Community Barr Hydro Project Update up to 30th June 2020 – please follow this link
Press Release 22th June 2020
Lochaber community hydropower scheme confirms new finance
The Morvern Community Development Company has worked with Triodos Bank UK and the Scottish Investment Bank to secure a new finance arrangement to support the development of a high-head (142m) hydropower scheme on the Barr River near Loch Teacuis, Morvern in Lochaber, Scotland.
Once installed, the scheme is expected to have a 1.6MW capacity and to generate approximately 4,269,000 kWh each year – enough to power over 1000 homes*. It will take approximately 14 months to build and is expected to operate for at least 50 years.
The community has been exploring the potential for a shared-ownership hydropower scheme since 2013. Now this new finance will help with the construction and operation of the hydropower scheme by MorVolts Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Morvern Community Development Company (MCDC), a registered charity that aims to benefit the community of Morvern.
Jane Stuart-Smith, Chair of the Morvern Community Development Company, said: “We are delighted to have reached financial close and can now begin building the scheme. Getting to this point has taken a huge investment of local volunteer effort sustained over many years.
“Morvern is a delightful place to live and work but it faces challenges to maintain a sustainable community in a remote rural community location. MCDC has a strong track record in creating and delivering local infrastructure projects. The income from the scheme will be an important source of investment into the local development priorities. There is an increasing focus on community involvement in energy networks. The scheme also gives the Morvern community a strategic stake in the energy supply on the peninsular.”
£6.49 million of funding has been secured in total for the project, made up of a £4.26 million Triodos Bank loan and £2.23m from the Energy Investment Fund, which is administered by the Scottish Investment Bank on behalf of the Scottish Government.
Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, said: “I am pleased that Morvern Community Development Company’s MorVolts Barr Hydro scheme has reached financial close. Morvern are a fantastic example of what an empowered community can achieve, with a great track record in project delivery and actively engaged in planning for their future.
“The Scottish Government through our Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) delivered by Local Energy Scotland, has been assisting Morvern since 2014, providing both advice and funding support and I am pleased our Scottish Investment Bank has been able to contribute £2.23 million through the Energy Investment Fund to make it happen.
“At 1.6 MW, the scheme is, I understand, the largest hydro in the UK to be entirely community-owned and that is a tremendous achievement for Morvern. I am also really delighted that all profits from the project will be channelled back into the community to support local priorities and, I am sure, this will make a real and positive difference to the lives of local people and this is why we are keen to see more projects such as this.”
MCDC are committed to managing community assets for the benefit of local people and the wider public. They aim to help provide recreational facilities and activities, to advance community development and to enable the area’s environment, culture, heritage and history to flourish.
Philip Bazin, environment manager at Triodos Bank UK, said: “This is a great example of a community energy project – bringing people and organisations together to do something for both people and planet. It is encouraging to have success stories like this right now of people coming together to overcome the challenges brought about by the current crisis.”
Many different groups have come together to make this work, including the Scottish Government, Scottish Investment Bank and Forestry Land Scotland.
Kerry Sharp, Director, Scottish Investment Bank, said: “Scotland has been harnessing the power of water through hydro-electric schemes for more than one hundred years, particularly in the Highlands where hydro has been crucial in connecting remote rural communities to the grid.
“As well as being a big part of Scotland’s energy past, the support for the Barr River project proves that hydropower can be a major part of Scotland’s energy future. We’re genuinely excited to help MCDC continue to capitalise on Morvern’s natural and built environment for the benefit of the local community.”
About the Scottish Investment Bank
The Scottish Investment Bank (SIB) is the investment arm of Scotland’s national economic development agency, Scottish Enterprise, operating Scotland-wide in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
SIB’s activities support Scotland’s SME funding market to ensure businesses with growth and export potential have adequate access to growth capital and loan funding. It helps ambitious Scottish companies get the right level of funding from the right sources at the right time, through building relationships with both domestic and international investors.
SIB manages a suite of co-investment funds including the Scottish Co-Investment Fund, the Scottish Venture Fund and the Energy Investment Fund on behalf of the Scottish Government. SIB is also an investor in Epidarex Capital’s Life Sciences Fund and administers the Scottish Loan Scheme, with funding secured from the Scottish Government’s Scottish Growth Scheme.
Furthermore, SIB provides funding into LendingCrowd, Scotland’s marketplace lender providing loans to SMEs, and Maven’s Regional Buyout Fund (MBO) that offers financial support for management buyouts (MBOs) and helps existing management teams acquire businesses from their owners so they can continue to flourish.
SIB’s team of financial readiness specialists help companies prepare for new investment and access appropriate finance.
