UK Energy Minister Rudd to co-chair next meeting of Scottish Islands Renewables Forum

EMEC seascapeBy DARA BUTTERFIELD

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has announced to Island council leaders that he has received assurances of the UK Government’s commitment to continuing the Scottish Islands Renewable Delivery Forum (SIRDF).

The SIRDF was established last summer and has been co-chaired by the Scottish and UK Governments. Its purpose is to support the joint policy aim of delivering and connecting the huge renewable energy resources on Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles to the mainland electricity grid.

Following a meeting with representatives from the Islands, Ewing said: “Amber Rudd, the new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, has agreed to continue the work of her predecessor by co-chairing the next meeting of the Scottish Islands Delivery Forum during September, and has indicated an intention to pursue the necessary support mechanism
for remote island wind.

“This assurance is a very important statement of continued intent – delivering island renewables and grid connections could have a transformational economic impact for island communities.”

When the SIRDF last met in January 2015, the UK Government at the time committed to taking forward vital actions to support the work of the group. These include:

* Publication in July 2015 of important information relating to the level and availability of support for remote island wind generators
* Securing State Aid approval for the support mechanism (Remote Island  Wind Contracts for Difference) from the European Commission, and

* Developing proposals to secure EU funding to help the Orkney marine energy sector.

Island council leaders welcomed the Scottish Government’s recognition of the difficulties facing island communities and the ongoing commitment to work with them in improving the energy efficiency of their homes.

Councillor Angus Campbell: “I too welcome the confirmation that the Forum will continue. I was also pleased that Mr Ewing put forward a proposal to undertake a piece of work to assess the loss to the islands caused by lack of interconnectors.

“This refers particularly to the financial and environmental costs of diesel generation, downtime
of community renewable infrastructure and the lost opportunities through lack of interconnector provision.”

Councillor Steven Heddle: “Fuel poverty is a priority area for the islands councils. We are very pleased at the discussions in the Working Group, where Margaret Burgess (Housing Minister) heard our concerns and learned of our record of developing innovative responses to the problem, tied in with our wider energy strategies.

“Already the Scottish Government has responded by increasing HEEPS funding in the islands by 20% per household, providing funding to achieve accredited installers and affording flexibility around delivery of heating schemes.”

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