The Tarbert Primary School Science Club members visited the Monan Windfarm last week. On a still day, they took in the views and got up close to a 500kW Windflow wind turbine.
Posts Tagged ‘community’
Scalpay Turbine update
Work is now nearly complete on the new windturbine at Outend, Scalpay.
An Orenda Skye 50kW turbine has been installed over the last few weeks by West Coast Energee from South Uist. The grid connection has been completed and there’s a satellite broadband connection for engineers to monitor operations.
The Scalpay turbine is one of ten machines being installed by Orenda Energy Solutions for Britannia Energy. One of their directors, based in Inverness, was here last month visiting the site for the first time.
NHT has leased the site to Orenda for 25 years. Various improvements have been made to the “peat road” as part of the project. The cost of upgrading the electricity grid for the turbine made the project non-viable for the Trust to develop itself.
Twelve months ago, we were well into the build of the three business units at Oban, on the outskirts of Tarbert.
The frames were up and watertight, and a group of pupils from Sir E Scott School were inspecting the work going on, on the inside. They were keen to see what each of the trades do, and what tools they use nowadays.
As we entered 2015, we spent time advertising the properties in various trade magazines. We aimed the properties at the craft/food & drink sectors. We had enquiries, but it was always going to be a long shot, finding an existing business willing to relocate to a remote island. Many people fancied the idea of living in Harris, but their business ideas would have struggled to create the new jobs that the project has to deliver. As the year has progressed, we have broadened the selection criteria.
By March 2015, the first of the units was ready for occupancy. March 1st saw The Harris Tweed Company, Grosebay move into Unit 1. Unit 2 saw Fiskmann Ltd move in briefly. Unit 3 was let in September to Buth Bheag Candle Co. In November we secured a new tenant for Unit 2, the well known local business Hotel Hebrides. It plans to start manufacturing a new product shortly.
So, at the end of 2015, we have three rent-paying tenants and three sets of solar panels generating a small income for the Trust. Each of the tenancies will be reviewed at their first anniversary to see if they have delivered the jobs and training that they promised.
2015 Isle of Harris Mountain Festival – Review
What an amazing week! The programme for 2015 was our biggest and most ambitious yet – packed full of guided walks, evening talks, workshops, boat trips and sporting events. The festival is now managing to bring a significant contingent of visitors to the island, at a time of year when things would otherwise be slowing down for the end of the season.
Our headline speaker was the fascinating Jim Crumley – a Scottish nature writer with an infectious passion for all things wild. He spoke about his book “The Eagle’s Way” which is about the reintroduction of sea eagles to Scotland, as well as touching on his latest publication about Beavers. Photographer Laurie Campbell gave some fantastic insights into nature photography, and mountaineer James Ogilvie told us of his adventures climbing the highest mountain on each continent around the globe, collectively known as the “Seven Summits,” The best turnout was for Alan Rowan, the “Munro Moonwalker” with captivating stories and images from his night-time climbs. He has inspired us to consider a night walk for next year’s festival – ascending a hill in the early hours of the morning to be at the summit for dawn.
Laurie Campbell also ran another set of photography workshops; an amazing opportunity for photographers to get tips and advice from one of the UK’s top nature photographers. These workshops ran alongside a very popular session hosted by local landscape photographer Darren Cole.
We had a mixed bag of weather for the guided walks; half the week we were treated to bright sunshine and gentle winds, whilst the rest of the time we were walking in full waterproofs! The first walk of the week was to Cravadale from Hushinish, with beautiful weather and an abundance of eagle sightings. We weren’t so lucky on the hill-walks up Todun and the Clisham – both days were wet, windy and cloudy, but we still managed to reach the summits. Spirits weren’t dampened – only our clothes! The Eagle Walk was once again massively popular, with 37 walkers and a good handful of sightings. Our top walk of the week was an ascent of Tiorga Mor, a hill in the west end of North Harris – a perfect hill day!
This year was the first time since year one that we worked with the Islands Book Trust, who ran a set of boat trips to the Isle of Scarp. Participants were given a few hours to explore the island before heading back across the sound to Hushinish. The event was so popular that the boat had to make seven return trips through the day.
