Highland hydro scheme to pump cash back into the community

Allt na Falls will be the location of new community hydro project. Picture: Contributed
Allt na Falls will be the location of new community hydro project. Picture: Contributed
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A SMALL community in Lochbroom is launching a fundraising bid to build its own hydro scheme – and give the profits back to projects in the area.

BroomPower aims to raise £900,000 through a community share issue to finance building a hydro scheme at Lael, just south of Ullapool.

If successful, the volunteers who run the scheme hope the hydro will be built and generating power by the end of next year.

They plan to convert any surplus income from it to support community projects in the area.

A ‘Hydro Hoolie’ has just raised £25,000 towards the target.

READ MORE: Hydro firm invests £25m in the Highlands

The event welcomed more than a hundred guests to a dinner and ceilidh with a piper and local school children cutting a cake to open the evening.

It triggers the start of a campaign to attract individuals and organisations to take a unique opportunity and invest in a scheme with environmental and social rewards.

Tim Gauntlett, Chair of Lochbroom Community Renewables Ltd which runs BroomPower, said: “We’re delighted at such an amazing start thanks to the generous spirit of local residents.

“We can’t do this alone though so I would urge anyone out there who loves the natural beauty of this area, supports renewable energy or wants to do something positive for rural communities to get in touch.”

“The scheme will produce energy that respects the environment and then convert its water power into an income stream for the community.

“For once we can all enjoy the benefits of the renowned west coast rainfall.”

The hydro scheme was initiated after a survey by the Ullapool Community Trust revealed there was strong support in the area for a community-owned renewable energy scheme.

BroomPower’s proposed project would be sited at the Allt a’ Mhuilinn burn which flows down through steep woodland, crosses under the A835 into the river Broom and then on into Loch Broom.

READ MORE: Highland hydro power schemes get £4.8m boost

BroomPower has to close its share issue at the end of August so an intense fundraising drive is planned to meet the deadline.

Mr Gauntlett said: “We have a huge task ahead but we also have a talented and committed team of local volunteers and we all passionately believe that the hydro will be a wonderful asset for future generations for many years to come.”

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