A team of pupils from Charleston Academy in Inverness have been hailed as the Highlands and Islands' top young renewable energy experts, after the Scottish Parliament played host to the thrilling conclusion to this year's Big Green Challenge debating competition.
The grand final of the competition, which is organised by HIE, saw teams from Sandwick Junior High School, Tain Royal Academy, Keith Grammar School, Charleston Academy, The Nicolson Institute, Gairloch High School, Hermitage Academy and Castlebay Community School going head-to-head.
Pupils Emma Foster, Freja Lundberg and Freya Boa successfully fought off the competition to take the title. They have been supported all the way by their teachers, Kay Storey and Catriona Ferguson.
The winners are set to visit the Navarre region of Spain where they will see examples of international best practice in securing economic and community benefits from wind and solar energy developments. The runners-up, the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway, have won a trip to the Eden Project in Cornwall, whose domes make up the world's largest greenhouse.
Kay Storey of Charleston Academy, said, "We are absolutely delighted to have taken part in this fantastic event, and to have won is just the icing on the cake. The team has done us proud, and their hard work has certainly paid off. They have thoroughly enjoyed the whole process - from researching the topics and debating at the regional heats and then to get through to the finals here at Holyrood has been a great experience for us all."
William Roe, chair of HIE and chair of the judging panel at the Big Green Challenge finals, said: "Today's event has been excellent. I have been completely bowled over by the enthusiasm and passion the students have shown. It is easy to forget when you are watching them debating here at the Parliament that they are only in second year of High School - they could certainly hold their own in some of the real life debates here at Holyrood.
"This event is all about debate and encouraging our young people to consider the opportunities and challenges that renewable energy presents us. In the Highlands and Islands we are taking forward some world-leading developments in renewable energy, particularly in offshore wind and wave and tidal. Given how important this industry is for our economic and community prosperity, HIE believes it is critical that our young people are informed about energy and aware of both sides of the debate."
The pupils from the Nicolson Institute, Paul Anderson, Ruaraidh Mackay and Kirsty MacKinnon-Leese were coached by teacher, Liz Sutherland. She said: "The team have had a great day at the Parliament, and we are extremely proud of our debating team. They did exceptionally well to get to the grand final, beating off competition from six strong teams. We are delighted with our prize, and are really looking forward to our trip to the Eden Project."