation will be shared equitably across society”. How this will be achieved is not specified; it will be important that community consultation on local issues is included in the final version of the strategy.
Specific programmes for rural and island communities are also highlighted, with Community Energy Scotland’s Carbon Neutral Islands project being mentioned, as well as £30 million of loans and grants for people on lower incomes in remote and island communities to switch to zero emissions vehicles. The need for investment in electricity infrastructure against rising costs of constraints is recognised, as well as the importance that charging arrangements are reformed as “in a net zero world it is counterproductive to care more about where generation is situated than what type of generation it is”.
“It is refreshing to see a draft Scottish Government strategy with communities at its heart. The recognition that a just energy transition needs to meet the needs of different communities and geographies is also particularly welcomed. We will now engage in the consultation process to ensure that communities are not only seen as key beneficiaries of the strategy but also as key actors in its realisation. Agencies such as Heat and Energy Scotland should work in partnership with local groups to reach the most vulnerable people and mobilise communities to help to achieve the Scottish Government’s targets on every aspect of energy, from reduction in energy demand, installation of additional renewable energy capacity and behavioural change towards public and active transport.
“Additional support for communities, both in terms of finance and capacity building, will also be required if the Scottish Government is to achieve its targets on active travel and energy efficiency, and especially its 2030 target of 2GW of community and locally owned energy, having missed the 2020 target.”
The Climate Change Committee’s latest assessment of Scotland’s progress in reducing emissions concludes that the Scottish Government lacks a clear delivery plan and has not offered a clear and quantified assessment of how its policies combine to achieve its reduction targets.
The report, released on 7 December, recognises Scotland’s ‘extraordinary ambition’ to decarbonise the economy, with a welcome focus on a fair and just transition. But it notes that ‘Scotland has failed to achieve 7 out of 11 of its targets to date. The trend of failure will continue without urgent and strong action to deliver emissions reductions, starting now.’
The report calls for a number of actions across different sectors with an impact on emissions, including transport and buildings. Plans to decarbonise transport in Scotland are falling behind, with uptake of electric vehicles behind the rest of the UK and a lack of sufficient levers or comprehensive plan to deter car use and meet Scotland’s target to reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030. When it comes to buildings, although Scotland has supported local energy and heat network planning, lack of adequate policies in place mean that low-carbon heat and energy efficiency improvements are not being delivered at the required rate. The report notes that buildings targets are set at double the annual deployment rate that is considered realistic by the Climate Change Committee, even in the most ambitious scenarios.
Issues in cross-cutting areas like governance and adaptation are noted, including insufficient cooperation with the UK government, despite the dependence of Scottish decarbonisation on sectors that are reserved to a greater extent. At a local level, not enough coordination from the Scottish Government, lack of powers and necessary levers to deliver on a local level, and need for clarity around local authorities’ role is holding back meaningful progress towards national ambition and risks Net Zero policy being rolled out at different speeds in different areas.
The report also notes that both policy design and public funding for climate-related programmes suffer from ‘fragmentation and short-termism’ which prevents longer-term action delivering on Net Zero outcomes. It calls for multi-year funding to provide the certainty to create longer-term workplans.
Zoe Holliday, CEO of Community Energy Scotland, said, ‘If Scotland is to meet its ambitious emissions reductions targets, then comprehensive and decisive action needs to start now. Our members have an important role to play in mobilising their communities and reaching out to fuel poor and vulnerable people in their areas by supporting uptake of energy efficiency improvements, low-carbon heat, and active travel. But this can only happen against a backdrop of a clear delivery plan for Scotland, with associated long-term funding.’
The N76 Energy in Motion project is a partnership with six development trusts based along and around the A76 trunk road in Dumfries & Galloway and East Ayrshire. The project was started in response to development trusts’ concerns about local barriers to travel and ways to reduce these barriers by improving low carbon transport (LCT) options. The development trusts have identified transport as a shared challenge for their communities and essential for achieving local development goals.
What does this project involve?
In the first year of the project, we identified LCT challenges and potential in the local area through public consultations. These consultations were used to create six in-depth transport plans and a summary report which highlight achievable solutions and future projects for individual development trusts and the overall N76 project area.
Now in our second year, we are using the above outcomes to support the N76 partners to develop individual and joint transport projects, with the aim of tackling some of the challenges and opportunities for transport in the N76 area that were identified in year 1.
