Renewables Conference, Inverness
21 November 2001

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MAJOR RENEWABLES CONFERENCE FOCUSES ON JOBS AND INVESTMENT

The organisers of a major conference being held in Inverness later this week are keen to ensure that the area is quick to realise the potential for employment and inward investment of wind or wave-based renewable energy.  "Renewable Opportunities" is the title of the conference, which aims to examine future renewable development and to alert local industry to its potential.

The Government recently agreed to increase substantially the level of electricity generated from renewable sources over the next 10 years and the Highlands and Islands is considered to be particularly well placed to benefit from this commitment.  Jointly sponsored by The Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the event is being held on Friday (23 November) at the Inverness Thistle Hotel.

A total of 230 delegates are expected to attend.  Councillor Ian Ross, Chairman of The Highland Councils Sustainable Development Select Committee, who will be in the chair for the days discussions, said: "This is a hugely important area for the future of Highland, and it is vital that we benefit fully as this new technology develops.  We need to look critically at proposals to ensure that local communities benefit directly, wherever possible, and that, in doing so, we protect Highlands precious landscape."

Dr Jim Hunter, Chairman of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, who will be giving a keynote address at the conference, said: "Renewable energy offers tremendous opportunities for the Highlands and Islands, and is also one way that the area can make a positive contribution to the problem of global climate change."

To be opened by The Highland Council Convener, David Green, the conference boasts a range of speakers, including those from The Scottish Executive Energy Unit, Scottish Natural Heritage and Scottish and Southern Electricity, who, as well being the largest generator of hydro-electric power in the UK, are also responsible for the North's grid connections.  There will also be descriptions of a number of local practical schemes that have already been established in the area. HIE and The Council will both also make a contribution to the conference, describing the local policy framework for future potential development and what work has already been done to prepare
for a future in renewable energy.

Industry representatives will also outline opportunities for wind and wave power. The conference will conclude by hearing from Mrs Vickey Leaney from the Wales-based Dulas Ltd. She has been actively involved in both Welsh and English projects that have directly involved the community.

The government expects to create a 1 billion market for renewable energy by 2010, mainly driven by an obligation placed on electricity suppliers to have 10 per cent of their power coming from renewable sources.

It is also planned to complement the conference by a detailed discussion on wood-fuel and the use of biomass as a source of energy at an early meeting of the Sustainable Development Select Committee