A COMMUNITY group which sprung up out of opposition to proposals for a £43million waste-to-energy incineration plant has used its first anniversary to pledge it's in it for the long run.
The Invergordon community company ICARE has steadfastly maintained that the controversial proposals should go to a full public local inquriy (PLI).
At an AGM in Invergordon, the office bearers who stood down were immediately voted back on again by members.
They are: Tina McCaffery (chair), Gary Faulds (vice-chair), Allan Watt (secretary), Benjamin Mackay and Antony Gardiner (treasurer). All are volunteers and unpaid.
ICARE has developed into a community-owned company which will help and advise on recycling and the environment in Invergordon and beyond.
Said Tina McCaffrey, "ICARE believe they represent what communities across the globe are doing in order to make their voices heard in an increasingly power driven society.
"Invergordon's brand of people power has made a big difference to their town, not least standing up to a controversial major development."
She said the group had shown "there is still a place for local democracy and local accountability in a world that increasingly answers to big Government and big multinationals".
Highland Council initially rejected the proposals by Combined Power and Heat (Highlands) Limited following a stormy meeting in the port town. The company then successfully appealed to the Scottish Government Reporter the plan had been recommended for approval by officials. Business tycoon Mohamed Al-Fayed then entered the fight with a pledge to bankroll a Court of Session challenge through the local Balnagown Estate he owns. In December 2010, Scottish Ministers overturned the Reporter's decision and paved the way for a fresh push by ICARE for a full PLI.
The Reporter then called on the would-be developer to review and update several key elements of its Environmental Statement before a final decision is taken on how the issue will ultimately be resolved.
Reflecting on the past year, Ms McCaffrey, a local businesswoman in Invergordon, said, "It was great to see so many young people involved right from the start of the campaign. It's future generations who will have to live with the decisions we make now, so we need to make the right ones.
"There's a real feeling of community spirit in Invergordon and our vision is to continue to make the area a better place to live.
"This can only happen if the region is allowed to flourish in an environmentally friendly way, that doesn't burn valuable resources."
She insisted that while ICARE will continue to campaign against the incineration scheme which many fear on health grounds equally important is work on a plan to open a Community Recycling Resource to allow Invergordon to recycle waste in a greener way.
That, she says, would provide the Invergordon community with a long-term alternative to waste incineration.
Tina McCaffery said, "The local community want to take control of making Invergordon a greener place to live.
"The community has been against the proposed incinerator from the very start but we want to show that we can put forward an alternative way.
"We'd like to make Invergordon the greenest town in Scotland ICARE will hopefully be seen as a Centre of Excellence in community recycling. People Power is the most renewable kind of power there is."
Combined Power and Heat (Highlands) has insisted that its plans which would involve energy being generated from incinerated waste - are environmentally friendly and accord with stringent regulations laid down by bodies such as the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.
To find out more about ICARE, see www.icaretrust.co.uk