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BBC PRESENTER HOSTS BIG GREEN CHALLENGE FINAL IN HIGHLAND CAPITAL

28th May 2007

Photograph of BBC PRESENTER HOSTS BIG GREEN CHALLENGE FINAL IN HIGHLAND CAPITAL

BBC Newsround presenter Laura Jones visits Inverness next month (June) to host the final of the Big Green Challenge where four schools will battle it out before a panel of top judges.

The Big Green Challenge, sponsored by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), is the first debate of its kind to tackle head-on one of Scotland's most pressing issues - renewable energy.

After a series of local heats involving 35 teams from 20 schools and nearly 100 young people, the competition reaches its climax at the new 23m Centre for Health Science on Tuesday 19th June.

The four schools to have made it through to the final are Keith Grammar, Lochaber High School, the Nicolson Institute and Thurso High School.

Youngsters from the four schools will have their debating and public speaking skills put to the test in front of a live audience and judging panel including Scottish Natural Heritage chairman Andrew Thin, Friends of the Earth Scotland chief executive Duncan McLaren and HIE chairman Willy Roe.

Elaine Hanton, head of renewables at HIE, says the response to the competition has been extremely positive.

"The enthusiasm and commitment to the Big Green Challenge by all the schools has exceeded even our most optimistic forecasts.

"There's been an extraordinary level of engagement and interest in a subject which will have a very real impact on the lives of all these young people.

"The other thing which is striking is the level of talent our there. In the local heats we've seen some extremely eloquent and persuasive communicators. I think we're in for a fascinating final!"

The winners can look forward to an all expenses paid trip to Navarre in Northern Spain which is fast gaining global recognition for its renewable energy expertise.

The area is home to 530,000 people - just slightly higher than the population of the Highlands and Islands - and already 61 per cent of its energy requirements come from renewable sources.

The runner's up will also be heading south on a visit to the world famous Eden Project in Cornwall.

The photo is of the teams from Thurso and the Nicolson Institute deep in debate at the regional final of the Big Green Challenge last Tuesday at Ross County Football Club.

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