Many events were delivered by partner organisations. Working with our numerous partners allows for a greater variety of events and helps to spread the benefits of the festival much more widely. Segway Hebrides returned to Harris to run trips up Glen Meavaig; The Scaladale Centre put on powerboat tours of Loch Seaforth right through the week (with Eagle sightings from the water on nearly every trip); Comhairle nan Eilean Siar ran rock climbing and Hill Skills sessions; and Sir E Scott School supported the Sea Kayaking sessions. Conditions on the water were perfect for the kayaking, and both sessions were fully booked. SurfLewis were also set to run surfing sessions but unfortunately weather and sea conditions didn’t permit the event to go ahead. Whale and Dolphin Conservation ran a special set of Shorewatch events in Rodel, and the Hebrides Mountain Rescue team hosted a “Night Nav” race in Glen Meavaig.
A few other highlights included the annual Raft Race in East Loch Tarbert – five teams participated and the race was won by the team calling themselves “Noah’s Ark”. The Rhenigidale Hill Race was also very popular with 22 runners, and marshalling from Hebrides Mountain Rescue. We also had a go at running a set of fishing taster sessions; one on freshwater at Lacasdail Lochs, and the other sea fishing at Scarista.
The festival dance was held in the Harris Hotel and for a second year running, the music and entertainment was provided by local celtic rockers Rock Island Line.
We are incredibly pleased with the attendance figures this year – just over 650 people attended all the events – well up from around 560 people the last two years. Now in its fifth year, it now feels as though the festival has become properly established in the annual calendar of walking festivals across the UK. Many people came from all across the country, and we are now gaining a sizeable following of people who are travelling here every year to take part. Again, we counted over 40 people who had come to Harris for the week specifically to attend the festival – bringing significant benefits to the local economy.
We are already getting to work planning next year’s event – if you have any suggestions please let us know by dropping an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We can also add your email address to our distribution list so that you’ll be kept up to date with developments for next year. Also check us out on Facebook and Twitter, and have a look at our website at www.harrismountainfestival.com.
The North Harris Trust would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to everyone who attended the festival, and to all the individuals and organisations that have supported us. We couldn’t have done it without you! Also we would like to thank Awards for All Scotland and Marine Harvest for funding the event.
Hope to see you all next year!
Matt Watts, North Harris Ranger
Getting wet feet
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.
Bunavoneader hydro scheme gets under way
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.
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.
Iomairt an Obain ready for business
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.
Monan now has two turbines
monan t2 from North Harris Trust on Vimeo.
Here’s a short video showing the second of three turbines being erected on the monan site. The towers arrived off the Newcastle ferry from Leipzig. They came in two sections. The turbine head arrived in a container from New Zealand and had the blades bolted on whilst on the ground. The whole lot was then lifted to the top of the tower and gently aligned before bolting securely together.
The Windflow 500kW turbine is unusual in having only two blades. This gives it the ability to pivot in one more axis and allows the turbine to deal with the high levels of turbulence experienced on the site.
A long trip from New Zealand ends in the Harris hills.
On 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.
New and growing businesses wanted
Since July, work has been underway on the East Tarbert/Urgha border to construct the first new business units in Harris for over a decade. Last year, The North Harris Trust secured funding from the Big Lottery, HIE and CnES to build facilities that will attract new jobs and training opportunities to the area. The high cost of construction here in Harris and the perceived lack of demand has meant that no commercial developer has ever considered this sort of development. As a community development trust, The North Harris Trust has managed to convince the funders that if the units are built, then the businesses will come, along with employment opportunities.
Over the last few months Lewis Builders and Duncan MacKay & Sons Ltd have been preparing the ground for the three timber-frame buildings. Everyone on site now understands how hard the Harris rock is. We have worn out 5 tips to the rock breaker and burst countless hydraulic hoses. At last though, we have something above ground to show for 3 months work. The larch-clad units have been designed to be energy efficient with their own solar panels for electricity generation. Each has a workshop area, office and toilet. The units are due for completion at the end of January 2015. Planning permission has been granted for Business and Light Industrial use.
Over the years since the project was first conceived, the Trust has gathered the names of interested parties. An Expression of Interest form is now available for these people and others to confirm their interest. The form will allow funders to determine which potential tenants are best placed to create a positive impact to the economy of North Harris.
The form can be downloaded HERE along with plans of the buildings. Hard copy versions can be sent by contacting David Wake on 01859 502222.
See the official Press Release HERE