Posts Tagged ‘community’

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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Business Unit update

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This week saw the first Design Team meeting in Harris. The Business unit project is being managed by Nick Thomson of Rural Design Architects. We have a Structural Engineer, a Quantity Surveyor and a CDM Co-ordinator in the team that will take this project through to completion at the end of 2014.

We are currently waiting on the Building Warrant to be signed off, but hope to be opening the tendering process on the Public Contracts Scotland web portal at the start of March. The plan now shows a six month building program starting in May.

Towards the end of the year, we will start actively marketing this new business space. We have already had a number of enquiries, but many are from people who just want storage space. The project is being funded on the basis that they will create new jobs, so helping to retain the younger members of the community. Job creation is key to securing a tenancy of a unit.

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2014 Isle of Harris Mountain Festival

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We’re very pleased to announce the dates for the 2014 Isle of Harris Mountain Festival!

The festival will take place between Saturday 13th and Saturday 20th September 2014. Billed as “a week-long celebration of the mountains of Harris,” this is the fourth annual event run by the North Harris Trust.

The programme will include: a range of guided walks, from stunning ridges & glens to glorious coastlines – including the return of the Clisham Horseshoe and our fantastic Golden Eagle Walk; talks & presentations from guest speakers, outdoor sports sessions, boat trips, film nights, a festival ceilidh and much more!

Full programme details will be announced in the new year – keep an eye on the festival website for updates, find us on Facebook and Twitter, or send an email to to be added to our email distribution list.

Feel free to share the news!

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Community ownership brings half a million pounds to North Harris

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The BIG Lottery has issued the following press release today:


The Big Lottery Fund Scotland’s Investing in Communities programme today announces its latest package of funding worth over £1.1 million to two projects in the Highlands and North Harris.


Inverness-based New Start Highland has been awarded a £673,748 grant to support its Project Shine.

The North Harris Trust has been awarded £502,212 to construct new zero carbon business units in the Tarbert area, creating 13 full time jobs together with three full time training places. By encouraging growth in enterprise the Trust aims to provide employment and training opportunities to young people who currently leave the area to find work while encouraging new families and employers to move into the community.

Calum MacKay, Chair of the North Harris Trust, said:

“Our 2012 Community Survey confirmed that the lack of jobs is the biggest issue facing our small community. This project will create first rate facilities that will attract new and growing businesses from near and far. Each will be expected to deliver on their promise to create new jobs and training opportunities. Support from the Big Lottery Fund confirms our belief that community-driven developments like this are the way to make a difference.”


Announcing the awards, Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair, Maureen McGinn, said: “Through our Investing in Communities programme the Big Lottery Fund is able to help a broad range of people in need. These can be activities to address long term unemployment due to substance misuse, offending or simply a lack of opportunity. The groups funded today are ideally placed to assist those with greatest need and make a huge difference to people’s lives.”

This award makes up 70% of the required funding package. An announcement from HIE on a further 20% of the package is due shortly. The project is being taken forward by the Trust on behalf of the community because of market failure. Neither commercial developers nor local authority have built business space in over 10 years. Without business space we cannot attract new and growing businesses and new jobs. Community ownership opens up access to funding for such projects.

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New BBC Alba Series

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There will be a preview showing of the upcoming BBC Alba documentary on Harris titled “Chi mi’n Tir” in the Tarbert Community Centre on Wednesday 28th August at 7:30pm. This series followed various individuals and organisations in North Harris over a year and provides “a look at North Harris, the people and the challenges.” We look forwards to seeing you there.





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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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Maraig in the mist

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The Feasibility Study for a hydro scheme on the river at Maraig is underway. It’s taken over six months since the original enquiry, but after pulling together three other community groups and sourcing funding from Community Energy Scotland and Leader – we are finally on our way.

On a misty Friday morning, three engineers braved the midges and headed out to walk the river. Highland Eco Design won a tender to review four potential community hydro schemes. After visiting Swordale, Galson and Gress, they “saved the best to last”. We haven’t had any serious rain for weeks. I thought this would be a bad thing – they said no -it’s exactly what we need to see. The level of the river they saw was the level that SEPA will insist is retained as a minimum throughout the year.

We walked from the Scottish Water weir down to the shore then back up to walk another tributary. It’s clear that there are a number of options for a scheme. There is one big constraint though -SSE will only allow a 50kW generator onto the grid. Until the interconnector goes under the sea to Ullapool – which will be a few years away yet – 50kW is where it’s at. So the dilemma is whether to design a 50kW scheme now or to build a bigger scheme and constrain it to 50kW until the new cable is in place. If we build a 50kW scheme, do we build it on a smaller tributary, keeping the bigger stream clear for future or do we use the best stream and get the best output now? So many questions – and three engineers to think about it – one already has his thinking cap on!

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10th Anniversary celebrated

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April 26th has come and gone. The celebrations are over for another 10 years.

The main event was held in Tarbert Community Centre. Manran, one of the hottest new bands in the Highlands took center stage supported by local Lewis band “Face the West”. The concert proved very popular with both locals and visitors alike. Both bands were brilliant and after some initial “shyness” the community centre was soon bouncing. Over 220 people attended the concert and feedback has all been very positive.

The following day, Matt our Ranger lead a guided walk from Amhuinsuidhe to Huisinish -despite precious little sleep. The walk had a high turnout and the weather remained  favourable for most of it. Around 30 people took part in the walk some of whom had danced the previous night away at the our concert. The walk was enjoyed by all.

The Amhuinnsuide Castle Estate joined in on celebrations by offering guided tours of the Castle on Saturday 27th April. This provided a rare opertunity to see inside the builing which has had such a prominent role in the history of North Harris.


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Our tenth year

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We are fast approaching April 26th – the 10th Anniversary weekend. In the build-up to the big concert with Manran and Face the West a few articles will be appearing in the local press.

This first article, in the West Highland Free Press, gives Brian Wilson’s view on ten years of community ownership. Download the header and picture HERE and the main article HERE.

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Community Consultation update

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Over the last few months, we have been updating the community consultation that we carried out in 2007. After community meetings in Maraig, Amhuinnsuidhe and Tarbert we sent out questionnaires  to the 350 households in North Harris. The feedback from these has been compiled into our first report.

Since then, we’ve been to Sir E Scott school and asked the secondary school pupils for their opinions. This information has now been compiled into our second report. These reports are available to download:

Community Consultation

Youth Consultation

The content of the reports has now been discussed by the Board of Directors  and plans are underway to revise our business plan to ensure we address the issues highlighted.


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