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Newsletter 25

Climate action news from Skye and beyond
Bobby's Bus Shelter, Baltasound, Unst, Shetland. It has its own FaceBook page.
Welcome to our July newsletter
with news and actions on the climate emergency in Skye and beyond

Skye Climate Action is a collaborative network, aiming to share information and encourage all those who are taking action to reduce our carbon footprint and prepare for the changes happening to our climate.

Whether you are taking a personal stand or are joining with others, whether on issues of food, transport, plastics, building, energy or anything else, do get in touch by email  or Facebook to share what you are doing and inspire others.
This month we have five SCA events and discussions on climate positive actions you can participate in, along with information on plastics, Climate Champions and cycling, two thought-provoking opinion pieces and much more. Do keep an eye on our website, as news and events are continually being added.


Everyone is welcome to attend, give suggestions or just listen in. Contact  Anne, SCA Co-coordinator, for zoom links.
  • Thursday 8th July, 7.30 - 9 pm:  SCARRR  zoom: Break free from plastics. More info.
  • Saturday 10th July, 10 am - 3 pm : Climate Fèis information and Fairtrade stall, Armadale Castle Market. More info.
  • Tuesday 13th July, 7.30 - 9 pm:  Zoom meeting with the Skye & Raasay Investment Plan Committee. More info.
  • Saturday 17th July, 11 am to 3 pm: Repair Workshop and picnic, outdoors, Torrin. More info.
  • Tuesday 20th July, 6 - 7.30 pm :  Public meeting with SSEN and E-ON: first steps towards a sustainable energy system for Skye & Raasay. Contact Henrik Micski for the MS teams link. More info.
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Skye, Raasay and Lochalsh Climate Fèis
by Trish Rogers & Sara Taylor (co-convenors & facilitators)

Skye Climate Action's CLIMATE FÈIS is a Community Climate Festival for Skye, Raasay and Lochalsh and is for everyone in the area. During the month of August 2021, it will be a Fringe Festival to the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP26). The idea is to showcase the creative activities Skye, Raasay and Lochalsh are doing in response to the challenges of climate change and the need to reduce our carbon emissions.

The CLIMATE FÈIS is hotting up. There are only a few weeks to August and the actual festival. Visit our Fairtrade & CLIMATE FÈIS information stall on 10th July at Armadale Castle Market to find out more, or email us on 
How to make the Climate Fèis ...Yours 
  • Go to the website: 
  • If you're not sure exactly what you would like to do, tap the three horizontal lines in the top right hand corner of the Home page and select the 'Activity and Artivism'  and 'Safety Tips' pages 
  • Firm up your idea
  • Fill in the 'Create your own event' form with event description, venue, organiser/s, and give us permission to publish (to fulfil data protection regulations)
  • Your event will then go on the Fèis Calendar after we have checked it
  • You will be able to amend the details at anytime
  • The Climate Fèis logo will be available to download from the website for you to advertise your event
  • Deadline for inclusion in the calendar - Friday 16th July
  • We hope this is not too daunting. If you have any difficulties or queries please contact us.
Thank you to all those who are already participating. Here are just some of the fantastic events:
Opening and closing ceremonies - Jo Royle; Scything event - Heather Beaton & Kyle Community Trust; Climate Champions - Roz Birch & the Selkie Collective; Active Enquiry theatre - Suzanne Dance; Sustainable construction workshop - James Wilson; Hydro electric project - Sleat Community Trust; Open studio - Irene Blair; Online events - The Highland Council Climate team; Artwork - various schools; Food foraging workshops - Glenelg; Litter picking events - Jenny Chapman; and many more.
Your event doesn't need to be massive. Why not get together with your friends and others with a similar interest and submit whatever you are doing for climate action e.g. a stall with excess produce from your garden or a guided walk near your home. We need more homely events.
We are now starting to build an online CLIMATE FÈIS platform, probably using YouTube. So if you have any talks, films, Zoom discussions, short climate action videos (recorded on your smart phone) which might be suitable, contact us by email or via the website.
Following a meeting with Alistair Danter (SkyeConnect tourism body) we are preparing digital and printed Climate Fèis information leaflets directed at various tourism demographics and a poster which can be accessed on the website.
We are still looking for help with admin & technical issues such as maintaining the website, building up an online platform, publicity and helping in the office at Skye Bridge Studios 123, Kyle. Please contact us if you can offer any assistance (an occasional hour or so, or a little time each week).

