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Election / Greens float idea of local community owned renewable energy company

The Greens' Shetland South candidate Alex Armitage.

SHETLAND Greens are calling for “radical measures” to eliminate fuel poverty – including a community owned renewable energy company.

The party branch proposes that the company be financed by loans from the council’s reserve fund.

The idea features in their council election manifesto, which is set to be published in a fortnight’s time.

The local government elections are taking place on 5 May and three Green candidates are so far confirmed to stand.

The proposed scheme would consist of community owned wind and tidal turbines and solar arrays providing a “cheap, secondary electricity supply to people’s homes, allowing people to escape high energy prices on all but the stillest and darkest of days, leading to significant reductions in electricity prices”.

Electric vehicle batteries could also be linked in to “smart grids” enabling people to benefit from cheaper energy on less windy days, the Greens said.

Some isolated rural households in Shetland have their own wind turbines to provide a cheap, secondary source of energy and the Greens’ proposal would look to replicate this on a community level.

Debra Nicolson, Green candidate for Shetland West, said: “The hike in energy prices is having a ruinous effect not only on household finances but also our physical and mental health.

“More and more of us are slipping into fuel poverty. It’s a vital issue that demands the urgent attention of the council: Now is the time to build a community owned and backed renewable energy infrastructure that we need to secure our future.”

Green candidate for Shetland Central Martin Randall added: “We are surrounded by rich renewable energy resources – it’s a travesty that people are falling into fuel poverty in this context.

“If elected, Shetland Greens will invest in energy security for Shetland, giving people a choice that reduces dependence on volatile international energy markets.”

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The local branch has also voiced its concern to report that oil giant Shell is reconsidering its decision to pull out of the Cambo oil field west of Shetland.

Shetland South candidate Alex Armitage said “no-one is suggesting that we turn off the oil supply overnight – of course we need oil and gas in the short term, not least to make wind turbine blades”.

“The debate about Cambo is not a debate about the current geopolitical situation – it’s about where we get our energy from in the future,” he said.

“It’s also not a debate about the issue of energy security.

“Any oil and gas extracted by Shell from Cambo would not be sold cheaply to British households in fuel poverty – it would be sold internationally on the open market to the highest bidder. Taking control of our energy production means building our own renewable energy infrastructure.”

He said the “climate science is clear – we need to take drastic action to decarbonise our entire economy”.

Nominations are now open for the 5 May council elections. More information about standing can be found here.

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