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21 July 2010

Minister for Climate Change Visits Action Outdoors

Mr Stewart Stevenson MSP, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change, visited the Action Outdoors Centre in Redding today to hear all about the innovative learning facilities’ green credentials.

The Minister was met by representatives of some of the funding partners behind the Centre, which recently scooped top prize in the Education and Learning category of the British Urban Regeneration Association’s Waterways Renaissance Awards 2010: David Lamont, Head of Operations, British Waterways Scotland; Karen Moore, Development Director Scotland, The Waterways Trust Scotland; Sheila Maxwell, Community Regeneration Officer, Linkwide Housing Association, which specifically funded the Green Action Project; as well as Fiona Hamilton, Project Development Manager, Action Outdoors and Action Outdoors Volunteers, Adam Wond, David Walker, Nathan and Andrew Murphy.

The Minister’s tour began with an introduction to the green energy pump which generates heat for the Action Outdoors Centre.

The energy saving heat pump was funded by the Scottish Community & Householder Renewables Initiative (SCHRI) and the Waterways Trust’s Green Fund which was established with UK Boat Hire, Britain’s leading canal hire boat company to invest in low carbon technologies and other environmental projects which help mitigate for the carbon emissions caused by holidays taken along the canals and rivers.

The pump works on the same principle as a fridge – cooling one part of the environment and thereby generating heat. In this case, using pipes submerged in the canal, a refrigerator plant cools the canal water and makes use of the heat recovered to provide hot water and central heating for the Action Outdoors building. Heat generated in this way has much reduced carbon emissions compared with conventional gas or oil boilers.

The visit also afforded the Minister the opportunity of hearing more about the new Green Action Project which is based at the Action Outdoors Centre.

Co-ordinated by Action Outdoors and The Waterways Trust Scotland, the Green Action Project is designed to give local 16-24 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds greater employment opportunities and access to potential further education. Specifically, project participants are given the opportunity to enrol on a 12 week long environmental or tourism volunteer training programme, working through the environmental programme on the canal or at Action Outdoors or taking the tourism programme at The Falkirk Wheel.

Green Action participants are also given the opportunity to participate in outdoor activities on the canal as part of a personal and social development programme.

To date, 36 participants have successfully completed one of the training programmes and six young people have moved into employment or training as a result including one young person now employed full-time at The Falkirk Wheel.

The Minister also met with some of Action Outdoors’ regular participants whilst they took part in canoeing and kayaking on the Union Canal, just outside the Centre.

Stewart Stevenson, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change, said:

“The Action Outdoors Centre is making the best use of its immediate environment in an innovative and successful effort to reduce carbon emissions.

"I am delighted to be in Falkirk to see how this centre is rising to the climate change challenge by harnessing the potential of our canals to contribute to a sustainable and active future - and ultimately helping Scotland to achieve its world leading emissions reduction targets."

Karen Moore, Development Director Scotland, The Waterways Trust Scotland, said:

“We are delighted to welcome the Minister to Action Outdoors today. Since it opened in 2008, through the enthusiasm and efforts of funders, management and volunteers, the centre has gone from strength to strength and we are now seeing the real benefits to participants coming through as they develop a raft of new skills, both personal and those enhancing their employment potential.

“We are also particularly proud of our environmental activities which underpin our core objective – to encourage as many people as possible to get out and about on the Scottish canals, enjoying the wildlife, heritage and open space, whilst ensuring that the waterways are nurtured and sustained for the enjoyment of future generations.”
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