Archive for the ‘Trading Company’ Category

Primary school blown away by visit to windfarm

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The P5-7 pupils at Sir E Scott school are currently working on a project that looks at the pros and cons of wind generation. They have been learning about the impact of windfarms on the environment and the economy. The Trust’s Energy Development Officer spent some time in class last week explaining how wind-turbines work, and showing the pupils where the Trust has installed turbines in North Harris. The classroom session was followed up by a trip the next day to the Monan Windfarm. On a good breezy day, they saw the unique two-bladed turbines operating at full power. They got up close to a stationary one, with a look inside the tower. Feedback from the day was positive. The bus driver now knows all about wind-turbines – the kids were quite enthusiastic on the trip back to school apparently.


We plan next time to show the Primary Science Club members around the Bunavoneader Hydro-electric  scheme. We are fortunate to have access to these schemes. They are an excellent resource to help the schools introduce pupils to the renewables sector, which is becoming a major part of the Western Isles economy.

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Getting wet feet

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It’s over two months since the diggers moved onto the Bunavoneader site. Looking at the weather today, we are definitely getting into the wet season.

Work started by creating an access track up to the common grazing boundary. As with all projects in Harris, this was followed by a few weeks of rock-breaking. An intake is being built in the river just beyond the old dam. The river banks have been cut back to clean rock here, and some pipes sunk into the bed of the river to take the water, whilst the intake is built over the top.


Work has progressed well, with the concrete blinding being installed as a foundation, a couple of weeks ago. The intake structure is now taking shape on top of this. The picture shows the construction crew setting out the formwork for the main chamber that the water gathers in, before heading down the pipe to the turbine.

Heavy rain has stopped work in the river today, but the plan is still to complete the in-river work in the next couple of weeks. After that, focus can move to installing the pipe and erecting the turbine house at down at the shore.


The volunteer Directors of the Trust and its Trading Company have been working on this project since 2009. Despite financing and electricity grid set-backs we are now underway, with our JV partners S.T.I.L. The hydro-turbine itself is on order, but will not be on site until March next year. We look to be generating in the spring.

By this time, the government consultations on the Feed-in-tariff (FiT) will have closed and the changes implemented. FiT is the scheme that pays for the generation of “green” energy. Once again the goal posts will move. The pre-accreditation system is to end. This allowed developers to lock into the current FiT rate and still have two years to finance and build their hydro schemes. Community groups like ourselves needed this time and this guarantee of future earnings to find finance and ensure viability. With the recently-announced moratorium on grid connections in the Western Isles and this revision of the FiT scheme, Bunavoneader is likely to be the last new hydro scheme for some time.



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Bunavoneader hydro scheme gets under way

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This week sees the contractors starting the civil works at Bunavoneader. The project reached financial closure last week. A joint venture company has now been established for the Trust and its partner, Sustainable Technology Investors Limited to take the project forward.

The 100kW hydro-electric scheme is being built by Duncan MacKay&Sons. The mechanical and electrical works are contracted to Ross-shire Engineering who we started talking to in 2010.

access track week1

The first task is to get an access track in, below the road. This will give access for temporary welfare facilities and the site of the new turbine house. The project will take 9 months to complete due to the long lead time on the mechanical components. We will however be able to complete the civil works in the “dry season” -when it arrives.

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Iomairt an Obain ready for business

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It’s March 2nd and we now have three completed Business Units. The Iomairt an Obain development in East Tarbert was finally handed over to us on this fine spring day! There are a couple of outstanding tasks, like painting the white lines on the road and fitting the street lights, but these will have to wait for the better weather.

Today also marks the handing over of the first set of keys to new tenants. The Harris Tweed Company, Grosebay have taken a lease on Unit 1. They will be growing their mail-order operation and starting to manufacture tweed items on site.

We are in discussions with a mainland food-based business for the lease of Unit 2. The hope is to have the new business on site and manufacturing in the next 6 weeks.

The final unit is now being marketed to Food & Drink and Craft businesses on the mainland. One of the terms of the funding was that we try to attract a new family to the community. The best use of the building will be a  new family business, bringing new kids to the schools, new disposable income to the economy and creating new jobs for the community. This is what we are trying to do with press articles like these HERE and HERE.

We are planning an open day at the site on SATURDAY MARCH 28th for the community to have a look round and see what we have been building these last 6 months.

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A long trip from New Zealand ends in the Harris hills.

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towerliftOn Tuesday 25th November, North Harris got its first full-scale wind turbine.

The North Harris Trust has been working for over 9 years to develop the site at Monan, above Ardhasaig. Whilst communities at Horshader, Galson and Tolsta managed to commission their community turbines, North Harris lagged behind due to the challenging wind conditions. With grid-connection and financing problems behind us, and a suitable turbine, our joint venture with the turbine manufacturer has finally started to bear fruit.

For four years we have been working with Windflow Technology Ltd, who manufacture a unique two-bladed machine that can deal with the turbulent wind conditions found amongst the North Harris hills. Last week the first of three machines arrived from New Zealand and was lifted into place. Carrying out this work in the winter months is always risky, but the weather was sufficiently calm to allow the nacelle with blades to be lifted to the top of the tower. Duncan MacKay & Sons moved onto site way back in August. Since then they have built a 1200m access track and foundations. Now the job is on to get the cables installed in the ground and connected down the hill to the substation cabinet. Fingers are crossed that SSE can bring together the appropriate people to get the turbine connected to the grid before Christmas.
Once the Christmas break is over, preparations will get underway for the arrival of Turbine 2 and 3. Foundations and crane hard-standings are already in place. It is hoped that the turbines will be operational at the start of March and delivering a new income to the community for many years to come.