About Triodos Bank
Founded in 1980, Triodos Bank has become a frontrunner in sustainable banking globally. As an independent bank that promotes responsible and transparent banking, it does not see any conflict between a focus on people and the planet and a good financial return. Instead it believes that they reinforce each other in the long-term.
Triodos Bank has banking activities in the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Spain, Germany and France as well as Investment Management activities based in the Netherlands and active globally. Triodos Bank co-founded the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), a network of 54 sustainable banks. Together these banks want to grow sustainable banking and its impact on the real economy substantially.
Triodos Bank UK Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Triodos Bank NV. Registered Office: Deanery Road, Bristol, BS1 5AS. Registered in England and Wales Company No. 11379025. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority under registration number 817008. VAT reg no 793493383.
Update 9th June 2020
Our original proposal for Workers accommodation has changed. DA Macdonald workers have been booked into an Ardtornish property for the month of June under strict COVID – 19 operating procedures which have been agreed with the Authorities.
MorVolts approved this change because the contractors provided evidence that the Highland Council Trading Standards department had examined and approved this system for a similar situation (single bedroom with staggered use of kitchen and other shared spaces) in Roybridge. MorVolts checked with Police Scotland in Strontian who confirmed that if it was accepted by the Highland Council Trading Standards, than it was OK with them. They also confirmed that they would monitor the Social distancing aspect of it all.
A small team has now made a start at Barr, setting up the site. Work will start in earnest next week and we will keep you posted with more updates as they arise.
The MorVolts Board.
30th May 2020
TO: The Morvern Community
Firstly, we would like to say a very big thank you to Isla Mackechnie, whose art work won our competition and resulted in our new LOGO – displayed for the first time here (left). We hope you all like it!
We signed off on financial close on Thursday the 28th May 2020.
Financial Close means that all key finance, legal, supplier and construction contracts are in place and signed. All that remains is to build the thing! – to a very tight time schedule and with the added complication that COVID-19 presents. We plan to start on site preparation on Monday 1st June. The main contractors, DA Macdonald Contractors Ltd (DAM) from Lochgilphead and RTS Forestry from Perth will mobilise on the ground on Wednesday.
We are aware that there may be some concerns about starting a major construction project during the Covid pandemic so we thought it would be valuable to let the community know what arrangements have been put in place to minimise the risk to the community from the project.
The first thing to say is that all the arrangements for the works will comply with both the letter and the spirit of the Scottish Government (SG) regulations and guidance. Our project was already classified by SG as essential work but is now also allowed under phase 1 of the SG road map as an outdoor workplace with physical distancing. As such, our landlords, Forest and Land Scotland, have approved our plan to start work.
John Heaton from Glen Hydro, our project manager has agreed Covid management plans with the main contractor and forestry contractor and all three companies have published agreed method statements dealing with the COVID-19 situation. These are available to view below. We aim to update this page with new information on the project from time to time. Updates will also be posted there from time to time.
The hydro site is remote from any other habitation on the peninsular. The work teams will be fully self-contained so contact /mixing will be kept to an absolute minimum. The shop will offer to open an account for DAM and agree a delivery policy (maybe twice weekly deliveries to an agreed isolated collection point). MCTC fuel will be available if required with strict hygiene practice in place. In terms of the welfare of the workers on the site, the main contractor, D A Macdonald, has put arrangements in place to maximise social distancing and hygiene. Where work cannot be carried out with social distancing, they will ensure that any risk of the virus spreading is kept to a minimum. The living arrangements on site will comprise individual, self-contained living spaces which will remove the need for shared spaces such as canteens.
Under normal circumstances, Directors of MorVolts would attend site meetings and carry out site visits. We will carry out all meetings remotely. The project manager and other people will only visit the site when strictly necessary and will ensure that all social distancing and hygiene rulers are applied.
Public Access. Members of the community walking or cycling to Barr are requested to follow any access restriction signs required by and associated with the project. Otherwise, the main road/track, from Arienas to and across the bridge at Barr then heading for either Mungasdail by the post road or Dorlin, will be usually open and available. We would ask members of the public to avoid entering the Site Office and accommodation area on the left-hand side as you approach the bridge at Barr from Arienas. We would also ask that you don’t turn left at the bridge, heading for Barr house and beyond into the heart of the construction site. It will greatly help the contractors if that could be avoided.
If you have any concerns or questions of any sort about the project, your main line of contact should be through Lilia and/or the board of MorVolts, Angus, Nick and Sarah on 01967 421783 or email@example.com They will respond to community enquiries. All contact with the Project Manager, Contractors and Suppliers should, where possible, be through them.
We hope this gives everyone assurance that we have done everything possible to minimise the risk to the community and at the same time make sure we don’t lose this significant opportunity for the community.
Thank you from Lilia and the MorVolts Directors