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Break Free From Plastic
‘The Story of Plastic’, an uncompromising film which several of us were able to view during June, challenged our awareness about plastic pollution at all stages of the plastic life cycle. You can watch a 4-minute animation here.

Our subsequent SCARRR zoom meeting concluded that we must increase efforts to reduce single use plastic, in particular tackling the massive increase in plastic supply resulting from fossil fuels being shifted from the energy sector into plastics production. We agreed that co-ordinated actions on Skye and across a wider area - Highlands, Scotland or even joining global actions – could put more pressure on the plastic suppliers. To this end, SCA has become an associate member of the international group, ‘Break Free From Plastic’. Their website has a wealth of information and resources, so have a browse. 

During ‘Plastic-free July’ please join us for our Break Free from Plastic zoom on Thursday 8th July. We’ll hear from Thomas Prentice on approaches to managing waste plastic, Anne MacLennan will talk about impacts of plastic on the climate, and Emma and Amy from the Selkie Collective bring ideas for avoiding plastic use in our daily lives. We'll discuss actions which we can take here in Skye to raise awareness and break free from plastic, and hope to agree plans for action and to investigate joining in with other communities in some activities. Contact Anne for the zoom link.

If you are concerned about plastic, why not take the challenge of pledging to tackle specific aspects of plastic at home and work during July. You can sign up at the Plastic Free July website which has lots of online tips and resources. Let us know how you get on.


New TerraCycle waste packaging collection

TerraCycle is an international company specialised in recycling ‘difficult-to-recycle’ plastics. As SCA isn't able to become an official collector, we are working with Black Isle Renewables (official collector) and the Broadford Co-op on four TerracCycle programmes. These are:

-- The Air, Home and Laundry Care Recycling Programme (Flash, Fairy, Lenor, Ariel),
-- The Carex Programme (Carex, Imperial Leather, Bayley’s of Bond Street),
-- Lily’s Kitchen (LK pet food packaging), 
-- The RB Hygiene Home Recycling Programme (Dettol, Vanish, Finish).

You can put packaging waste from these brands in four small bins in the Broadford Co-op near the large red bin for single use plastic. Each programme has its own bin and laminated notice saying exactly what items are accepted. Black Isles Renewables will periodically pick up the collections.

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Skye and Raasay Investment Plan - your chance to influence the future

How do you wish Skye and Raasay to develop over the next 10 years – and what don't you want to see happen? The Skye and Raasay Investment Plan*** aims to achieve the outcomes of Sustainable Tourism, a Diverse and Green Economy, good Digital and Transport Infrastructure, and Strengthening Communities.

We are pleased to be meeting with the Skye and Raasay Investment Plan Committee by Zoom on Thursday 13th July, 7.30 - 9 pm. Join us to hear about the current plans and ambitions, put your questions, make suggestions, affirm the decisions made or express your cautions. Contact Anne for the zoom link.

It is vital that Scotland, including Skye and Raasay, has a Just Transition to a net zero society by 2045, and that our recovery from the pandemic is ‘Just’ and ‘Green’. Contributing to the Investment Plan is therefore an opportunity for you to influence these major adjustments to current ‘norms’ as they exist right here in our community. There have already been workshops in January and June this year to discuss the Plan, and do also comment on the priorities in the very short online survey.

