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Caithness News Bulletins January 2006

January 2006 November 2005

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A five-year plan to "green" the energy use of The Highland Council has set challenging targets for all staff and an ambitious programme of energy saving measures in the Councilís top 100 energy-consuming buildings.

Before 2010, the Council wants to: -

  • Reduce energy use by 15%;
  • Avoid £3.8 million in energy costs;
  • Reduce carbon emissions from Council buildings by a minimum of 15%; and
  • Increase the installed capacity of renewable energy equipment by a minimum of 4,000 kilowatts.

To achieve this it intends that:-

  • £5.84 million be spent on a range of energy saving improvements in the Councilís least energy efficient properties, which will reap benefits for many years to come;
  • An innovation fund be established to deliver quick wins that can be identified by staff;
  • Through training, incentives and publicity, staff and building users should be encouraged to take responsibility for saving energy.

The Council is also seeking to increase the Councilís use of renewable energy in the design of new buildings and in replacing existing energy systems where appropriate.

The strategy was considered by the Sustainable Development Select Committee at its meeting in Inverness today Wednesday (11 January).

In devising the action plan, the Council recognises the urgent need to limit pressure on Council budgets from the ongoing escalation in energy costs together with the need to mitigate climate change, reduce dependency on imported electricity and fuel and support the renewable energy supply chain.

Between 2003-2004 and 2004-2005, the Councilís energy bill rose by 20% to £5.2 million and the expectation is that it will increase by a further £1.835 million in the current financial year and a further £1.858 million in 2006-2007.

The Council believes that monies invested in the most straight forward energy efficient improvement measures in Council buildings could be repaid by savings within two-five years, and that behavioural change amongst staff could achieve a reduction in energy used of between 5-10% per year.

This is part of a bigger plan to green the Councilís activities and later this year the Council will turn its attention to greening its use of transport and resources.

Councillor Ian Ross, Chairman of the Sustainable Development Committee, said: "This Plan is a very significant development and demonstrates The Highland Councilís commitment to managing its energy use in a more sustainable manner and is a key part of our "Greening the Council" policy.

"There will be an ongoing investment in improved energy efficiency, conservation and fuel choice, which will result in major paybacks in terms of energy costs and carbon emissions. The people who use and work in our buildings also have a very important role to play and there is a need to raise awareness and encourage their full and positive engagement in applying good energy conservation practices and help reduce unnecessary energy use - I am confident our employees will respond very positively to this."

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