Posts Tagged ‘hebrides’

Iomairt an Obain ready for business

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units

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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Monan now has two turbines

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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.

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A new fencing challenge

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One of our projects to support the regeneration of native woodlands progressed rapidly this week as 10 tonnes of fencing materials were airlifted out to Gleann Trolamaraig.

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Important remnants of native woodland still cling to inaccessible steep slopes along the shores of Loch Trolamaraig and in numerous gorges. With a reduction in grazing pressure, seedlings from these ‘relics’ will at last have the chance to establish and colonise the open ground.

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By making the most of natural boundaries to red deer access formed by lochs, populated areas and the sea, the relatively short 3km electric fenceline will effectively annex an area of 1,500ha. No doubt some deer will still find their way into the area but with the support of the Harris Stalking Club deer densities will be kept as low as possible.kyles

 

 

 

Contractors have been appointed to install the fence strainers over the next three months and Trust staff, assisted by volunteers, will complete the fence during the summer of 2015.

Clearly it is going to take decades for these seedlings to establish extensive woodland areas, but if natural regeneration is successful, the process will be accelerated by planting trees propagated from locally gathered seed.

So far, thanks are due to The John Muir Trust and The Carnegie Trust for donating the majority of the fencing materials. Net Services (Scotland), Paul Finnegan and CNES are thanked for their help with the logistics.

If you have any questions about this project, contact our Land Manager: Gordon Cumming  at gordon@north-harris.org tel: 01859502683

Trolmaraig Copter from North Harris Trust on Vimeo.

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Maraig Hydro update

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Early last year, we started exploring the possibility of building a small-scale hydro-electric scheme on the Maraig river. Since Maraig and Rhenigedale were connected to the Carragraich Treatment Works, the small water treatment works at Maraig stopped extracting from the river. This gave the Trust the opportunity to take water for hydro-electricity.
In April, the Trust was awarded Community and Renewable Energy Scheme funding to progress the project through the permissions stage. Highland Ecodesign was the company that carried out the feasibility work. They were engaged once more to come up with a scheme that fits the constraints imposed by the grid company and meets planning and SEPA water extraction requirements.

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The scheme comprises a small weir and intake next to the Rhenigedale turn below the old water treatment works. A turbine house will be constructed down near the shore on the Eilean Anabaich side of the footbridge. The two sites will be linked by a buried 350m length of 560mm plastic pipe.
intake
During the summer, the prescribed environmental surveys were carried out. Firstly a fish habitat survey with electro-fishing; then a protected mammal survey, looking for otters and fresh-water mussels. Then a full topological survey and a peat management plan. Finally a sediment plan allowed us to submit our application for planning permission in September. In December we secured planning permission and a SEPA licence. With a £12,000 deposit already paid to SSE for the grid connection, all the permissions are now in place.

The next stage is to decide how the project will be funded.

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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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Tasmania – looking at community regeneration

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We hosted a visit today from a visitor from Tasmania. I had to look on the map to see exactly where it was!

Imogen Ebsworth is an advisor for a Senator in the Australian parliament. She is on a month long fact-finding mission to the UK. She has seen disadvantaged steel works communities and coal mining communities and has been to Harris to see how remote, rural communities can be re-energised through community land ownership.

taz

Tasmania is a bit closer to the equator than Harris, but as an island, has a similar cool temperate climate. They know about wind too, having in the “roaring forties”. 45% of their land is designated as national park. Forestry and Mining are big industries which often conflict with the National Park designations. They have a similar ageing population with few young people and children. Holiday homes are common as are people retiring to the area.

It’s surprising that someone can come from the opposite site of the globe -perhaps our furthest-travelled visitor, and have so much in common.

 

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New and growing businesses wanted

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kits3

 

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

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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.

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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.

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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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dam4

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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