A community group in Lochgoilhead has secured £740,000 backing to invest in a new hydro scheme, giving them a regular income for the future.
The backing is from the Scottish Government’s Renewable Energy Investment Fund, delivered by Scottish Enterprise. The funding will enable the community group to obtain a 20 per cent stake in the £3.7m hydro development.
The 1.35MW hydro project is being built by Broadlands Energy [Donich] Ltd on the Donich Water with the land being leased through a deal with Forest Enterprise Scotland and Scottish Water.
Welcoming the investment, Fergus Ewing, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity said: ‘This project is a brilliant example of public bodies working together to enable communities to invest and benefit from renewable energy schemes. It is exactly the sort of approach I hope to encourage and nurture as Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy.
‘I am delighted that the Scottish Government is contributing to the funding of the Donich scheme – the first Forest Enterprise Scotland shared ownership project to secure REIF funding. This is great news for the community and the local rural economy.’
Construction work is already underway on the hydro scheme and when the project becomes operational around September this year, the community will start benefiting from revenue generated by the scheme and for the project’s lease period of 40 years.
Pete Clarke, Lochgoil Community Development Trust’s energy project leader said: ‘This is a great opportunity for a small community to invest in a renewable project to develop the financial sustainability of the community and area.
‘It also gives us the chance to contribute to an environmentally sustainable future not just for our small corner of Argyll, but for the planet.’
The Renewable Energy Investment Fund [REIF] which provided the financial assistance for the community also actively supports other projects such as district heating schemes and marine energy.
Andrew Smith, Head of REIF said: ‘Shared ownership is at the forefront of our agenda, and this is a great example of how collaborative working involving private and public partners makes projects happen. This project will secure significant income for the community for the lifetime of the project.’
Archie Macgregor, Scottish Water’s Land and Property Development Manager, said: ‘Engaging with communities to enable sustainable local development is a key part of our Vision to be trusted to serve Scotland. Scottish Water is absolutely delighted to be associated with this innovative and ambitious initiative by Broadlands Energy, Forest Enterprise Scotland and the people of Lochgoilhead.’
The Scottish Government’s Community And Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) team also assisted the Lochgoil Community Development Trust with advice and financial support to secure the REIF funding package.