A new GAME-changing climate program to be led in part by two Easter Ross towns should have community engagement and just transition at its heart, local figures say.
Their calls come after Alness and Invergordon were among the communities included in the new Climate Action Towns scheme, which will be implemented by Architecture and Design Scotland with £146,000 from the Scottish Government.
Local figures hailed the announcement and the opportunities it brings to their communities.
“It’s very uplifting to think of all the opportunities that come with it,” said Emma Roddick MSP, who grew up in Alness.
“If you give a community ownership of the issue, they will do their best to promote it, so even just naming Alness a climate city is going to give people that sense of responsibility, something for them to get involved. . It is important that they feel empowered.
“I’m biased, but I think it’s the perfect choice. When you watch Nigg, it’s just the place to lead by example on transitioning and how you do it well. We’re looking at Cromarty Firth port going from oil to wind turbines, it’s just a perfect setting to promote sustainability.
“I think we need to be very clear that there are jobs in renewable energy and in the fight against climate change, and we are already seeing it at the port where they offer apprenticeships for local children who go to Alness Academy or at the Invergordon Academy.
“It could be fantastic for their future and for the cities themselves.”
The news comes at a time of growing interest in the Cromarty Firth, as the Opportunity Cromarty Firth (OCF) consortium is involved in several green transition projects. Joanne Allday, Strategic Business Development Manager at the Port of Cromarty Firth, said: “We are really delighted.
“It fits perfectly with what we are doing with Opportunity Cromarty Firth. The port already does a lot of community engagement, but hopefully we will now have more community engagement to drive some of the decarbonization plans.
Referring to one of the criteria for choosing the initiative, which concerns the fact that cities are considered as areas of great precariousness, she added: “All that we do at the OCF is to increase the level of jobs and level of economic activity, bringing in new businesses, and the majority of that is in renewable energy. It’s about transformative change, green jobs and careers for the future, which is why we’re so excited.
An important reality in the area of youth opportunities and employability is The Place Youth Club in Alness, which has been running The Field for just over a year.
The Place coordinator Janette Douglas said: “I certainly hope we can be included and be at the table when they talk about it. Much of what we do at The Field is along these lines: trying to empower young people to be part of the community, to think outside the box, and to learn how to grow and cook their own food.
“We seek to use this land with young people for employability opportunities and for entrepreneurial opportunities, while being a community resource. It will be a great asset to the community.
Green MSP, Ariane Burgess, commented: “This is an exciting opportunity for cities to work together to create a just transition corridor. Invergordon has had a role in the oil and gas industry and is now moving into the renewable energy sector.
“We need to design communities that can adapt to change and respond to community needs while helping the surrounding natural environment to regenerate. The solutions to our climate and natural emergencies lie in well-informed and local solutions. Each city should see itself as a node in a network and build relationships with other rural communities and food producers while improving transport links.