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Source: Scotland – Highland Council

To mark Climate Week, The Highland Council held a series of community conversations on the future of electric vehicles (EVs) in Highland. During the on-line sessions communities were introduced to electric vehicles, informed of the Council’s current actions and future ambitions for the development of EV infrastructure in Highland and sign posted towards EV grants and loans available for purchasing electric vehicles.

Most importantly, the Council was able to welcome community views and opinions regarding the expansion of EVs in Highland, ahead of the phasing out of the need for new petrol and diesel vehicles in Scotland by 2032. The series of events highlighted some common perceived barriers to EV ownership in Highland and the actions that could be taken to remove such barriers.

Officers were encouraged in respect of the enthusiasm and passion from attendees for increased EV use in Highland from every participating community. Clearly, there is strong local support for additions to the charging network for the use of locals and visitors alike.

The Highland Council’s Electric Vehicle Coordinator Anna Myseshkova said: “The fact is that we are the last generation that can prevent irreparable damage to our planet. We must all make lifestyle changes to reduce our impact on the environment.

“Switching to electric vehicles is becoming an increasingly practical choice for Highland residents. We are rightly proud of our ability here in the Highlands to produce large quantities of renewable energy; embracing EVs will be a natural next step.

“It was fantastic to hear from many members of the public; we really appreciated the engaging discussions and insightful contributions of the whole week. Planning the net-zero transition in Highland must be jointly driven by communities, the local authority and the Scottish Government, making discussions such as this a vital part of the process.”

Climate Week culminated in a discussion entitled “Grow-Your-Own and the Climate Emergency” and was jointly hosted by the Council’s Climate Change Coordinator Joe Perry and Chair of the Highland Council Climate Change Working Group, Councillor Trish Robertson. The event began with two inspirational presentations, the first by Catrina Attwood on the activities of Incredible Edible Inverness and the second by Mairi MacPherson on Highland Seedlings.

Growing your own food is an activity that many people across Scotland have embraced since COVID-19 restrictions have given us more time in our homes and gardens. The pandemic has also made people reconsider the delivery systems that bring food from the fields to our plates, as early panic buying left some staple products in short supply.

The benefits of growing your own food, however, extend far beyond self-sufficiency. It was encouraging to hear positive stories of the mental and physical health benefits of home-grown food, as well as to see how projects such as Incredible Edible and Highland Seedlings can bring communities together. In addition to being good for people, growing your own food can be good for the environment. Home grown fruits and vegetables are often produced without harmful pesticides and fungicides and cut out the food miles often travelled by out-of-season products.

Joe Perry said: “This conversation on grow-your-own was a positive and uplifting finish to our Climate Week and was surely not the last conversation on this topic that we will host. A consultation on the Council’s draft food growing strategy, Growing Our Future, will be launched later this month.”

He added: “It was good to see the amount of active engagement in the events during Climate Change Week. Climate Week may now be finished, but we are fast approaching the Highland Climate Change Conference, which will this year be held online on 30th October. The conference brings a further opportunity to input into How to tackle Climate Change. It is the responsibility of each one of us to do our part and here we have another opportunity to learn and to contribute to the process.”

This conference will be open for professionals and members of the public to attend and will feature talks from climate experts representing The University of Highlands and Islands, Sustrans, The Scottish Wildlife Trust, SNIFFER, Scotland’s International Development Alliance, Keep Scotland Beautiful, Zero Waste Scotland, Creative Carbon Scotland, Friends of the Earth, Extinction Rebellion and many more. The day of online talks will culminate with a selection of workshops which attendees will be able to sign up to in advance and have their say on the climate and ecological emergency.

Details of how to register for this free-to-attend conference on Friday 30 October and the associated workshops will be announced in the coming weeks.

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