Archive for the ‘Trading Company’ Category

How should we Celebrate in 2014?

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We are currently thinking about our Anniversary celebrations for 2014 and would like some suggestions as to how you think we should celebrate!? A concert? Ceilidh? Dance? Or Something totally different!? You tell us…………. get in touch with us on Facebook or email Karen on admin@north-harris.org

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Employment Opportunity for local young person

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The North Harris Trust has been awarded funding through the Community Jobs Scotland scheme to take on an additional member of staff at the North Harris Community Recycling Site. We are now looking for a 16-19 year old to work alongside existing staff at the Urgha site. The vacancy is for either 26 or 39 weeks -working Tuesday to Saturday, depending upon the age of the applicant. The vacancy will shortly be advertised by Jobcentre Plus.

 This vacancy is only available through Community Jobs Scotland. Applicants must be aged 16 to 19 years and meet specific eligibility criteria.  Application can only be made via your local Jobcentre Plus or Skills Development Scotland adviser

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From barren to bushy

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This is how the bare planting beds looked on the 6th of March in 2008, some six weeks prior to planting.

The “before” picture

The trial, part of a wider project designed to investigate the potential for biomass production on the Western Isles, utilised a range of species and varieties including, Alder, Sycamore, Willow hybrids, and Poplars.

In autumn of 2012 the Trust started work on coppicing the plots (cutting the trees off some 100 to 150mm above ground level).  Whilst the weather conditions over the winter of 2012 and spring of 2013 were milder than normal the resultant re growth from the coppiced stumps has been very encouraging, even from the smaller and less vigorous trees.  Supported by the evidence from last year’s work the Trust will now proceed with the coppicing of fifty percent of each of the remaining plots.  The un-coppiced half of each plot will be allowed to grow on for several more years to test whether delayed coppicing results in a more vigorous re-growth and a greater production of biomass.

So called “specimen” trees on each plot have been tagged and will be used as a source of future planting material, to re-plant the failed areas within the trial and for new planting elsewhere.

The photograph below, taken on the 8th of August 2013 shows the vigorous re-growth of trees coppiced 10 months previously.  The real test will come later this autumn and winter when the soft re-growth will be subject to harsh salt-laden winds.

It will be a few years before we will have conclusive evidence of the potential for biomass production.  However if the early indications are anything to go by, if appropriate species are chosen and established well, there would seem to be definite potential for biomass production under a suitable regime of coppice management.  Whether or not the annual production of biomass dry-matter would be sufficient on its own to make it economic to fuel a biomass boiler remains to be seen, though the indications so far suggest that production would usefully supplement proprietary solid fuel in a suitable boiler.

Summer 2013, 10 months after coppicing foreground trees

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Another hydro opportunity pops up

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Just when you’re really not getting anywhere with a project, another one comes along.

Scottish Water has spent a fortune upgrading the Water Treatment Works at Carragreich. This is now supplying purified water to the majority of North Harris and Scalpay. Last year a pipe was installed over the hill to Maraig; connecting the village to the new water main. In doing so, another of the remote, village-scale treatment works becomes redundant. And there’s the opportunity. Plenty of water tumbles down from behind the Clisham, now with no-one to use it. Maybe we can design a 50kW scheme that will get around the grid constraint that is holding up the bigger Bunavoneader project. All projects >50kW are on hold until the undersea cable and interconnector are in place… and who knows when that will be?

Community Energy Scotland has offered to put together a tender for a feasibility study for this river as well as two other potential community schemes on Lewis. Hopefully in a few months time we’ll have a better idea of the costs involved, and how productive the river could be.

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Work finishes at West Tarbert

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This week saw the heavy machinery move off site on land above West Tarbert. In the spring, we secured planning permission for three micro-wind turbines on Trust land behind the Croileagan. Working in partnership with Community Energy Scotland and Hebridean Housing Partnership, three Evance machines were purchased for the site. Three 5kW wind turbines are now connected to three of the social housing units in Parkview Terrace. Along with the air-source heat pumps, the turbines will be making a significant dent in the heating bills of three Tarbert residents.

West Electrical Services has once again done a great job in getting the machines installed, despite the difficulties in access to the site.

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Work starts at Huisinis

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Work started on site this week to install two wind turbines on the hill above the toilets at Huisinis. Concrete pads have been cast for the two turbines. These will cure for a week before the rock anchor is drilled for each turbine. The cables have been buried on their way down to the toilet block. Where the cables and the protective ducting cross bare rock – in the last few meters, we are going to try a new capilliary matting system to replace turf cutting.

In the toilet block, we have installed all the control gear for the two 5kW turbines. They have also started to fit lighting for the first time in the building.

We now await SSE to arrive on site and install the new mains connection. They will be on site in ten days time to run a new cable from the nearest transformer to the toilet block. This will power the toilets on calm days and allow us to export any excess eletricity we generate.

Meanwhile back in the office, we anxiously await contact from the Investing in Ideas Fund. We have applied for funding for an Architect to come up with some plans for an updated toilet facility. This will double the size of the building, and include an indoor viewing area.

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Huisinis project well underway

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Today we paid the deposit on the wind-turbines for Huisinis. Hopefully work will start on site this week, in preparing the foundation plinth. The turbines are already sitting in Stornoway with our name on.

SSE have confirmed that they will be ready to connect the toilets to the grid at the end of October. So, at the moment it’s looking like we might be on schedule for commissioning and registration before the December 1st deadline.

This winter, you’ll be able to spend a penny in the hours of darkness – for the first time.

In the background, we have also applied to the Investing in Ideas fund to help us carry out a Feasibility Study. We have already tendered for an Architectural Team to come up with a design and a budgetary cost to redevelop the toilet block into a “Machair Refuge”. We hope to be able to recreate the success of the North Harris Eagle Observatory.

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Huisinis Planning Approval

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This week we received permission from the planners to put up two micro-wind turbines like the one shown in the picture. The two machines will hopefully sit on 12.5m towers on the rocky bit of ground behind the toilets – before you get to the machair-proper. For the first time this winter, you’ll be able to spend a penny during the darkness hours.

We are still hard at work looking for funding for the main redevelopemnt of the toilet block. The objectives are to provide:

a room like the Eagle Observatory for winter shelter and viewing
1. somewhere for groups to meet – like our guided walks
2. somewhere to include some interpretation on the machair
3. a start to the ready-funded nature trail

updated toilet facilities
1. expansion space for future showers (dependent upon water supply upgrade)
2. recycling rain water to reduce demand on the village supply
3. improved rubbish bin facilities

upgraded parking

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Zero-Carbon Grant Award

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We have just been awarded £32,000 towards the work that will take us to the point of tendering for the construction of the units. The Big Lottery have made the award that will cover Solicitor’s, Accountant’s, Civil Engineer’s, Quantity Surveyor’s and Architect’s fees for the next few months. This alongside nearly £10,000 from HIE will help the project move along nicely.

We now need to sort the ownership of the land out, and get the project costs firmed up. We hope to be able to tender for the build next spring.

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Zero Carbon Business Units take the next step

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At last! It’s taken 6 months, but we’ve finally got our planning permission for the business units in East Tarbert.

Work has already started on the next stage – the funding. We have successfully completed Stage 1 of the application to the Growing Community Assets Fund at the Big Lottery. We are now working up an application for Development Funding to get together everything that is required for the Stage 2 application.

We have also been talking to HIE about funding. They have now offered a further £10K towards the pre construction costs.

So we are still making progress.

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