The Isle of Wight Council has heralded the visit of Chris Huhne MP as an important step forward for the Eco-Island agenda.
Mr Huhne, the Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change, visited the Isle of Wight today (Tuesday 2nd August) to discuss how the Eco-Island initiative is being put into practice. The local authority used the opportunity to update the minister on the progress that is being made on various renewable energy projects.
In particular, the Council briefed Mr Huhne on the proposal to create a Solent Ocean Energy Centre which would help develop the testing of tidal energy technology off the west and south coasts of the Island. During a visit to Vestas, the opportunities to link the development of offshore blades to the proposed wind farm west of the Needles was also highlighted.
Speaking after the visit, Cllr David Pugh, Leader of the Council said:
“We were delighted to update the Secretary of State on our plans to contribute to the Government’s renewable energy ambitions. It is clear that there is a huge amount of common ground between the opportunities we have here on the Island and what Mr Huhne is looking to achieve.
“We have offered the Isle of Wight as an ideal location for the Government’s agenda to be taken forward at a local level. Mr Huhne spoke in detail about how he sees local authorities playing a critical role in facilitating carbon reduction schemes and renewable energy projects – such as through the Green Deal initiative. He was also impressed about the enthusiasm from various communities around the Island in taking forward individual schemes – such as the Chale Project.
“The Isle of Wight Council – along with the Eco-Island Partnership – will be following up Mr Huhne’s visit with civil servants to ensure that the opportunities discussed during the day are taken forward to deliver real benefits to the Island and all those who live, work and visit here. We will ensure that the Isle of Wight remains at the forefront of this agenda, both locally and nationally.
“We were also heartened to hear his view that tidal energy has an important role to play in reducing carbon emissions and his acknowledgement that further testing facilities are required.”
During his visit to the new cutting-edge Vestas research and development facility at West Medina Mills near Newport, Mr Huhne also held a round-table discussion between leading figures behind Eco Island. These included Isle of Wight Council leader Cllr David Pugh who launched the Eco Island vision in 2008, David Green who is chief executive of Eco Island Partnership Community Interest Company and Island MP Andrew Turner who has promoted the Eco Island agenda in Parliament.
Mr Huhne also toured Cowes boatbuilding company South Boats, who are world leaders in the design and manufacture of wind farm service boats, and also award-winning local company AJ Wells & Sons Ltd who manufacture Charnwood woodburning stoves where he saw the important part such stoves can play in reducing carbon emissions.
Mr Huhne, whose constituency is just across the Solent in Eastleigh, praised the Eco Island initiative and said the Island was an ideal community to make it a success.
“The great thing about Eco Island is that is a way of joining up lots of separate initiatives on energy saving and on renewables and putting them together as a whole that we hope is going to add up to more than its parts.
“The Island has the great advantage of being relatively small with lots of people able to talk to each other and therefore being able to make more progress more quickly.”
Eco Island Community Interest Company chief executive David Green, said: “The Eco Island Partnership CIC is a community led initiative grown out of a desire to see the Eco Island Vision taken forward. With an extensive Community engagement programme and a mobile events centre we are taking feedback from the Island Community on what they want their Eco Island to be.
“With the world’s fossil fuels dwindling and renewable energy at a premium we are an example of a Community that is taking its destiny back into its own hands and establishing energy security for the future. We hope it will enable us to reduce fuel poverty and reduce energy costs to Island residents.”
“As a Nation we are increasing our energy consumption annually and unless we find a model for energy conservation combined with renewable generation the grid will not be able to support our current lifestyles. We must invest in smart meter and smart grid technologies to help to manage the supply and demand curves and maximize the energy we do have.”
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