Climate change and coronavirus ‘biggest risk to the Highlands’

Council leader Margaret Davidson took aim at the risk register, saying it’s heavy on strategy and light on action.

Climate change and coronavirus ‘biggest risk to the Highlands’ Halfpoint via iStock
Save our planet: Council leader Margaret Davidson took aim at the risk register, saying it’s heavy on strategy and light on action.

Members of Highland Council’s audit and scrutiny committee were told on Thursday that climate change and Covid are the biggest risks facing the local authority.

Covid still remains the top risk, labelled “catastrophic” for the region. However, climate change has shot up the risk register, as waste and emissions deadlines loom.

By 2025, the council wants all of its light fleet to be low-carbon. This is also the date when a national landfill ban goes live.

This means that the council will need to find an alternative solution to all its residual waste.

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While a new waste facility is planned for the Longman estate in Inverness, council officers still rate the non-compliance risk as “very high”.

Council leader Margaret Davidson took aim at the risk register, saying it’s heavy on strategy and light on action.

For instance, the council’s net-zero strategy is not due for completion until March 2022. By September 2022, the council says it will have “agreed a date for net-zero”.

The Highland climate change action plan itself is not due until June 2023.

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“The plans are good, but action is what’s needed,” cllr Davidson said.

“This is the biggest risk to the council and it needs spelling out.”

Ms Davidson added that the localised nature of some of the work made it difficult to tease out, but council still needs to try.

“Action is where I’d like to see this risk register focus,” she said.

By local democracy reporter Nicola Sinclair