Turbine Talk – ‘Local authorities have a transformative opportunity to lead on decarbonisation’

A recent report exploring the potential for public ownership of clean energy in North East Scotland highlighted Orkney Community Wind Farms as an exemplar case study of how councils can meet financial challenges while tackling the climate emergency.

The research, carried out by Transition Economics and Platform, was developed to showcase the opportunities that public ownership of energy generation could create for local authorities.

The case study mirrors our own viewpoints, emphasising the benefits that a council-owned development could bring to our communities – namely an annual income for the council, direct financial benefit to communities, helping to meet net zero aspirations and economic potential from the new interconnector.

It also discusses the reality that common resources in Scotland, such as wind and sun, are exploited for profits which largely go to private companies, both across the UK and Europe.

One of the Council’s motives in developing Orkney Community Wind Farms is that all profits will stay in Orkney. The likelihood of private companies developing on or near the three sites (Quanterness, Hoy and Faray) was high – and it would have meant that Orkney residents would still be impacted by the wind farms but with far less benefit.

The research also reveals that public ownership of electricity generation is commonplace across Europe which has shown that it improves democratic accountability and provides a direct benefit to communities at a local level, both of which are vital for Orkney.

Kristopher Leask, Kirkwall West and Orphir Councillor, contributed to the publication. He said: “For too long, communities across Scotland have seen the private sector exploit our world-leading renewable energy resources.

“Local authorities have a transformative opportunity to lead on decarbonisation and reclaim infrastructure for the common good. I’m delighted that groups in the North of Scotland are campaigning for this future and hope that other local authorities follow Orkney to restructure the energy relations which are so central to our lives.”

The article, Public Energy Potential, can be viewed by clicking the link. There you will be able to download a full briefing of the research as well as the Orkney case study.