FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has officially opened a new £6 million renewable energy scheme providing low-cost heat from wastewater.

The Stirling District Heat Network is thought to be the first project of its kind in the UK and uses cutting-edge technologies to harness energy from wastewater from the city's sewage works.

This power will be used to provide affordable, low-carbon heat to public buildings including The Peak Leisure Centre, St Modan's High School and Stirling Albion FC's ground, Forthbank Stadium.

It will also be used to heat offices for organisations including Zero Waste Scotland and Volunteer Scotland.

The scheme is expected to save 381 tonnes of carbon a year, equivalent to 1.5 million miles driven in an average petrol car or a passenger jet flying from Glasgow to Sydney 82 times.

It was developed jointly between Stirling Council and Scottish Water Horizons, which invested £1 million and £3 million respectively.

A further £2 million of cash came from the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme funded by the Scottish Government and European Union.

The First Minister officially opened the project while visiting Stirling as part of the 50th travelling Cabinet ahead of the project's switch-on next month.

She also announced £300,000 will be invested to help expand the Climate Ready Classrooms scheme to aid young people in understanding climate change.

Trees will be planted in the local community to offset carbon emissions from the travelling Cabinet engagements.

Sturgeon said: "Earlier this year, Scotland became one of the first countries in the world to acknowledge the fact that we are facing a global climate emergency and it is only right that we take appropriate action – with all policies being re-examined to ensure they meet our climate ambitions.

"That's why the action we've announced today is important – and it will build on the world-leading measures already under way to address the climate crisis we face.

"We have already proposed one of the most ambitious statutory emissions targets anywhere in the world and today's announcements illustrate our commitment to developing new and innovative policies which will make a real difference."

She added: "The Stirling Renewable Heat Demonstration Project is a great example of this, using waste water to help provide energy to local businesses and public buildings.

"We are also changing the way we work as a Government to provide an example to others, and our commitment to ensure future meetings are as low carbon as possible is testament to this."

Scottish Water chief executive Douglas Millican accompanied the First Minister on her tour of the facility.

He said: "Sustainability is vital for homes, businesses and services, and using the energy from waste water is a great example of using resources to their maximum benefit.

"This new scheme in Stirling will go a long way towards helping reduce our carbon footprint and protecting the environment."

Stirling Council leader Scott Farmer said the city is "determined to lead the way on tackling climate change".