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The people of Morvern have become the first community group in Scotland to invest their own money in a hydro scheme on land managed by Forestry Commission Scotland.
The move will provide the community with additional regular income when the hydro project, being developed by Perth-based Green Highland Renewables, is switched on later this year.
The 469kW scheme on the Abhainn Shalachain river could generate enough electricity to run 350 homes. The community on the remote Morvern peninsula has invested £30,000 into the development and it is hoped this step will spur on other communities across Scotland to consider taking a share in similar Forestry Commission renewable projects.
This hydro project is one of a number being developed by Green Highland Renewables and other energy companies as part of a renewables programme being promoted across land managed by Forestry Commission Scotland.
Welcoming the news, Environment and Climate Change Minister, Paul Wheelhouse, said:
“This is the very first direct investment by a community group into a hydro scheme being developed as part of Forestry Commission Scotland’s on-going renewables programme.
“As hydro schemes start to progress in other parts of the country, we are confident that the move taken by the Morvern community will act as a catalyst for others to take up similar opportunities.”
Ian Cartwright, Managing Director at Green Highland Renewables said:
“Small scale hydro schemes offer good long-term returns for investors and we are very pleased this project will be completed with direct investment from the community.
“Our goal is to become one of the leading owners and operators of small scale hydroelectric schemes in the UK and we look forward to developing this, as well as future hydro projects, in partnership with the community, the Forestry Commission and our funders Triple Point.”
Both the Morvern Community Development Company and Morvern Community Trust have been responsible for the investment.
Angus Robertson, lead MCDC director for this project and local hydro enthusiast said:
“Whilst the community would have preferred to have a larger sum to invest into this project, they were delighted to be involved and will give the project all its support though the construction phase and into the future.
“Morvern Community Development Company is grateful to Forestry Commission Scotland and all other Scottish Government agencies for their help in pushing this ground breaking project through.”
Through the Forestry Commission Scotland’s renewables programme, communities have an option of investing their own money into schemes for a regular income.
This investment can be in addition to taking the standard £5000 per annum per megawatt community benefit payment that is associated with renewable projects.
On this particular scheme, the community has also benefited from a five per cent free stake in the project and will be using this to obtain additional income.
Notes to editors
The scheme is being developed by a company owned by Perth based hydro-energy company Green Highland Renewables Ltd, with funds managed by Triple Point Investment Management.
For more information on wind and hydro energy projects on land managed by Forestry Commission Scotland can be found on www.forestry.gov.uk/windhydro.
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