How should we measure sustainability? Is it about the environment, the trend of social issues such as levels of wealth, health, population mix, access to education, is it about economic development? Or is it unquantifiable things like happiness, well-being and confidence? It is a complex study and yet organisations that support community companies and development trusts increasingly ask what differences will this project make to the lives of your community and how will you measure these changes?
A zen quote suggests sustainability is a practice and journey of awareness, action and ripple effect.
So what of our community – we have a wonderful asset with Shalunt and Rhubodach Woods. We can be aware of our responsibility to Think and Act as Owners, we can do that with creative and innovative actions that help us be sustainable. BCLC’s strategy to make the most of our asset by exploring renewable energy as a potential income stream is a sound one, providing economic sustainability for the community company and importantly for community projects.
Hydro was selected as the best option, following community consultations, for minimum impact environmentally and most viable economically. I believe the project will bring other benefits too and whilst some of them may be difficult to measure they will be evident.
- Tangible Benefit – A sustainable income stream to fund community projects particularly community forest projects in line with community aspirations outlined in ‘right to buy’ feasibility study and other needs identified through consultation – £30,000 – £60,000 – within 3 years.
- Intangible Benefit – Sense of self-worth in the knowledge the community are generating income to be used on other community projects
- Tangible Benefit – Create local skills development opportunities and create local jobs during construction phase – numbers to be confirmed.
- Intangible Benefit – Increased self-confidence through personal development and personal economic development
- Tangible Benefit – Over 30 year lifetime of the hydro project carbon reduction of 5467.2 tonnes
- Intangible Benefit – A feeling of well-being in contributing to a reduction in pollution and heightened awareness of green energy supply
As I do the preparation work for Phase 1 I hope the ripples from these benefits travel far across our community. Please check back for updates on the Hydro Scheme over the coming weeks and months.