Locogen won the Best Community Engagement Award at the 2017 Scottish Green Energy Awards for their Ben Mor Hydro 500kW shared ownership project. The award, presented at the EICC in Edinburgh, adds to the Business Growth award Locogen won in 2015.
The project, which started in 2011, was originally a joint venture between Coigach Community Development Company (CCDC) & Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) with the aim of developing a ‘run of river’ hydro project near Achiltibuie, NW of Ullapool. The project achieved planning consent in 2014 and Locogen were then appointed as project managers & owner’s engineer early in 2015 to take the project through the construction phase.
Towards the end of 2015 it became clear that CCDC and SWT could not commit additional funds to the project due to the outstanding property and crofting law issues and a fast approaching FiT deadline that looked likely to be missed. Keen to see the development through to its fruition, and off the back of the strong partnership established between Locogen, CCDC and SWT over the previous 12 months, Locogen agreed to enter into a shared ownership arrangement with CCDC & SWT to deliver and operate the project. Locogen provided the capital and expertise needed to resolve the issues and build the project, whilst providing an ongoing share of revenue for the life of the scheme to CCDC & SWT. The project started construction in May 2016 and was commissioned in December 2016. It is predicted to generate 72.5GWh over its >50-year operational life offsetting 39,295t of CO2.
The project benefits the local community by providing a secure revenue stream for the life of the scheme. The funds, amounting to over £1m, will be reinvested in the local community via new initiatives which will ensure the ongoing sustainability and enhancement of the local area.
Ian Muir, CCDC’s Chair, said “this is an outstanding example of a 6-year project that was started by an exemplar community organisation, striving to develop green energy projects to generate income for the benefit of all. The project was then seen through to its completion by a commercial developer who was as equally driven, building on the strong relationship already established through their previous engagement with the community. It’s a fantastic result for us all!”
Andrew Lyle, MD of Locogen, said “this is a great example of how developers can partner with communities to deliver long-term green energy projects that will provide a secure revenue stream for the local community for over 50 years. The development was exceptionally challenging to deliver within a tight timeframe and everyone involved in the scheme can be proud that it has now been recognised by the industry as an exemplar community project.”
Susan McKenzie, Director of Finance & Resources, Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “I’m delighted the Ben Mor Hydro scheme has been recognised as an exemplary community engagement project at the 2017 Green Energy Awards.
“The Trust’s vision of a sustainable income stream delivered through a micro-hydro scheme was developed over a number of years in partnership with Coigach Community Development Company. Against tight deadlines, and with increasing levels of financial risk, a serious decision had to be made about the project’s future at the end of 2015. The agreement negotiated with Locogen has freed the Trust from future risk and day-to-day management responsibilities, while allowing us to retain a percentage of the future income.
“All income we receive from the project is used locally to support our work within Coigach & Assynt Living Landscape. This is a unique community partnership led by the Trust, which aims to bring environmental and economic benefits to an area that is blessed with some of the most dramatic and instantly recognisable landscapes in the British Isles, and some of our rarest and most endangered habitats.”