Events are a key aspect of the N76 project and have included learning visits, workshops and networking sessions which are open to other relevant organisations and the public. In year 1, these included a visit to Beattock Station Action Group to hear about their campaign for a train station, and to Ettrick & Yarrow Development Company to see their LCT projects. We also held a workshop event during which attendees helped map active travel routes within the project area and shared ideas for improving walking, cycling and wheeling options for our communities.
In year 2, local interest in the mapping workshop led to two further events in Moniaive and New Cumnock, this time with a specific focus on active travel within each individual community. We have also organised learning visits to the Wheels of Fleet cycling project in Gatehouse of Fleet and Coalfield Community Transport in Cumnock, both of which are highly successful transport initiatives.
Community transport (CT) has been an important aspect of year 2 of the project, due to the need for support identified in the year 1 transport plans and the enthusiasm of local CT providers and N76 partners to work together on their shared challenges.
Who are we working with?
The N76 partners are comprised of six development trusts on and around the A76 in Dumfries and Galloway and East Ayrshire.
Moniaive Initiative, Glencairn Parish
Nith Valley Leaf Trust, Closeburn Parish
KPT Development Trust, Keir, Penpont and Tynron Parishes
Sanquhar Enterprise Company, Sanquhar Parish
Kirkconnel and Kelloholm Development Trust, Kirkconnel Parish
The N76 project began in 2022 and is made possible thanks to the support of Paths For All’s Smarter Choices, Smarter Places (SCSP) Open Fund; Foundation Scotland’s Clyde Community Fund and Annandale and Nithsdale Community Benefit Company (ANCBC) Fund; and Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Regionwide Community Fund (RWCF).
Western Isles Energy in Motion (WIEiM) ran from July 2020 to August 2021 which aimed to raise awareness of sustainable transport opportunities for community organisations in the Western Isles (Outer Hebrides) of Scotland. Community Energy Scotland (CES) provided advice and support services for a variety of community organisations working in the Islands. The project arose following growing interest across Western Isles communities about reducing local transport costs and associated emissions and a growing awareness of support such as funding and advice for community-led sustainable transport projects. The project was funded by Paths for All, The Robertson Trust, The Pebble Trust and Western Isles Development Trust
WIEiM followed on from Uist Energy in Motion, a more localised project delivered in 2019, and focussed delivered in two main ways; firstly, gathering and sharing information about local transport, needs and capacities alongside educating community groups on sustainable transport modes, and secondly, helping community groups to secure funding and develop projects.
In order to inform these activity streams we began by conducting a Baseline Survey with community organisations on their experiences of sustainable transport. Whilst helping to gather information on individual project ideas and targets the survey revealed trends across the Outer Hebrides. Despite having a good general awareness of most sustainable transport modes, respondents had less awareness of purchase and running costs of different modes, funding opportunities and community case studies. These findings were used to inform the development of webinars and workshops and helped to target these resources to the areas of most value to community organisations across the Outer Hebrides.
WIEiM delivered a series of webinars about sustainable transport opportunities, such as e-bikes, electric vehicles and active travel pathways. These workshops took a more detailed look at various aspects or modes of sustainable transport, covering the benefits, considerations, case studies, costs and funding sources for options such as e-bikes, electric vehicles, active travel infrastructure, community transport and mobility hubs. The webinars were well attended at the time and have also served as a useful resource for subsequent inquires as they contain many useful links and pieces of information relevant for community groups.
During this period one to one support was also available for any organisation with sustainable transport interests. The nature of this support varied with organisations levels of experience and interest, sometimes being just an introductory chat and discussion of local transport needs and the various options which might work in a local area, other times groups were provided with specific technical advice or given assistance with funding applications. This service continued throughout the year and connected with groups from Barra, Uist, Harris and Lewis, helping 10 community organisations to succeed in funding applications and bringing over £250,000 of investment in sustainable transport projects to the Outer Hebrides.
Prior to WIEiM there was only 1 e-bike project operating across the Islands; following the success of the project there are now 5 community groups who have launched, or are launching, their own e-bike sharing schemes all of whom received support through WIEiM. Additionally, projects involving an e-cargo bike, community transport and EV charging have all received support from WIEiM and been launched in the last year.
WIEiM was also an important learning experience for CES in working on sustainable transport and helped build contacts with other organisations working on community sustainable transport. Communities across Scotland are increasingly interested in, and active on, local transport projects and we feel it’s important CES can evolve to support such projects. We have transferred many learnings from WIEiM into our Network 76 project in the South West of Scotland which takes a similar approach but builds around an established partnership of 6 community development trusts. Find out more about the project here. We’re excited to continue supporting communities with sustainable transport ideas and projects!