***The Skye and Raasay Investment Plan is being developed under the leadership of The Highland Council, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, building towards the above-mentioned outcomes established in 2020. These outcomes considered “poverty reduction, supporting community participation and dialogue, community safety, resilience and mental health and wellbeing as motivators to address inequality for the people of the islands.”  The Investment Plan aims to “establish a collaborative approach for public sector agencies, businesses, the 3rd sector and the wider community to work together to prioritise and coordinate investment opportunities in the area.”

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SCA supporters at our pilot repair workshop in June.

A repair scheme for Skye

by Anne MacLennan 
Join us for an outdoor meeting and bring-your-own picnic at 9 Torrin Holidays on Saturday 17th July, 11am – 3pm to help us continue developing ideas for a repair scheme on Skye. We are very keen to hear your ideas and feedback on this evolving project, and we welcome everyone who would like to join this initiative. Please contact Anne with suggestions or for more information.

There is already a lot of local interest in extending the useful life of clothes, shoes, tools, appliances and anything else, by mending, fixing, or restoring. Our zoom on the circular economy with Clair Weaver of ILM on 8th June highlighted approaches and issues to consider. Two meetings with SCA supporters during June brought together people with a range of skills and lots of great ideas and enthusiasm. The discussion and practical examples of things needing mending (e.g. clothing, garden tools, radios, computers) enabled us to start working out what would be needed when the community is invited to bring along their damaged items. 

At present, our vision for developing a repair culture includes a forum for teaching techniques, with workshops for specific skills. It could be that some items are dropped off, repaired and sold on cheaply. Perhaps there could be hubs to collect materials and items for re-use or recycling. We are keen to tap into the making and mending skills of the older generation, and to encourage intergenerational collaboration.

There are still many details to be worked through including venue(s), communication strategies and the gathering of information and resources. We don’t want to adversely affect commercial repairers and so we plan to keep a list of them so that we can channel business towards them, as appropriate.

What is the connection between repairing our stuff and the climate emergency?

Repair workshops and cafes are springing up around Scotland and worldwide, to reduce the amount of our stuff going to landfill. Making things last longer helps us to value possessions more, learn new skills, share expertise and tools and reduce demand for new goods (consumerism) therefore saving money and resources. It can build community resilience as well as reducing waste. The extractive processes that underpin consumerism drive climate change and biodiversity loss, pushing us towards the planetary boundaries. Learning new ways of recognising and satisfying our needs (rather than our wants) is valuable mitigation.

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First steps towards a sustainable energy system for Skye and Raasay
by Henrik Micski
Skye Climate Action and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) have begun a conversation about community engagement and potential future community energy benefits. We invite SCA supporters to contribute to this journey at a virtual public meeting on 20th July, 6 pm.
SSEN has secured funding from Ofgem for a programme called RaaS (Resilience as a Service) to test new systems that will enable the customer (i.e. us) to have fewer interruptions and power cuts, with reduced environmental impacts. SSEN has selected Skye as one of several trial sites they are running across their network. The proposed two-year trial will provide a system to quickly restore supply to customers when there is a fault on the line, replacing back-up diesel generators with a 4 MW battery located in Drynoch. This would cover 90% of all potential demand for 4 hours. SSEN is working with E-ON, as E-ON has operated networks that are not directly connected to the grid, on a trial basis in Sweden.
Skye Climate Action is keen to investigate what community benefits could eventually arise from the proposed trial. SSEN cannot buy and install the battery as the cost and number of hours it would be in use make this a non-justifiable expenditure as far as Ofgem is concerned. The plan is therefore to put the purchase, installation and management of the battery out to tender to a third party, which can not only provide the resilience as a service, but could also use the battery for other commercial trading, such as flexibility. This could allow new generation to be installed or allow existing generators more flexibility, and could improve the financial case for any new electricity developments, including community energy. We don’t know yet whether the trial will go ahead, however we see great potential to use this trial to think about developing a Local Energy Plan for Skye and Raasay. It is a wonderful opportunity to create a platform for community groups and volunteer organisations to support our ambitions for a sustainable energy supply and our engagement in policy and investment discussions, such as the Skye and Raasay Investment Plan. It could also be the starting point for influencing any new developments in the area. One of our key points is that Community Energy should be included in the tender criteria, i.e. how the tenderer will engage with the community to get feedback and create opportunities for increased green energy generation.
Following discussions between SCA and SSEN in April and June, there will be a meeting on 20th July with SSEN and E-ON, to inform the public of the planned trial, and to ask and answer questions, marking the start of a broader engagement plan. (SSEN is already engaging with the Minginish Community Council area, as that is where the proposed battery will be). The meeting will focus on the aim of the trial - resilience to paying customers – as this has to be in place before anything else can happen. The meeting will help SSEN refine the tender process as it wants to ensure this trial creates the biggest possible impact on the community and the customers on Skye and Raasay. 
Please email Henrik Micski for the MS teams link for the public meeting on Tuesday 20th July, 6-7.30 pm.
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Climate Champions Crowdfunder is now live!
by Roz Birch and the Selkie Collective
Visit our CROWDFUNDER page to find out about our new accredited ‘Carbon Literacy’ course being launched during the Climate Féis in collaboration with Skye Climate Action.

