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Communities Urged to Boost Energy Security Via Micro Hydro Schemes on National Forestry Estate

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Communities across Scotland are being encouraged to talk to Forestry & Land Scotland (FLS) if they’re interested in exploring how a micro hydro scheme could benefit them.

Already 85 hydro schemes are hosted on land managed by FLS.

Seven of these are community-owned from Loch Broom and Mull to Raasay and Loch Lomond.

New micro hydro scheme which became operational in Sept 2022 © Raasay Community Renewables.

The others are a mix of private owners/operators and renewables developers.

Speaking about the potential for local communities across Scotland to boost their energy security via micro renewables, Malcolm Crosby, Renewables Project Manager said:

“Water is one thing that Scotland has in abundance and it’s also a potential source of clean, renewable energy that communities can harness to generate their own cheaper electricity.”

“Managing Scotland’s forests and land is a balancing act.

“The impact of a renewable energy scheme means every proposal has to be carefully considered and ultimately, the decision to give consent to a renewable energy project is taken by the relevant local planning authority.”

There are a number of initiatives designed to make it easier for businesses and communities to invest in local and small-scale renewables including buying or leasing land for community renewables.

Raasay Renewables is one such community-owned micro hydro scheme.

They secured a 40-year lease from Forestry and Land Scotland, via the Community Asset Transfer Scheme (CATS).

After a 5-year process to secure funding, consents and accreditations, Raasay now has two community-owned micro-hydro schemes, both of which started generating in September 2022.

Speaking about the project, Elizabeth Taggart, Raasay Renewables Development Officer said:

“The community asset transfer process with FLS was straightforward and we were supported by the FLS team and a dedicated Liaison Officer, throughout.

“We’re now setting up a community benefit fund and the community will have a say in how the funds are spent. 

“Building on our success, we are also now looking at novel ways of making the best use of the power we generate locally and developing other renewable projects elsewhere.”

FLS has a strong history of supporting both small scale community hydro schemes and larger commercial developments.

It has successfully worked with both professional developers and less experienced community groups.

The renewables team are always keen to explore opportunities on Scotland’s National Forests and Land.

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