Glasgow Poverty Alliance Event focuses on Energy
The Poverty Alliance held a major conference to debate alternative approaches to fighting poverty in Scotland. Faced with unemployment, depressed economic conditions and increasing levels of debt the conference was keen to look at innovative ideas which would change the fortunes some of our disadvantaged communities.
Community Energy Scotland was represented by Iona McDonald. Iona said ‘Energy issues were not just about addressing domestic fuel poverty, but also on how communities could gain control of their local energy assets. Local community energy projects are all about putting control in the hands of local people.’
Phillip Blond, founder of ResPublica, spoke at the event. He is a leading proponent of the current ‘Big Society’ concept said that opening the market to allow local community ownership and trading was a key to local regeneration. Blond said that without local asset ownership, communities would be forever trapped by poverty. In a recent blog, Blond summed up his belief that a welfare-only approach would not work. The ResPublica Green paper ‘Re-energising Our Communities: Transforming the market through local energy production’ was released last month.
Fintry Development Trust and Applecross Community Company both presented at the event. Fintry Development Trust receives income from a 15th share in a local windfarm, which they use for a variety of local projects, with alleviation of fuel poverty being a high priority. Fintry Development Trust has just succeeded in a major Climate Challenge Fund award. Their F8 Project will move 80% of households, and all community buildings, in the village onto micro-renewable heating and electricity generation systems by 2015. Fintry believes that intensive action on upgrading buildings and micro-generation will make them a national exemplar of this approach. Applecross Community Company, in Wester Ross is working-up a plan to develop a hydro scheme to provide an enduring income for their community.
Iona McDonald concluded ‘The event showed that re-ordering how we produce and use energy was a key to both fuel poverty and economic sustainability in Scotland. Community energy had the capability to make communities less reliant on welfare and more likely to control their own economic and environmental future.’
More about the Poverty Alliance at http://www.povertyalliance.org/
ResPublica Site including info on the Green Paper ‘Re-energising our communities’