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Fittie Hall development trust members
Fittie Hall development trust members

Fittie's fit for the future

A historic fishing village community, located adjacent to the heart of Aberdeen’s oil and gas industry, is combining an energy-efficient refurbishment of a community hall and a future-facing artistic collaboration to play its part in the energy transition in northeast Scotland.

Footdee, known locally as Fittie, is a historic fishing village within the city of Aberdeen. It sits on the edge of the harbour, separated from the city centre by a band of industrial development – most of it related to the oil and gas industry.

The Fittie Community Development Trust acquired the disused Gospel Hall in 2018 through a Community Asset Transfer. The hall needed a full refurbishment to make it a hub for a local community that is geographically isolated from facilities in the city. A major part of the refurbishment has involved improvements to energy efficiency and the installation of a new heating system.

The Vattenfall Unlock our Future Fund has made two awards to the Trust. An award of £15,000 for insulation and glazing and a further £8,536 for the heating system, consisting of an air source heat pump and underfloor heating.

The Trust sought expert advice Zero Waste Scotland's Energy Efficiency Business Support Service to identify the most efficient and cost effective options for the building. Work on the building was then phased as funding was secured. Today, the hall is now back in use, providing an important facility for a community emerging from Covid restrictions, with some improvements remaining to be done.

The work of the Fittie Community Development Trust exemplifies how a transition to a low carbon economy can encompass both physical changes to buildings and cultural changes, supported by the creative community.

The Trust has partnered with a local arts organisation ‘Open Road’ on a collaborative project funded by Creative Scotland. This project, ‘Safe Harbour: Open Sea’ brings together a team of five artists to work with the local community to both celebrate the past and look forward to a net zero future. The project is part of a Scotland-wide collaboration which aims to stimulate public engagement in the run up and following COP26. The energy efficient hall is both a venue for activity and an exemplar to those who use it.

 "The combination of the building efficiency improvements and the creative collaboration will enable us to secure a legacy for residents, and contribute towards the wider transition Aberdeen is undertaking as a city moving on from an economic dependence on oil and gas."

 

Cheryl Croydon, a Trustee of the Fittie Community Development Trust

Lessons from the Fittie Hall refurbishment and other funded projects have also influenced the grant making panel for the Vattenfall Unlock our Future Fund.  When the fund was launched in 2019, the priority was to support ‘innovative’ climate smart projects creating facilities fit for the future. ‘Innovative’ was later changed to ‘creative solutions’, which was felt by the panel to better convey that change is not necessarily brought about by technological innovation, it can also be inspired by artistic creativity and communities being supported to find new ways of doing things.

In addition, the panel amended fund guidance to put a greater emphasis on the ‘energy hierarchy’ which recognises the importance of low-tech measures such as good insulation being in place before investment is made in renewable generation technology.  A requirement for applicants to obtain independent advice which takes a holistic approach to energy efficiency has also been embedded in Foundation Scotland guidance.