A rural Orkney organisation which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Westray by 80% by 2050, has successfully secured the ownership of its own premises. Energy Action Westray (EAW) was awarded £6,136 by Highlands and Islands Enterprise towards buying a farmstead building at South Hammer, formerly owned by the Westray Heritage Trust (WHT).
The new Centre will offer a focus for local people and community groups providing up to date information on climate change, insulation demonstrations and renewable energy. Some of the building was reroofed recently by its previous owners, using funding from Historic Scotland and Orkney Islands Council.
Energy Action Westray, which has over 70 members locally, plans to audit all houses on the island for carbon emissions and potential energy saving measures. There are also plans to install domestic sized turbines close to the property which will provide energy and an income to cover the running costs of the building and part fund any future projects. Up to date energy advice will be provided in partnership with the Orkney Energy Agency, the Energy Saving Scotland advice centre and Community Energy Scotland.
EAW aims to ensure Westray will source the equivalent of all its energy needs from renewable sources by 2012.
Liz Howard of HIE's Community Assets team, said: "Energy Action Westray are providing a valuable service in the area and their ambitions are matched by the local community. The South Hammer building will provide a base from which EAW can provide advice and information on greenhouse gas saving measures which will not only save people money, but also benefit the area in the long run."
Sam Harcus who works for EAW two days a week said: "Ownership is a fantastic basis for what we plan to do at South Hammer. We already have funding from the Scottish Government Climate Challenge Fund to establish a community garden in the yard at the back which can now get underway, ownership now gives much more credibility in raising funds to create an Interpretation Centre and a base for EAW to assist the community in greenhouse gas reduction and sustainability issues."
HIE's community assets team provides financial assistance and technical advice for community-led land purchases or management initiatives. They work practically with landowners and community organisations to exploit opportunities which have the potential to lead to long-term benefits for the community.