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

Posts tagged ‘renewable energy’

Glen Wyvis’ “Flying Farmer”

Going back a little further in my “wait for a part fortnight”. Seems it may be in Belgium on Thursday and Muir of Old by Saturday. Today is only the second day I have missed, still slightly frustrating, but the wood and paper work may all be done by then. Unfortunately our internet is down, we have been switched back to BT and for some reason our router is not picking it up, I’m in the Inn and Alison is at Kenny and Jill’s. So back to the missed day between Awards and breakdown, a helicopter trip round the Black Isle,

courtesy of PDG and the “Flying Farmer”, John.

Never met him before Iceland and now the third time in a couple of weeks…….just like buses. Only discovered there was a space for a passenger

and Jolene jumped at the chance.

Early start so sleep almost all the way and way back, but I think it went down quite well. John’s enthusiastic commentary was excellent and really informative, apart from Cromarty

I am not able to remember where the photos are,

telling us how locally sourced the barley was going to be, stored locally and malted locally, this as well as the renewable energy has persuaded me to add a little more to the investment that gave me the chopper ride. Local and sustainable distillery with the still and biomass boiler being fired up this week. Promise myself to call into the site itself sometime this winter, may even like the dram. Good to get back though.

Nordic Horizons Session

The room was full, around seventy odd, people standing at the back, and they came to listen to the Highlanders tell their community’s stories of their recent history and in some cases not so recent. The Glen Wyvis story went back to the Jacobites, but I digress. The videos will be out shortly. Maggie started the trio off after Kristin introduced the breakout session by telling us about Nordic Horizons which was set up in 2010 to learn and exchange knowledge from our near neighbours around the Arctic Circle. Over the years there have been 40 events learning about the Scandinavian experience in diverse subjects such as kindergarten, cycling, constitution and oil.

The name Eigg comes from Old Norse meaning the edge of a blade. Although I knew the background to the buy out it was interesting to hear first hand the transfer of the island from Schellenberg to Maruma and finally to the Community of Eigg. From degradation to mystery and finally to rejuvenation. The plans continue and currently they are investigating growing their community hub as its needs has outgrown its original structure. The story of their renewable energy system is immense and the combination of hydro, solar and wind for local use must be a way to go in many rural, remote communities. The most telling statistic of all is the population increase of around 60 during the buyout to over a 100 now. Huge amount of hard work, volunteering, and dedication has gone into the story and it is continuing. Listening to the story I could not help reflecting on what is happening back home and how the residents of Eigg talk naturally about Community Owned Assets. I think this very natural idea has not been accepted yet on our peninsula. I may be wrong and often am but I know that a number of our community desire and are very capable of running such assets and this is  one of the missed opportunities in the Trust Consultation. While I was involved it was brought up several times but never quite made it into any of the documents. I have since dropped out and this may have changed, but until the Community Company/Community has access to Community Assets we will not be able to replicate the wonderful work carried out on Eigg.

Next up was John,

the Flying Farmer, who is the powerhouse behind Glen Wyvis Distillery. Fascinating history of distilling around the Dingwall (another Norse name) and Black Isle area. This was followed by some professional videos and beautiful scenic views showing off the best of the Scottish wild landscape. I invested in the distillery some months ago and hearing about the renewable side to the venture I may put another sum into it as the plan is to produce around 500kWhs and have the operation run 100% on renewable energy. Do not know where John gets his energy from but it appears unlimited. I am taking two or three steps back and will be doing more of that in the near future, need to rejuvenate some energy from some where.

Alison was next up

and told the story of the Applecross Community Company, the Filling Station, the Broadband and the Hydro Scheme and possible future developments. Imagine if access to land was added to this list……..Needless to say that the session over ran but the interest stayed until the end, Eigg and Applecross are already on the map and are now known around the Arctic Circle and I would reckon there may be a wee spike in investments to the only renewable energy distillery at Glen Wyvis.

So our weekend draws to close and while waiting for Alison to meander through the Harpa shop a couple of American students struck up a lovely warm conversation which began by asking what I thought of our FM Nicola Sturgeon. They thought she was the best ambassador a country could have. Chatted for quite a while and the conversation ranged across all issues affecting land in Scotland to health in America. If they weren’t Socialists they were pretty close to it and it must be good for their nation to have sharp minds like theirs come to conferences like the Arctic Circle. They have a standing invite if they ever make it to Applecross and we left in good cheer.Walked down town

through the Flea Market and back up rather tired to the accommodation.

It must be good that people to know the positive steps taken forward by the communities in the Highlands and in our case despite the people in control rather than with their help. The evening ended with a late night wander through the town centre and back down to the Harpa Centre

thinking about all the folk we have met over the weekend, Rasmus, Anders, John, Maggie, Kirsty,

Graham and many others.

Going to be a tourist for the next three days and looking forward to it.

