The Western Isles will host a £1 million Extreme E motorsport event next year following a surprise budget announcement by UK chancellor Rishi Sunak last week (Wednesday 27 October).
Extreme motor sport, economic benefit and environmental innovation will all be showcased as the formula-1-style off-road event focuses world attention on the islands.
Extreme E is an international off-road racing series that uses electric vehicles to race in remote parts of the world, highlighting the climate challenges faced by different ecosystems.
Each race chooses a location threatened by climate change and draws attention to the issues and challenges posed.
Formula One World Champions Sir Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button each have their own teams, and all Extreme E teams feature both a male and female driver in a bid for gender equality.
This year’s X Prix stages have been held in locations as diverse as Kangerlussuaq in Greenland, Lac Rose in Senegal and the rocky Mediterranean island of Sardinia.
The Outer Hebrides reportedly narrowly missed out on hosting the race in 2021, when the final race of the year was awarded instead to Bovington military base in Dorset, to be dubbed ‘the Jurassic X Prix’.
Following the chancellor’s surprise announcement, the race series organisers said they had been holding productive discussions with the UK Government, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and other partners over several months.
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar leader Cllr Roddie Mackay said: “The announcement by UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak is a ringing endorsement of the climate ambitions of the Outer Hebrides.
“This is extremely good news for our communities as we seek to position ourselves as low carbon islands.
“COP26 in Glasgow will set the global decarbonisation agenda and, as host for the Scottish round of Zero Carbon race series Extreme E, the Outer Hebrides will again be punching above its weight in climate terms.
“It is particularly fitting that an island group on the Atlantic frontier with the most to lose from climate change in terms of extreme weather events and rising sea levels has been selected to host this race.
“Extreme E principles fit well with our aspirations to rapidly decarbonise our island society and economy.
“We will now work closely with Extreme E, environmental agencies and the community at the race location to ensure only positive impacts for the community and the planet and we will ensure that the legacy benefits of this event spread to other island communities from the Butt to Barra.”
Alejandro Agag, Founder and CEO of Extreme E said: “We are thrilled with this investment and to be exploring racing in Scotland in 2022.
“It is a fitting location off the back of COP26 and will allow the conversation on electric mobility and the climate emergency to continue further, inspiring action and highlighting various solutions and mitigation strategies.”
Extreme E aims to ‘race without a trace’, leaving each destination the way it was found following the events.
In addition, each X Prix has its own legacy programme to leave a long-lasting positive impact, and Scotland will be no different.
So far, the series has supported the planting of one million mangroves in Senegal, a climate education programme in association with UNICEF in Greenland, turtle conservation along the Red Sea coastline in Saudi Arabia, reforesting of the Amazon rainforest plus restoration of seagrass and areas hit by wildfires in Sardinia.
Further details regarding the event are expected to be revealed in due course.
Pictures show action from the 2021 rounds in Sardinia (Charly Lopez) and Greenland (Sam Bloxham) (both Extreme E).