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Energy use blueprint for a greener future

The Isles of Scilly tourism industry, concerned about any adverse affects from unsightly wind farms on the islands’ land /seascape, can draw relief from proposals published today.

Either terrestrial or marine, they are not favoured by an islands’ council-produced blueprint for a sustainable energy future.

The ‘unique environmental characteristics’ added value to the quality of life of its residents and to its reputation as a tourist destination, it says. Scilly would be negatively affected by such schemes.

But a case is made for “micro” wind devices as long as they sit unobtrusively in the islands’ landscape.

Greater focus concentrates on wave and tidal power which are said to be potentially more viable sources of renewable energy in Scilly than in most island communities.

The strategy, which envisages the planned new school being heated from the incinerator, seeks to point Scilly towards developing, in the next 10-15 years, its first renewable energy supply and lowering dependence on the mainland cable and local power station.

One of the first actions could be a move towards setting up pilot projects involving wave or tidal power installations or possibly both. The intention will be to assess their potential contribution to the local energy market as well as their impact on the marine environment. The aim is to persuade at least one of the companies involved in testing their products next year at the Wave Hub on the sea-bed off Hayle to move to these second-stage developments off Scilly.

As well as promoting use of renewable energy sources on the islands, the plan’s actions are designed to increase energy efficiency and minimise energy demand. The plan will seek to encourage energy efficiency drives (like those at this week’s two special ‘Energy Days’ in the Council Chamber) directed at existing homes and businesses.

‘The goal is to create a more sustainable community for the islands, a secure power supply and a modest but visible contribution to Britain’s target of lowering carbon emissions,” said Councillor Richard McCarthy, who co-wrote the plan with Local Authority Assistant Economic Development Officer Sean Parsons.

“If Scilly can add green credentials to its unique environmental status, then that will only help in our battle to attract new and discerning visitors.”

The strategy and action plan has been developed with the support of the Cornwall Sustainable Energy Partnership (CSEP), a consortium of 72 public, private and voluntary sector organisations. The Council’s ‘Decent Homes’ project, which involves incorporating double-glazing, roof and cavity wall insulation as well as heating improvements, is already contributing to the implementation of the action plan. The project is also designed to minimise so-called ‘fuel poverty’ on Scilly, the situation where households spend more than 10% of income on heat, light and power.

Provided sufficient people sign up at the Energy Days’ event or afterwards, there will be an opportunity next March for islanders to take advantage of an island-wide energy efficiency programme at special, one-off prices.

The event is promoting the fitting of small-scale low and zero carbon technologies, like solar heating and air and ground source heat pumps.

The strategy favours boosting Green Tourism through the AONB and others. It backs the adoption of Green Energy tariffs by the Council. It also supports more use of electric vehicles powered by renewable energy or clean fuels.

Scilly’s plan calls for one or more wave (or tidal) energy schemes to be developed by the council, in consultation with Western Power Distribution and in partnership with companies that have “a track record of product involvement and innovation in the technology of marine renewables.”


6 December 2007