Thomas Leask Sheap

Shetland youngster showcases how pioneering energy project benefits his Islands

Published: 15/12/2020

Thomas Leask and Keiko the cat feature in new film highlighting green energy model

Shetland’s 10 year-old Thomas Leask and Keiko the cat are set to become internet sensations in a new film highlighting why Lerwick’s district heating system means local people can have warmth, fight fuel poverty and save the planet.

Thomas tells the story of the community wide partnership, which inspired by Scandinavian district heating, developed a scheme which used unrecyclable waste to provide lower cost, green heating.

The film has been created for Shetland Heat Energy and Power (SHEAP) by local film-makers JJ Jamieson and Liz Musser, and was supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The film is to feature in a new campaign by HIE, the region’s community and economic development agency, called #GoPlaces. The campaign aims to showcase and share innovative projects and investments developed by forward thinking community partnerships across Scotland which bring social and community benefit.

Douglas Cowan, HIE’s Director of Community and Place, commented: “This wonderfully engaging film uses a young Shetlander’s obvious natural talent, to get over such clear and important messages about how we must rethink our opportunities to ‘do the right things’ for our communities, and for the Planet. What’s really impressive is that this all started before Thomas was born, and has been sustained and developed as a model that other communities could surely benefit from.”

The project, instigated by Shetland Islands Council and Shetland Charitable Trust, was ahead of its time and 20 years on is a practical working example of the community and public sector investing in a shared vision. It operates as a circular economy: heat is created from unrecyclable waste; it’s distributed to homes, businesses and community buildings at a reasonable price; and any profit goes back into helping the community.

Social and environmental purpose are at the heart of what SHEAP does.  As a subsidiary company of Shetland Charitable Trust, SHEAP’s profits are also returned to SCT, strengthening its ability to assist a wide range of charitable activities all throughout the islands.

Derek Leask, who is the executive director at SHEAP, said:  “When the SIC and Shetland Charitable Trust created the Lerwick district heating scheme 20 years ago it was a pioneering initiative. It’s still highly relevant in the fight against climate change and fuel poverty and we’re pleased how the video showcases that. We’re also very grateful to HIE for their support in producing the film.”

Find out more about SHEAP and see the film here 
Find out about our #GoPlaces campaign here


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