Community Hydro Running Smoothly

We can link in on-line to see how the hydro is doing and at the moment it is running very nicely after Mick’s last visit. We are looking for a long steady purple block running for a few days or even weeks now although there will undoubtably be little glitches now and again to sort. The line disappearing was the loss of pressure triggering the fail-safe shut down on Friday and then you see the restart. The next loss remains a bit of a mystery, it restarting and running around 5/10 kws. The head max and head readings are not true and have to be altered but it is lovely sight for the community.

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 11.32.02

Just going up to receive some fuel for the Filling Station so will nip up and check the pressure of the water tank. Weather poor but getting better and hope to be out tomorrow to keep the langoustines available.

Flensburg University come to Applecross.

Lovely quiet but cold morning with the Cullin looking close today and bonny with her snow cap.


February is going to see an influx of post grad students from around the world who are going to carry out a study in Applecross.  Alison saw a request from CES that the university were looking for field studies in this area but Knoydart were quicker of the mark and they went there last year and now it is our turn. They will be staying at the Clachan Manse and Brambles and hopefully they will feel welcomed by the community. Almost as important as the work they will do for us. Co-ordinating with Community Energy Scotland and Applecross Community Company they are going to carry out field research to assess Sustainable Energy Development Opportunities. The group consists of twelve students and three professors from the Energy an Environmental Management Master Programme at the University of Flensburg, Germany. Looking at the group that are coming over it is going to be a multi cultural event for Applecross. The students are from Africa, Asia, and Latin America learning current topics such as environmental management, renewable energy and project management and energy efficiency. Ghana, Nepal, Ethiopia, Indonesia and Iran are but a few of the countries who are going to visit. The International Class” is intended to give the students an opportunity to collaborate and work in the field with a community. After five weeks of work the study results  will be presented to the community. Having just seen the programme of what they are going to look at it appears to be very practical and not just an an exercise in academia. Suggesting energy efficiency alternatives for households, the environmental impact and the cost of implementing the measures. Energy supply from renewable sources and an environmentally friendly transport system.

This is a continuation of the work being done by AEE is raising awareness of our carbon footprint and at the same time maybe improving people’s standard of living by reducing their energy bills. www.facebook.com/ApplecrossEnergyEfficiency There a number of conversions to wood burning over the last wee while as evidenced by the increasing number of wood shed being erected around the community. As well as burning wood there have little courses explaining the science of drying the wood to get the optimum energy from the fuel. This has been the push behind getting a wood fuel supply set up locally as it ensures a supply for the wood stoves. The 300 tons from the Gateway woodland is looking smaller and smaller by the month. The idea behind the wood fuel chain is to persuade even more people to change to a better system but will need a consistent supply. This does not touch existing supplies but the demand could possibly encourage some employment. Recently been looking at some photos of Colin Parson’s in Achmore, using old ways with new technology. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Colin-Parsons-ForestryHorse-Logging/610273509040324We have tried to go down the greener road, air source heat pump


and burning more wood


and are looking forward to seeing how the students look at older,harder to insulate houses to see if they can be improved. One of my few influences on the ALPS programme was suggesting air source heat pumps to be installed at Clachan Church and it was good to hear a few comments as to how it was not as cold as it used to be at Norman’s funeral. I do fancy some solar thermal panels this summer to use on our water heating system, like the one fitted on the Public Toilets.


We already have a source of community transport if only we were allowed to use it, very frustrating.


It was interesting to see a woodland being worked such as Sleat, a felling programme, wood fuel for local consumption and the community benefiting from the profits. Lessons to be learnt across Scotland.

Cracking shift to-day, expecting it to be really quiet until the Lochcarron guys came over in the afternoon but from 12 noon onwards it was pretty nippy. Mainly because of a visit from Elgol in the shape of Alastair “Elgol”, fisherman extraordinaire and now moving into the chartering business. The slightly weird thing was that I was talking to Ewen about Alastair last night and out of the blue he turns up not having seen him for about ten or so years. Good to catch up as we have a little history. I first bumped into him working on the Achmore to Auchtertyre road, then Kishorn was the next meeting and then the most important as I bought a 32 foot Cygnus fishing boat off him, the Emma Goody. Swapped a few stories and memories and shared a tale of a decline of a valuable fishery. The weather has hit them bad on the west side of Skye, he was out one day in the whole of December. So with Alastair and Mark having a couple of pints, chatting in front of me, there were quite a few customers coming and going, so the multi tasking skills were called into action. Turns out that Mark has been in Elgol for two or three years and is working with Ian from Rum and Hebnet to get his internet improved as his animation photographic business depends on good connections. https://www.facebook.comthecuillincollective Interesting to me that going from half a meg up to six is obviously a huge improvement where as some moving here coming from twenty and having to deal with six would be disappointing. Every thing has different perceptions.   Same with hot water coming to the Public toilets, accepted as the norm everywhere else but here it is a huge improvement, mind you that goes for the rest of the building as well. Music kicked in at 3.00pm and after a plate of plaice and chips it was home by six.

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