By: Joan Megson, Community Activist

Change is coming. How should Scotland’s rural communities, businesses, organisations and people respond? I went to the Scottish Rural Action Conference to find out more.

The location of the conference, the Lanark World Heritage Centre set the tone of what we were to focus on well. The questions posed were; What can we learn from rural Scotland’s industrial past? What economic opportunities are about to present themselves? How can we better balance the wellbeing of our people and the needs of our planet? How can we work together to enact positive, meaningful change?

Back in Moray, where I live, I have become involved through Burghead & Commingston Community Council (BCCC) in a project called Rural Wisdom which is working to make rural communities work well for people as we get older and for the other people who live there. Jointly we have identified fuel poverty as a huge problem in our area and the Scottish Rural Action Conference seemed a good place to explore some possible alternative energy and fuel poverty solutions.

The conference had an excellent range of speakers, with plenty of networking, inspiring presentations and busy workshops. We explored how to develop a rural movement and how rural communities can help address climate change.

The workshop on climate change lead by Soil Scientist Janet Moxley gave some interesting examples of renewable energy projects. I plan to share these with my community to see what we can be learn from these while we develop our own fuel poverty solutions.

Transport is an issue that is close to the heart of all rural communities and Moray is no exception. It was really interesting to hear from the Rural Development Trust about a community centred transport project that is expanding into electric buses, combining rural transport solutions whilst helping address climate change.

I returned to my community with many new ideas to help to do our part to address climate change and reduce fuel poverty. It also inspired me to find ways to make sure our Moray voice is heard by the Scottish Government when they are addressing rural challenges.