Green Highland plans new hydro schemes

Green Highland Renewables said it will soon start work on a new hydro scheme at Loch Eilde Mor in the hills above Kinlochleven — just one of a number of projects the firm is looking to develop across the Scottish Highlands.

The £13.6 million Loch Eilde Mor project on the Rio Tinto estate will be fully funded by the hydro firm’s owners Ancala Renewables.

“This is a really exciting project and marks the start of an extremely busy two years for our firm,” said Green Highland Renewables chief executive Mark Mathieson.

“We have well over a dozen active schemes in our build pipeline with further investment to come, and the nature of our projects means the majority of expenditure goes on civil engineering, much of which is carried out by local firms.

“All of these schemes have secured a feed-in tariff from the UK Government, and the only sad note is that the recent cuts to hydro tariffs announced at Christmas mean we will see next to zero new Highland schemes come forward for construction from 2018 onwards. It will be the end of an era.”

The Loch Eilde Mor project will start later this month and part of the works access will be via a bridge over the River Leven which also forms part of the West Highland Way hiking route.

A temporary diversion has been agreed and the bridge will be ready for public use for those wanting to navigate the West Highland Way by the beginning of April.

“Kinlochleven is synonymous with hydro and most Scots will be aware of the importance of hydroelectricity to the people of Lochaber,” added Mathieson.

“For this scheme we have engaged with the Kinlochleven Community Trust and will be paying community benefit of £5,000 per megawatt installed.”

Mathieson said that in the last four years Green Highland Renewables has constructed and commissioned 25 schemes totalling 17 megawatts across the Highlands and invested £62 million in the process — with the majority of this investment going to local construction firms and contractors.

“Add to this the £25 million we have committed so far this year, and it is clear our hydro projects will make a significant positive impact on the Highland economy.”