SBC sets out plans for low carbon strategy

WITH statistics showing that the number of fuel poor households in the Borders is higher than the national average, Scottish Borders Council has agreed to consult on a draft Low Carbon Strategy which aims to form the first steps in the transition to a low carbon economy for the Borders.

The draft strategy sets out a series of objectives and actions which aim to help achieve the vision of being ‘a resilient, low carbon economy offering a thriving and forward thinking region to its residents and businesses.’

It comes after the council’s Executive Committee agreed plans in February 2012 to prepare a strategy that will set out how SBC will respond locally to the Scottish Government’s clear view on the importance of developing a low carbon economy as part of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009.

The strategy also operates in conjunction with the Council’s corporate Carbon Management Plan which aims to reduce carbon emissions from Council buildings and services by 29% by 2020.

SBC’s Executive Member for Economic Development, Stuart Bell explained: “The Scottish Government has a clear set of expectations for the development of a low carbon economy for Scotland and the economic benefits of developing a low carbon approach are considerable.

“It is therefore vital that there is a clear strategy for the Borders that the council will lead on, to ensure the region is fully supported during the transition to a low carbon economy.”

“If we are to have an effective strategy underpinned with real changes in behaviour by our businesses and residents; a strategy that secures the full economic potential which a low carbon economy offers - then it is essential that every organisation who believes they can contribute to this work takes the time to comment during the consultation period. We are particularly keen to understand more about existing projects and how this strategy can be supportive of them in the future.”

SBC’s Executive Member for Social Work, Councillor Frances Renton said: “I am pleased that tackling fuel poverty is an integral part of this draft Low Carbon Economic Strategy. Fuel poverty is a major issue in the Borders. Figures show that up to 31% of households in the Borders are fuel poor - the average for Scotland is 25%.

“The three main drivers of fuel poverty are fuel costs, income and energy inefficiency. Fuel poor households are more likely to be poorly insulated and energy inefficient.

“It is on this basis, that interventions aim to alleviate fuel poverty through the installation of energy saving measures such as insulation, new heating systems and energy management advice.”

A 12-week consultation on the strategy began last week and will continue until April 26, during this time, the strategy will be presented to key stakeholders and community representatives.

A final draft of the strategy will be presented to Council for approval in June 2013. The full strategy can be viewed at www.scotborders.gov.uk/consultations.