West coast village launches 'UK’s largest community-owned hydropower scheme'

A community on the west coast of Scotland has officially launched what is understood to be the UK’s largest community-owned hydropower scheme.

The Barr River scheme was completed in July on a forest site 11 miles from the village of Lochaline.

Friday marked the opening of two further community-developed facilities - a community hub and new housing.

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The projects have been delivered by the Morvern Community Development Company (MCDC) with support from local development officer, Lilia Dobrokhodova, whose post is funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The Barr River hydropower scheme was completed in July on a forest site 11 miles from the village of Lochaline. This week marked the opening of two further community-developed facilities - a community hub and new housing.
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The hydropower scheme is 100 per cent owned by the community and is expected to generate sufficient power for more than 1,000 homes.

Dobrokhodova said: “2021 has been an exceptional year for us with the completion of three major projects that are already providing tangible benefits to the community.

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“It is great to see the years of planning come to fruition, despite the added challenges of the pandemic. As the largest community-owned hydro scheme in the UK, it is a project that we are rightly proud of, and one that offers huge future potential to the community.”

Initial support for the project was secured through the Scottish Government's Community and Renewable Energy Scheme. The final funding package of £6.5 million also included just over £2.2m from the Energy Investment Fund, which is administered by Scottish Enterprise on behalf of the Government.

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Work on the community hub, which includes workspace and a cafe, finished earlier this year and it opened to the public in July. Three one-bedroom houses were also completed, and the new tenants have moved in.

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