The course is designed to give everyone an introduction to climate science; achievable and practical approaches to climate action; as well as support community groups, workplaces and schools to apply ideas for mitigating our climate change impacts. We will explore local and global contexts to climate action and sustainability through peer-learning, interactive group workshops and everyone will receive a certificate of their Carbon Literacy learning accredited through the Carbon Literacy Trust.

To book onto the course visit the Crowdfunder and purchase the ‘Booking’ Reward!

We also welcome donations and sponsorship from people who want to support the Climate Champions launch and ongoing community of climate action through Carbon Literacy learning. Your donations and sponsorship will enable us to deliver the course to the highest standard and support the Climate Champions to take climate action!

If you have any further questions or enquiries please contact The Selkie Collective Projects team 
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How the water tap will look. MSP Fiona Hyslop switching on Linlithgow's Top Up Tap.

Water Refill Tap coming to Portree

SCA supporters Harriet Forrest and Fiona Thomson of Portree & Braes Community Trust have succeeded in obtaining a Top Up Tap from Scottish Water, for installation in Somerled Square. Unfortunately, installation will not be until after the peak of the tourist season, due to the disruption caused by connecting the tap to the mains. We want to see more public water taps around the island, so people can fill their own bottles and reduce single-use plastic and litter. The huge demand for such taps has created a backlog, but communities that want one should nevertheless fill in the Scottish Water request form to get on the list. Our nearest Top Up Tap currently is at Glenfinnan! 

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Cycling the Bracadale-Portree hill road. © John Allan

Inspiration on Wheels
by Trish Rogers
Supporters missed an excellent meeting 26th June on a vital issue. So many people moan about the number of cars on the road, the dangers to children, the pollution etc., but there is an amazing and inspiring solution - active travel.

John White presented photos illustrating a breathtaking range of roles of the humble bicycle: in community, family, for carriage, economy, drama, refugees, with animals, as icons, as political statement, on film, as art and expression, as identity, for health, as a route to independence, for adventure, as affordable transport, for friendship and bonding and (possibly controversially) for all seasons and times of day. In fact, for life. It needs to represent normality in the future for here as it already does in Denmark and the Netherlands.

Andy Neison suggested it was all about the riders, not the bikes and particularly extolled the part women play. Practical issues included keeping bikes affordable, making sure they were suitable to the rider, ensuring safety. The use of cars remains the biggest challenge. There has been a massive failure in the public sector, which has to be reversed. A lot of work is needed for a cultural shift, but there are generational differences which are heading in the right direction. He echoed John’s suggestion that active transport has to be NORMALISED. People need to get out of their cars and embrace walking and cycling for all the reasons John had given.