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..while the sun shines

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The Iomairt an Obain development in East Tarbert took another step forward last week. On Wednesday morning the timber-frame kits arrived on site. Three truckloads arrived in the pouring rain.


As the scaffold was erected, the rain blew away. This week the panels are going up in sunshine. Nearly all the walls are up for all three units. The glulam beams are lined up ready for the roof. The windows are due at the end of the week. Now we have finally sent the pecker away, and the groundwork is finished we can see some rapid progress.


An Expression of Interest form will be posted out next week to all those that have shown interest in the units. If you wish to request a copy, then please contact the Trust Office on 01859 502222

HIECnES Planning




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Monan Wind Company – making tracks

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While the sun shines in Harris, significant progress has been made building a new track up to the wind turbine sites.

Blast! from North Harris Trust on Vimeo.

Last week, after importing tons of stone from the Ceann an Ora quarry, the contractors claimed 4000 cubic meters of stone in the space of a few seconds. This will be used to extend the track between the sites for the three turbines.

The project is being developed by The Monan Wind Company, which is a Joint Venture between the North Harris Trust and Windflow Technology. Windflow has developed a smaller two-bladed machine that can tolerate higher levels of turbulence. They have 100 of them operating in similar terrain in New Zealand.

The Harris machines will arrive in Scotland on November 8th, so weather permitting, they will be installed before the end of the year.


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Bunavoneader Hydro Scheme update

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It’s getting on for 18 months since we last reported on this project. Things have been progressing slowly – but just not very visibly. We have had a number of set-backs with grid connections and finance deals, but now things are looking more hopeful.

Last year in May, we received a new grid connection offer. This is a very rare item in the Western Isles. All proposed large turbine schemes are on hold until the new undersea cable is installed to the mainland. You’ll have seen from the local press that this is still not confirmed. The latest estimate is 2019. Anyway, we received the offer for a 150kW turbine and immediately accepted it and paid the deposit. With planning already in the bag, all that was remaining was the finance.

In December 2013 we were introduced to Sustainable Technology Investors Limited by a community group on Mull. They are keen to help develop small scale hydro schemes. Since the start of the year, STIL has reviewed the design and have signed a Heads of Terms agreement with the Trust to start the wheels moving. Engineering Consultancy AECOM has been engaged. They have started the detailed design works and are liaising with Ross-shire Engineering and their civil engineering partner to firm up pricing for the turbine and the civil works. At the moment, the team is aiming to get all the in-river work complete before the wet season starts in 2014. The Turbine itself is on a 35 week lead time – so commissioning of the scheme will not be before summer 2015.

Now that the detailed design work is nearly complete, the critical thing is for SEPA to approve the designs. We await final approval from the crofters in the area, but once this has been done, we can get on and build something. We’re now in the sixth year of this project; let’s hope no more spanners get thrown in the works.

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The first arrivals for Monan

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The first components are starting to arrive on-island for the Monan wind development. Blades for the first turbine are sitting in storage, awaiting the remainder of the turbine. The Windflow 500 machine has two 15m blades instead of the usual three. Other parts will be arriving from New Zealand as well as Germany over the next few months. The contract for the civil works will be awarded shortly with work starting on site in July. The first turbine is scheduled to be erected in October.

A new planning application has been lodged with CnES (ref 14/00226/PPD) to revise the route of the currently permitted access track. The Windflow machines are smaller than those originally proposed. All parts can be shipped on standard articulated lorries, so the route up the Monan hill doesn’t have to be so gradual and sweeping. The simpler track will leave the main road, just north of Ceann an Ora quarry and head up to the three original turbine sites. The application is in the name of  Monan Wind Company. This is the new company set up by North Harris Trust and Windflow Technologies to develop the site.


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Huisinis Gateway Centre is revealed

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Following the success of the North Harris Eagle Observatory, we have been looking at ideas for a development at Huisinis. The Trust owns and operates the public toilets at Huisinis with the help of the local crofters. The current building desperately needs updating.

We secured funding from Big Lottery Fund’s Investing in Ideas fund to bring in an Architect to come up with some ideas for a new building. The Feasibility Study has just arrived and is available to download at the bottom of the page -bear in mind it’s a big file.

In speaking with the local community, there are a few other issues that the influx of summer visitors brings to the township -the biggest being the volume of vehicles. We cannot restrict access to the township – but we can manage the influx better. We hope to create new parking for campervans in the quarry on the road before Huisinis, and create more marked parking areas with the toilets. People have suggested camping sites and cafe facilities; we do however have to manage these expectations with the fact that this is a special area with SSSI, SPA and SAC designations. At this stage we have no commercial plans for the development.

Key features of the design are:

  • A wood and turf-roofed building to blend into the landscape
  • Improved car-parking layout and additional spaces to stop access being obstructed
  • New disabled-friendly toilets
  • Changing facilities for school groups
  • An indoor public area with large windows, interpretation panels and display space
  • A secure building with a single 24 hour access toilet
  • Improved bin facilities
  • A sluice point for camper vans


This Feasibility Study is a starting point. The document’s purpose is to start discussion and allow us to gather comments. We are working closely with SNH to ensure that we meet their requirements of any development in this designated area. Now we are working on getting a planning application together.


Floorplan    Siteplan   Design

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