Highland community hydro project reaches £900,000 milestone

A MAJOR green energy scheme for the Highland town of Ullapool has reached its funding target of almost £1million.

The bay of Ullapool in the Scottish Highlands. Picture: Jon Savage

The scheme would see the hydro power of the Allt a’ Mhuilinn burn south of Ullapool used to generate electricity which would be sold to the National Grid, generating income for community projects.

The site is on the same river where Scotland’s very first hydro-electric scheme is thought to have been.

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It was operational in the late 1890s and owned by Sir John Fowler, the civil engineer most famous for his work on the London Underground and the Forth Bridge.

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Tim Gauntlett, Chair of BroomPower, said: “This is a magnificent result for the volunteer directors and supporters of BroomPower.

“The whole area of Ullapool, Loch Broom and beyond has responded to the call for community engagement and given this project a financial boost of confidence.

“It has ignited the imagination of people from across the UK and that also helped us to reach our target of £900,000. At a time of austerity and uncertainty, it is breathtaking that people have invested so much of their money.

“Maybe it is the simplicity of green energy, combined with a small community seeking to provide for itself, that has inspired investors”.

Sarah Donald, responsible for funding and communications at BroomPower, said: “Investing in BroomPower doesn’t just help the community by creating an independent stream of funding for local projects for years to come, it supports Scotland’s move towards renewable energy and makes sound financial sense too.

“There’s not many other places you can get a 4% return for your money.”

Investors bought shares with a minimum investment of £300, up to a maximum of £90,000.

The BroomPower hydro scheme is “run-of-river”, making use of the the steep hillside environment to generate the green energy, with the hope of reaching 100kw of power.

The steep terrain and wet climate make the spot ideal for hydro power – a fact that has already been proven with the system set up by Fowler primarily to run a sawmill on his Braemore Estate.

The area is home to a population of around 2,350 people so most local initiatives are run by volunteers and rely on fundraising to survive.