Mark Crowe described the present situation on Skye regarding cycleways, with three projects from Kyle to Broadford (planned in two phases to be completed by 2023-2025), around Edinbane (completion 2022-2025) and the Skye Cycle Network covering the whole of the island (study completed later this year), developing towards the vision of an Active Travel infrastructure for the whole of Skye. Challenges include working in collaboration with delivery partners, finding funding when 30% has to be matched, getting permissions from multiple parties, providing a place where people feel safe to cycle, changing the dominant car culture and convincing everyone that the shift will be beneficial for all – not just cyclists.

This was the stimulating start of an ongoing conversation. Climate change demands that active travel becomes the future. The three speakers are to be congratulated for initiating the first steps on this journey for Skye.
A recording of the presentations and discussion is available from Anne.
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"Make the Wave"- XR action to highlight rising sea levels

SCA supporters Harriet and Rob Forrest sailed their boat to Extinction Rebellion Gairloch's event in XR's UK-wide "Make The Wave" action. 

More than 50 coastal communities organised imaginative and powerful events to highlight how the continued use of fossils fuels will cause sea level rise and increased flooding in many areas. The actions formed a wave of creative energy working south around the coastline, and culminating at the G7 meeting in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, on 11th June. The wave started in Findhorn with a performance piece called 'Drowning in Promises' 

Rob and Harriet's flag depicts a wave and the XR logo

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SkyeConnect, representing tourism businesses on Skye, has published a manifesto, narrated in this video "Building a sustainable future for Skye". It includes several elements that would help to make Skye a greener and more sustainable place for residents and visitors, from park and ride schemes and championing public transport to developing a broader economy with less reliance on tourism. 

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Scotland misses greenhouse gas emissions target again

Greenhouse gas emissions data from 2019, released on 15th June by the Scottish Government, shows that Scotland has not met its annual target of reducing emissions. Three years of targets have now been missed, for 2017-19. You can read Stop Climate Chaos's statement here.

The Scottish Government must demonstrate that it is actively putting in place what is needed for the radical transformation of our whole economic system to create a wellbeing economy focussed on enabling everybody to thrive in a thriving environment, in Scotland and globally. Clear and consistent leadership is essential.

Scotland’s Climate Assembly report calls for “much more and much faster” action. The full report of Scotland’s Climate Assembly was laid in the Scottish Parliament on 23rd June. It sets out 81 recommendations agreed by an overwhelming consensus of members for tackling the climate emergency in a fair and effective way.

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Modular and micro nuclear reactors
by Thomas Prentice

Nuclear power is the source of many controversies. Many people oppose its use due to accidents such as the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters. These tragic events caused many repercussions in the years that followed. One of the largest effects of these tragedies was that many countries began phasing out or scaling back the use of nuclear power. However, the rapid phase-out of nuclear power was quite detrimental overall in many countries.

For example, after these incidents Germany moved too close many of its nuclear plants, a consequence of this was instead of using nuclear power for electricity, Germany moved to coal power. This was because nuclear provides a steady base-load power to keep the  electricity grid stable, so when this was removed the most viable alternative for the baseload power were coal power plants. In the years following the nuclear plant closures, Germany's carbon emissions increased by 5% while there were thousands of more deaths due to air pollution caused by burning coal in these new power plants. Nuclear may have had a chequered past, but many think we should move past the old way of doing nuclear power, with many now suggesting that nuclear power is vital to us tackling climate change and reaching net-zero carbon emissions.

Traditional nuclear power plants produce a large amount of low-carbon electricity. However they are large, expensive, take a lot of materials to build and produce radioactive waste that must be properly managed and contained. Once they are built they produce low carbon power consistently for many years, helping to stabilize the electricity grid by providing baseload power, allowing other baseload power plants such as coal and rarely gas plants to be closed. Due to the low carbon emissions of nuclear power, many people are trying to find ways of maximising the benefits while mitigating the issues to help reduce carbon emissions of electricity and also reduce emissions in industrial sectors. This is where modular nuclear reactors come in. 

