Posts Tagged ‘hebrides’

24th July: Minke Whales!

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Yesterday on the Guided Walk out to Scalpay lighthouse, we were treated to sightings of a number of Minke Whales out in the Minch! The sea was totally flat/calm so it was really easy to spot everything on the water. Also plenty of Gannets, Guillemots and Gulls, as well as a Great Northern Diver and even a solitary Puffin fishing just off the lighthouse! What a day!

 

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Work starts on site

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Work got underway this week to prepare the site in East Tarbert for three new business units. Lewis Builders, who have been awarded the contract have moved their welfare facilities onto site. They are working with the North Harris Agricultural Show committee to ensure there will be no problems on the day of the show (July 17th).

The three business units are scheduled to be complete in January, but the first task is excavating three flat pads to build upon.

Iomairt an Obain is the name of the development, and signage will be erected shortly with this and the logos of the funders.

We are still collecting the names of people who have shown interest in renting one of the units. A formal application process will be announced in the Autumn.

 

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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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Joint announcement from Windflow Technology Ltd and The North Harris Trust

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 Windflow UK Limited and the North Harris Trust are pleased to announce that they have reached agreement to construct a wind project at Monan, on North Harris in the Outer Hebrides.  The project is located on an elevated ridge about 5 miles north of Tarbert and will use three 500 kW Windflow 500s manufactured by Windflow in New Zealand.  It will be constructed during 2014.

This project has been under development for several years, but stumbled because of the difficult wind conditions caused by the proximity of large mountains such as the Clisham, the highest mountain in the Outer Hebrides at 799 metres (2,621 ft).  The Windflow 500 has been designed – and independently certified by Lloyds Register – to operate for 20 years in “class 1A” wind regime, which is the toughest classification defined by IEC 61400, the design standard for wind turbines.  With its 33 m rotor the Windflow 500 is large enough to generate useful amounts of electricity, but small enough to minimise visibility and get onto difficult sites using standard-sized lorries and roads.

A joint venture company called Monan Wind Company Limited has been set up to build and operate the project.  North Harris Trust owns 10% of this joint venture through its Trading Company and will receive a rent on behalf of the community for the life of the project.  In addition to Windflow’s turbines, the project will involve civil, electrical and turbine installation works, and operations and maintenance service. Windflow will shortly start to engage locally with contractors for procurement.

Andy Strowbridge, Windflow UK’s General Manager, said:

We are delighted to be partnering with The North Harris Trust to bring this iconic community project to fruition.  We realise that the spectacular location has a flip side, with difficult access and a truly challenging wind regime. Fortunately we have experience from other demanding sites where Windflow turbines operate.   We look forward to working with North Harris Trust and the local community to turn their wind into a long term legacy.”

Calum MacKay, Chair of The North Harris Trust said:

We set out in 2003 to develop the Monan site. Directors have worked doggedly to find a way through the many set-backs thrown their way. After over ten years, it looks as though this year we will see turbines on the site. This project will bring much-needed new income to the Trust and the local community.”

Windflow UK Limited sells, builds, owns and operates wind projects, and is wholly owned by Windflow Technology Limited, the New Zealand based manufacturer of mid-size wind turbines.

The North Harris Trust was established in 2003 to manage the 26,000 hectare North Harris Estate on behalf of the local community. It is run by a team of locally-elected volunteer directors and is involved in a variety of community development activities.

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Micro-hydro is feasible on the Maraig river

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Following a number of months work by Highland Eco Design, we finally have confirmation that a micro hydro-electric scheme on the river at Maraig is feasible. Since Maraig and Rhenigedale were connected to mains water, the local treatment works at Maraig has stopped extracting water from the river. This gives the Trust the opportunity to take water for hydro-electricity.

The Highland Eco team have come up with a scheme that fits a number of constraints – the biggest being the national grid. As most people will be aware, there is a freeze on all large-scale renewable energy projects in the Western Isles. All such projects hinge on the undersea cable being installed to Ullapool. Whilst there is no firm date for this, we have to limit ourselves to micro-generation schemes that are under the 50kW limit. Despite the Maraig river being capable of powering a much larger turbine, we now have details of a 50kW scheme that could be extended when the under-sea cable is commissioned. This comprises a small weir and intake next to the Rhenigedale turn below the old water treatment works and a turbine house down near the shore on the Eilean Anabaich side of the footbridge.

We submitted a screening request to the council (13/00615) in December. This will give us an idea of what environmental survey work we have to carry out before we can submit a full planning application. As at Bunavoneader, we think we will have to carry out a fish survey and an otter survey. These can’t be completed until early summer when the water levels drop.

In the mean time we have an application pending to help fund the remaining feasibility work required to confirm viability and allow us to submit applications for Planning, Grid Connection and SEPA Licence.

Details of the feasibility work to date is available HERE and artists’s impressions of the building and intake  HERE (1.4Mb)

The work to date has been funded by the Outer Hebrides Community Energy Fund and its managers:

 

 

 

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Deer numbers down in North Harris

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At the end of November, we took part in a Harris and Lewis deer count. Scottish Natural Heritage organised two helicopters to cover the various estates over three days. The weather conditions were not the best, with high winds and low cloud threatening to cancel flying each day. Each helicopter had a pilot and navigator, then squeezed in the back were two spotters and a recorder. The data gathered has now been transposed into a thorough report which we have just received.

The results of the count in North Harris show that numbers are lower than expected. Stags numbers are down by 36% and hinds 24% on the last count. The herd is still well distributed throughout the estate, but the majority of beasts were found well away from roads and from the disturbance of walkers. Deer were mostly seen in small mixed groups. The lateness of the rut last year has meant that the Stags are still with the groups of hinds and calves.

The count informs the decisions we make about future cull targets. It will allow us to better target the most suitable beasts for culling. The aim is to maintain a balanced population. With SNH and the North Harris Stalking Club’s help, we can apply industry best-practice to the management of our herd. In keeping numbers at the appropriate level we can also protect valuable habitat.

The survey was funded by SNH with a modest contribution from each of the estates involved.

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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 www.harrismountainfestival.com for updates, find us on Facebook and Twitter, or send an email to info@harrismountainfestival.com to be added to our email distribution list.

Feel free to share the news!

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Roaring and Rutting at Cravadale Guided Walk

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Tues 29th October 10am-2.30pm

Roaring and Rutting at Cravadale

Meet: Start of track on right just to the east of Amhuinnsuidhe castle (NB 052 077), Distance: 6 miles

Level: Grade B

A chance to experience the incredible spectacle of the red deer rut, each stag fighting to defend its harem of hinds. The walk will take you into Glen Cravadale, a spectacular glen that has been shaped by the scouring action of glaciers.

 

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Roaring and Rutting at Langadale Guided Walk

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Sat 26th October 10am-2pm

Roaring and Rutting at Langadale

Meet: at Bogha Glas car park (NB 185 115), Distance:  6 miles

Level: Grade B

A walk to Glen Langadale to experience the roars of red deer echoing around the Glen. This is a chance to learn about the life of our largest land mammal and the management of the North Harris deer herd.

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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.

Documents:

Floorplan    Siteplan   Design

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