A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

Posts tagged ‘green energy’

Applecross Primary School visits Applecross Hydro.

(Written on Thursday although posted Today) A quieter day where I went up to the Turbine House.


This is the anchor point where the pour is happening tomorrow. And at the site was it was alive with a very attentive Primary School in tow.


They had come up to see the turbine now bolted in position.



Mick explained how the turbine worked and showed them the inside workings of the Pelton wheel.




Teacher had a look as well.


Even had a wee stop for lunch


and Dougal was not always in the background.


The children were asked if they could think up a name for the turbine and immediately had some response



Percy Pelton being one and discussions began. Outside to see where the water was going after it was through the turbine, the tailrace, not yet dugout and piped. They were asking very astute questions and Mick was really impressed at how quickly they picked up on the workings and the green angle and it seems they went back to the school all excited about how they were going to raise money for a share.


Thinking afterwards, I wonder if any one will be sparked by the visit today and become a renewable engineer or stay around and be involved in a project that the money generated from the energy will set up.


Although there is a lot of time pressure on the job there is nothing that is looking built in a hurry. Everything is solid, good build and substantial.



From here it was down to the bonfire site with a load of waste wood and the Inn in the evening to a lock up shift, a nice early one and home before twelve.

Green Energy and a Catchup.

Three days of fairly miserable weather has meant a slip back into a bit of winter despond and not a lot of activity.


Some but not a lot. Even although it has been fairly mild we have gone through a lot of wood and had to catch up with some more cutting and stacking. The beech has done its four seasons so nice and seasoned. We had Bill Hall in to do a survey of the schoolhouse to see if we can go greener and cheaper. Now is the time to do it as it is in the mindset and unlike Paul over at Arnish I do not have the “do it yourself”skills.. In my case it is Bill who is doing the work, some one you trust and knows what he is talking about. We are intending putting a 300 litre tank in and linking it with a heat pump and a couple of thermal panels, maybe swivel frame in the garden. Applecross Energy Efficiency https://www.facebook.com/ApplecrossEnergyEfficiency along with the Flensburg students deserve a mention in all of this as with out their input and presence we may have put off the decisions for another year. Interesting that a few nights ago when speaking to Wulf and Bernd they were saying that there is a different mindset with them back home. They think green and it becomes part of their lives  just as we pick up the phone to order more coal and oil. As well as the green element to our heating we are hoping to cut our annual electric bill down to below £500 per annum. We are still going to have to spend to get this result and Bill is away designing a system and a quote for us as the next step. Sign of the weather I went back to baking a couple of loaves for the Thursday lunch.


The fascinating shift on Sunday continued into Monday morning when going onto Facebook the first picture that comes up is the Zephyr alongside Oban pier.


I do not remember these boats as ring netters but do recall them  when they were moored up in Kyle for the weekends after they were converted to the trawl and were after the fish and prawns. They would be tied up alongside the Heather Bloom and the Heather Sprig. Any comment on Facebook leads on to more and more. The next picture of interest was the Johan on the beach at Ullapool before she headed south to Brighton.


Then a photo of the Fortitude which neighboured the Misty Isle and came from Kyleakin. You can see Castle Moil in the background.


Owners were Evander and Alistair Macrae. These pictures are being put up by Angus Macsween on Facebook and are a great door into the past.

It now being Thursday afternoon and having no time to do everything on hand, just a quick tidy up and off out to more wood, a shift at the Inn and to the Hall to see and listen to the students’ presentation. Last night finished at 3.30am for me , very uncharacteristic, and also, shockingly, had some whisky coloured water to boot. A bit strange as the last two drams have been Irish and Japanese. The company after the inn was along the Street where there was a gathering of old friends and new ones were made as well. Lots of catching up, fifteen years, and the evening/morning was very political as well as friendly. Strong but friendly exchange of views with two Yeses, two Nos and two observers. Enjoyable with little point scoring before 2am, kept trying to leave but gave up for a while around 1am. So a little sleep deprived, the pier beckoned, for prawns to the Inn, a few for lunch, and some mussels for the other part of lunch. It was wet this morning.



