A GROUP of Argyll and Bute councillors are set to stage the first meeting of a new working group to fight climate change.

Six members of the council, chaired by its leader Councillor Aileen Morton [Helensburgh Central], are meeting at the authority’s Lochgilphead headquarters on Thursday, November 7.

The climate change and environmental action group will work on a programme of activities involving communities and stakeholders which will last until August 2020.

Also on the committee are Councillors Rory Colville [South Kintyre], Bobby Good [Dunoon], Jim Findlay [Bute], Kieron Green [Oban North and Lorn] and Jim Lynch [Oban South and the Islands].

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In a report for the inaugural meeting, executive director of commercial services Douglas Hendry said: “Climate change and environmental topics can be wide ranging and varied.

“It is therefore important to harness resource of the short life working group [SLWG] and supporting officers in an efficient and directed manner by focusing activity towards issues that are deemed to be most pertinent or relevant to our council area.

“It is also necessary to consider what and in what ways the SLWG can best influence and what engagement is required with our communities and other stakeholders relating to climate change.”

The committee will be required to submit its plan of action to the council’s policy and resources committee, which is next scheduled to meet on Thursday, December 12. The general election may cause this date to change.

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The report also highlights a number of positives for Argyll and Bute which are already in place when it comes to climate change.

Mr Hendry added: “Our Council region – not just activities of the council – has also been recognised recently as having the lowest net carbon footprint of any local authority area in the UK.

“This is largely due to our low population, decarbonised electricity sources (wind farms/hydro), low numbers of heavy industry and large areas of forest and peat bogs which acts as an offset via carbon capture.

“Our region, including all of the Highlands and Islands, have some distinct and existing challenges and opportunities for our climate change journey.

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“Decarbonising transport between islands and in remote areas, decarbonising off-grid heating systems without exacerbating fuel poverty, decarbonising activity in the industrial installations across the Highlands and Islands without negatively impacting on employment and productivity, and restoring peatlands to the point where they stop being a major source of emissions are all major challenges not to be underestimated.

“On the other hand, we are ideally placed to capitalise on the country’s requirement for bio-energy and carbon sequestration with nature-based solutions such as peatland restoration and woodland creation alongside carbon capture and storage all acting as negative emissions solutions.”

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