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Election / Greens co-leader calls for more community control over renewable energy

Patrick Harvie helped to launch an extension to the Why Waste? eco shop in Lerwick as he arrived in Shetland to campaign in the by-election

Patrick Harvie outside Why Waste? on Friday. Photos: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

SCOTTISH Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie has called for communities to be given the power to create local energy companies to democratise the way renewable energy is generated in Scotland.

Speaking after opening the extension to the Why Waste? eco shop in the Toll Clock Shopping Centre in Lerwick on Friday, Harvie said acceptance of renewable energy schemes would rise if they were controlled locally and democratically.

“There is a huge opportunity for Shetland, and Scotland, to benefit from renewable energy, but that benefit won’t be realised if we just swap one bunch of multinationals with another bunch of multinationals,” he added.

Referring to the ongoing debate about wind farm developments in Shetland, the Green MSP said decentralised ownership of renewable energy projects was the key if communities were to benefit.

If you have wind or any other development it has to be the right place and on the right scale and there is a real concern in Shetland that those decisions about place and scale haven’t been right so far,” he said.

“And I think the kind of development that you would get on that scale will be something that most people would feel much more comfortable living with, not just because it is on a manageable scale but also because they know it is working for them rather than for a group a corporate shareholders.

“Decentralised ownership of energy can be one of the things that make the idea of having some control of your life and your community really meaningful.

“And I think Scotland is getting it wrong at the moment. Too much of the system is simple be dominated by big giant multinationals proposing sometimes developments that are just in the wrong place or at the wrong scale.”

Why Waste? owner Natasha Maltby said she was overwhelmed by the response she has received since opening the shop on a pilot basis back in November last year.

“Our extension has tripled our retail space, so I can stock a lot more eco friendly and zero waste products which haven’t been available in Shetland before, meaning there is a lot more choice available locally,” she said.

Harvie arrived in Lerwick on Friday to campaign with Green candidate Debra Nicolson for the Shetland by-election.

There are ten candidates contesting the Shetland by-election on 29 August.

They are in alphabetical order: Johan Adamson (Scottish Labour), Brydon Goodlad (Scottish Conservatives), Stuart Martin (UKIP), Debra Nicolson (Scottish Greens), Ian Scott (independent), Michael Stout (independent), Peter Tait (independent), Ryan Thomson (independent), Tom Wills (SNP) and Beatrice Wishart (Scottish Liberal Democrats).

Read more about all ten candidates at our special Shetland by-election page at: https://www.shetnews.co.uk/category/features/election-2019/