But in typical fashion brilliant sunlight for the afternoon, and windy of course. Up the road to restart the Filling Station after last night’s power cut, although working the flashing red light on the tower does not inspire confidence, but then does anything about Gilbarco do that?


A chat about The Trust meeting tomorrow to be held in Inverness, I have decided not to go as I feel I have been put in a box with such a negative spin on it that it is best for input from outside to show how things can go ahead with some meaningful partnership. Sometime a genuine partnership will have to be tried out, not one that just ticks a box to attract a funding package. Top of the community list is still housing and a partnership around housing would be a win/win solution. Then a lovely lunch of the mussels and langoustine, a walk in the sunshine and now it is evening.

Land and Water.

Alison was invited to a meeting of the Scottish Affairs Committee held in Inverness, the subject being land reform. Sounded really interesting and if nothing else I have learned about Chatham House Rules, under which conditions the meeting was held. Seems one can use the information from the meeting as long as you do not reveal the identity or the affiliation of the speaker. Here goes, no names or areas and generalisations all round but it still sounds fascinating all the same. Tenant farming featured large in the discussions with some fairly grim statistics. Interesting how land owners get around various legislation by giving out 364 day leases so hold the tenant in their thrall. One of the results of this is there is no grant money available to the tenant as they generally need five-year leases to comply with grant stipulations. Result is a continued degradation of the farm that is being tenanted. Also a story of a farm that is now surrounded by derelict farm buildings of the now defunct farms, derelict because of a completely disinterested landlord, with the result that the PO and shop was closed with the school in danger. There was interest from people wanting to work the farms but there were no leases available. There were submissions from a biodiversity point of view showing how the mono culture of red deer was so detrimental to the environment across the Highlands. These Committees meet to hear the problems and there may be amazing stories out there to counter this evidence but interestingly enough there was constant reference to the Scandinavian land models. Seems there are few ecology based jobs to the east as the smaller landholdings are worked and bio diversity is regarded as important to those that live and work the land.  Always aware they may have their own problems but when you hear that Danes can buy up a Scottish estate, pay no tax in this country, but are taxed in their own country for land they own here, sort of crazy one thinks. Land tax?? In our circumstance the most worrying case was stated by a community group who were constantly struggling to survive and it was suggested almost that it was too late, with so few people of a young enough age still in the area to turn the decline around. Sometimes when the mood is not as it should be you remember many more people staying in the community and far more children in a two teacher school. Often feel we have built up a false sense of security based on one industry….tourism. However over night things can change and the horizon can look so different, here it would be the reopening of the Kishorn Yard. Yesterday, all I did was go to the shop.


Today we met up with Duncan and Mick from Highlandeco and Felix from CES and it was certainly absorbing and so much to take in. As I was heading up to the Inn to discuss hydro could not help seeing the result of all the overnight downpours. The little stream, Alt na Chriche,


that was part of the first desk top study that can produce 50kw was flowing well, as was “our” stream.


Any one that says being a director is a status symbol should have been there today. So much community level information and decisions to make but it was very uplifting to hear about the possibilities of using local power from a local green source and not giving up despite of the set backs we come across when dealing with the likes of SSE. Just a thought that crossed my little brain ….would it not be good to convert a company like SSE to putting the common good/weal in front of maximizing profits for shareholders. This would not mean they cannot make a profit but change the direction of their headlong plunge down the road of continually augmenting their assets and profits year on year. Back to the theme of lots of little energetic companies, like Highlandeco instead of these over large oligopolies that suppress fragile communities because there is not enough profit for them to bother with. So our discussions revolved around preaccreditation of FITs, CAR licence variations, the size and out puts of the turbines, control systems and generators. The loss 5% in the value of our FITs if we change the size in the future offset by the increased power sales by using the extra generated power in the vicinity of the turbine. How to set up the local power net work. The incentive for people to sign up, long but interesting conversations.


The meeting was broken up by lunch during which I went down to the Bay with Dougal and Co,



having put them in the car as I had taken them up alongside the bike. Big winkle picking tide, hard, but strangely satisfying work.


Evening and the dogs are happy but no where to sit. And now it is another storm to sit through.


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