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Source: Scotland – Highland Council

Members of the Council’s Recovery Board have welcomed a progress report on the workstreams and projects that are underway across Highland Council to address the climate and ecological emergency. As part of the discussions the Board looked at workstreams and actions underway to ensure the Council’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions is embedded within the wider economic recovery work.

Members of the Recovery Board have already recognised the importance of green recovery for the Highlands. In April 2020, the Scottish Government suggested that it would consider incorporating a green recovery into the new Climate Change Plan (CCP). In June 2020, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, announced that Ministers hope to publish a revised CCP in December to align with the Scottish Budget and meet climate targets to 2032.

Recovery Board Chair Cllr Christie said: “The Board members welcomed the chance to discuss the good and concise report which laid out where we are in terms of looking at challenges and opportunities to making sure we have a green recovery for the Highlands.

“There is unlikely to be a “one size fits all” solution to the economic crisis resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. To deliver a truly green recovery, Councils will require a new transformative model of governance which provides the flexibility and accountability needed to respond locally to challenges, now and in the future, around economic change as well as future health and the climate and ecological emergency.

“I believe we have a real opportunity here to move forward and become a leader across the country in delivering results. To do this this we need to have a flexible approach to respond locally to challenges now and in the future. Our immediate challenge is to look how we can embed low carbon activity within everything the council does so this is a key focus of the service redesign work currently underway.”

The report discussed today included details of what is required to have a green recovery in Highland and how the national and local legislative, policy and fiscal environment needs to:

  • Provide sufficient public investment and stimulus to realise the economic opportunities of a green recovery;
  • Develop investment programmes targeting projects which combine strong short-terms benefits (such as job creation) whilst contributing to climate action and our own 2025 carbon neutral aspirations;
  • Stimulate local business supply chains and deliver community wealth building opportunities – through strategic use of public and major private sector procurement budgets, targeting development of strategically important supply chains for a net zero economy. Highland is uniquely placed in many respects to deliver this.
  • Embed and build on the increased local powers and flexibility brought about by the emergency response to the pandemic;
  • Prioritise place-based solutions built around strong relationships with communities, backed up by investment in community capacity and wealth building;
  • Recognise the importance of our open and green space and our Highland landscapes to the physical and mental resilience of communities, the economic attractiveness of the region, and to its contribution to the wider climate change agenda.

 The Council is organising a high profile Climate Change Conference which will take place on-line on Monday 2 November.

This conference will be open for professionals and members of the public to attend and will feature talks from climate experts representing The University of Highlands and Islands, Sustrans, The Scottish Wildlife Trust, SNIFFER, Scotland’s International Development Alliance, Keep Scotland Beautiful, Zero Waste Scotland, Creative Carbon Scotland, Friends of the Earth, Extinction Rebellion and many more.

The day of online talks will culminate with a selection of workshops which attendees will be able to sign up to in advance and have their say on the climate and ecological emergency.

Details of how to register for this free-to-attend conference on Friday 30 October and the associated workshops will be announced shortly.

MIL OSI United Kingdom