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Going Green on the Isle of Wight

PughCllr David Pugh, leader of the Isle of Wight Council, says the innovation that localism allows is helping the Green Revolution

Today, the Prime Minister will be questioned on his energy credentials and the notion of Green Government - frankly there is no better time than now.

'Going Green' is a complex challenge. We know that better than most as the Isle of Wight is on the path to becoming fully sustainable in the next decade. But if you look at the news coming out of the Doha Climate Change Conference which ended on Saturday, getting a global consensus on issues with this much gravitas is at times almost impossible.

Ed Davey himself said only "moderate steps" had been taken, but this is no surprise as it is at local level where the rapid progress is being made.

The key aspect is that everyone needs to play a part. Going Green isn't just a buzzword; it requires direct action on the ground. We are fortunate that just off the south coast we have a community that is willing to put this work in at a local level - but we believe this could be replicated nationwide.
As a direct result of the Coalition Government's efforts on localism, citizens have been empowered to help lead a green revolution. Increasingly the Isle of Wight is becoming an incubator or 'mini-version' of what the UK could try to achieve - thanks to partnerships forged between the local authority, academia, businesses and residents.

A first major project milestone has been reached in just the last few weeks, and one that will be an investment, not just for the Isle of Wight, but to the UK as a whole.

The Island was the only place in England to be recently awarded a lease by the Crown Estate to trial tidal energy turbines - allowing an exploration into a new brand of energy and also creating and safeguarding jobs. With this lease was to the Isle of Wight Council now in place, our plans to bring the private, public and academic sectors together to make our Solent Offshore Energy Centre a reality can be progressed.

We have for some time felt that the opportunities presented by the Island's tides have not been taken full account of in the UK's energy planning and have worked hard to raise the profile of these possibilities within the renewable energy sector. As I have previously written on ConHome, tidal energy is not only reliable but is a largely non-intrusive form of energy production which does not compromise our protected landscape.

The agreement with The Crown Estate represents a major advance. We can drive the project forward on two fronts - firstly providing the necessary infrastructure for pioneering tidal energy companies and then working to attract those pioneers and their investment to the Island.

This will safeguard over 600 jobs in the long-term and create inward investment in the island as well as external investment in the UK.

So when David Cameron talks about energy today, we hope he will touch on the many aspects that unleashing the energy sector can do in terms of jobs and growth, but also in terms of people.

Whilst the Government can set the right conditions for a move towards the green energy sector, it is at a local level where such ambitions can be effectively delivered.


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