Isle of Eigg
Community-owned Eigg has been labelled Britain’s most eco-friendly island.
In 2017, residents of the Isle of Eigg off the coast of Scotland celebrated 20 years since they bought their island and secured their future.
The buyout was launched in 1997 to address problems islanders were having with absentee landlords, including lack of home and business security, unemployment and poor housing. Since the islanders came together to buy the island for £1.5 million, the population has grown from 64 to more than 100, including families with young children.
The Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust was set up to be a guardian of the island’s independence. It acts as a de facto government, with three subsidiaries to focus on the islanders’ three main priorities: Eigg Trading Limited, Eigg Construction Limited and Eigg Electric Ltd.
Eigg Electrical Ltd has overseen the creation of an electricity grid powered by sustainable sources, from micro hydro, solar and wind schemes, to replace the previous system, under which each household organised their own power.
The community shop, a post office and a tea room fall under the ownership of Eigg Trading Limited, while Eigg Construction carries out building works, from house building to smaller repairs.
While most decisions get made without conflict, some islanders are still getting used to the change of mindset that accompanies self-governance. “We still struggle with an us-v-them mentality,” Sarah Boden, trust director, told the Guardian. “Sometimes decisions get made and people moan about ‘the Trust this’ or ‘the Trust that’. You have to remind them that they are the Trust.”
New rules needed
Policies that can help unleash the potential of this or similar initiatives across the UK.
Finance a Green New Deal
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Replace GDP with better measures of national success
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Introduce a Sustainable Economy Act
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Create devolved ‘just transition’ funds
Government should devolve a proportion of its Green New Deal budget to support local just transition plans.
Implement a Blue New Deal for coastal communities
Put coastal communities in control so they can shape local priorities, value their greatest asset and revitalise the UK coast.
Restore and rewild a quarter of UK land
Plan will help the UK reach net zero carbon emissions, restore biodiversity and help us adapt to climate change.