South Scotland MSP Claudia Beamish has used her maiden speech in Parliament to call on the Scottish Government to empower communities across the region to become involved in a renewables revolution.
In a speech focused on fairness Ms Beamish spoke about opportunities for young people, the importance of community involvement and tackling fuel poverty.
Speaking following her maiden speech, Ms Beamish said: “The shift to more renewable energy offers huge opportunities to the people of Scotland. With the right support from Government, the future for young people could be in new green industries.
“Far too often, large scale developments have progressed with minimal involvement from local people and developments such as the Clyde Wind Farm extension have faced stiff opposition.
“We need leadership from the Scottish Government to ensure that communities are empowered in decision making so that renewable energy works for them. Across the South of Scotland there are communities, individuals and businesses leading the way and grasping the opportunities renewable energy can bring.
“At Cream O’ Galloway in Castle Douglas they are building a modern dairy unit which will process slurry to produce electricity and hot water at the same time as improving animal welfare and continuing to produce amazing ice cream.
“We need to learn from the example that this sorts of initiatives offer to ensure that small scale and community developments contribute to reducing emissions while delivering cheaper energy, particularly for those on low incomes.”
Ms Beamish, who is also a member of the Scottish Co-operative group of MSPs, added: “I intend to promote this inclusive model both as a structure for communities to take the power into their own control, off and on grid and as a model for the manufacture of renewable energy technology, small and large scale across the South, bringing jobs to our communities.
Ms Beamish also highlighted concerns about fuel poverty in view of the Scottish Government cutting this budget by a third and asked the Minister to reconsider this budget. She praised an Energy Agency initiative in Hadyard Hill, Ayrshire, where there is a universal area-based energy efficiency scheme.