As the name suggests modular nuclear reactors are smaller than regular power plants being designed to be scalable to the application they are being used for. They're also cheaper, easier, and quicker to produce. They produce less power than regular power plants with current designs producing around 45% of the power of small nuclear power plants.   Many designs also claim to be much safer in regards to nuclear meltdowns and passive safety features while also making waste management easier, as all the fuel and waste is contained within the transportable reactor, sometimes for the whole lifetime of the reactor.

Rolls-Royce, backed by the UK government, along with many other groups and companies have been working on bringing these modular nuclear reactors to life. So far they have designed modules that could power a million homes and last for sixty years. Some modular reactors could be small enough to transport by lorry to where they are needed, providing a way to decarbonise industrial sites through electricity and heat generation; they could also be deployed in areas affected by natural disasters to provide easily scalable backup power for communities.

It's clear that nuclear power has its problems but these new developments in modular technology could help to power a low carbon future if they manage to avoid the issues and setbacks faced by traditional nuclear power plants. If you wish to learn more about modular and micro nuclear reactors there are fantastic videos covering the topic here and here. A future article will look at covering issues of nuclear waste and production of armaments in regards to nuclear power plants, both standard and modular.

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Outrage + Optimism
by Anne MacLennan
Global Optimism was founded by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, having left the UNFCCC after securing the COP21 Paris agreement. We need to halve global emissions this decade and to reach net zero by 2050. Acknowledged as the greatest challenge in human history, it is also the greatest opportunity, hence the ‘stubborn optimism’ which drives their work.
The weekly podcast series, ‘Outrage and optimism’ seeks to change the climate change narrative from one of doom to one of opportunity: building a better future by tackling climate change. Outrage leads to action. Despair does not.
I was excited to join a live webinar in the series last week to listen to the internationally-respected Johan Rockström and Tim Jackson talking on Breaking Boundaries, Post Growth & The Future We Choose
Johan led the development of the ‘Planetary Boundaries Framework’ in 2009. His book, Breaking Boundaries came out this year with a forward by Greta Thunberg, as did a documentary of the same name, narrated by David Attenborough and available on Netflix. Tim is an ecological economist and playwright. Also published this year, is his book, Post Growth: Life after Capitalism.
It was a sobering and stimulating event. Johan talked of the overuse of everything that stabilises the earth, and the need to move from extraction to regeneration. Alarmingly, he said that the Amazon has already tipped from being a sink, to a source of emissions. Tim spoke of the addiction to increasing GDP destroying our planet. We can’t have infinite expansion on a finite planet. He noted that capitalism has embedded inequity.
Despite these outrages, both speakers were optimistic that there is time, and the solutions are available. “The necessary change is within our power if we act now.” Sustainability has more successful outcomes, both economic prosperity and equity. There is a better way of being human.
I do recommend listening in to the podcast. Watch the documentary if you have Netflix. I will be able to lend a copy of the books in due course.

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Graphic of the month

How badly top companies are dealing with the plastic waste that they generate
Source: Missing the Mark, by Break Free from Plastic.  

The graphic shows the percentage of each company's plastic 'solutions' projects that are in fact false solutions to the problem of plastic waste. False solutions comprise:
1) Technologies that are technically feasible or work on a small scale, but have yet to be proven at scale. Often unknown environmental impacts.

2) Paying another entity to collect a certain amount of waste from the environment and dispose or recycle it. The disposal method is often burning.

3) The company conveys misleading or problematic messages, such as 'beach clean ups are a solution’, 'bad individual behaviour is responsible for plastic pollution'.

4) Announced, then nothing. There is a press release, but no action follows or the project quickly fails.

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