A CAMPAIGN to create the first "carbon neutral" town in Scotland is to be launched tomorrow in an attempt to kick-start a green revolution.
Under the plan, the town of Biggar, which has a population of about 2,000, would grow its own food, create its own electricity and dump no waste.
A group of activists, backed by the South Lanarkshire town's two schools, church and several businesses, will hold a meeting in the Municipal Hall tomorrow in the hope of persuading the rest of the residents to join the campaign. Hundreds are expected to attend.
Estate agent John Riley, a driving force behind the project, said he believed it was only a matter of time before people realised it would save them money on their electricity bills and increase the value of their houses.
He has also been encouraging people to rent Al Gore's documentary film An Inconvenient Truth ahead of the launch in the hope of inspiring them to join the cause for altruistic reasons.
Mr Riley, who has been in touch with the Cheshire village of Ashton Hayes - also trying to be carbon neutral - admitted: "By no means is everybody signed up to it and if the community decide they don't want this, it's dead in the water. But I hope they say we need to do this.
"It's moving Biggar to a situation where we can be sustainable in terms of local food and energy, and will make it the place to be if you want to live that kind of lifestyle. It is a grand dream, but you have to start somewhere."
He said energy-efficiency certificates for homes, due to come in next year, would have an impact on the market, and if Biggar made improvements now, "we'll be a good year or year-and-a-half ahead of everyone else".
While Biggar contributes a tiny fraction of the world's carbon emissions, Mr Riley hopes such unilateral action will help put pressure on politicians.
"My real hope is to have it as a rolling thing that more and more towns come on board and really just stimulate the government into doing something more quickly," he said.
Hamish Stewart, the Conservative councillor who represents Biggar, said he would "certainly be lending my support".
Duncan McLaren, of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said he hoped places all over the country would follow Biggar's example of its "excellent initiative".
• THE Findhorn Foundation eco-village in Moray has recorded the lowest ecological footprint ever in the developed world. The community's footprint scores for "food" and "home and energy" were found to be 37 per cent and 21.5 per cent of the UK average.
HOW IT COULD WORK
Micro-renewable schemes such as small wind turbines to serve the town
Grow local food
Plant vegetables, buy food from local producers
Recycle and cut waste
Compost garden waste and ensure recycling services are available to all
Reduce reliance on private cars
Walking bus to take children to school, better public transport/car-sharing, off-set emissions from remaining air and car travel by tree-planting and other schemes.