Hydro boost for Highlands

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Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead, today announced that Green Highland Renewables Limited (GHR) is to explore developing small scale hydro schemes on the national forest estate in the northwest Highlands.

The area, which covers Inverness-shire, Ross & Skye, Lochaber and the northern Highlands, is the first of three lots that are open for small scale hydro development.

GHR will identify suitable schemes and potential sites for development, which if agreed by the Commission, can be taken forward by GHR through the development, planning and – if consented - construction phases.

Mr Lochhead  said:

"As part of the effort to develop a diverse, low-carbon economy, Scotland has committed to seeing renewables deliver 20% of our total energy used and 50% of our gross electricity consumed by 2020.

“Small scale hydro schemes can help to carry us towards that renewable energy future, but they bring many additional practical and tangible benefits to communities - from increasing the skills base for local trades, creating new jobs and bringing economic benefit.

“These schemes literally ‘empower’ communities by making them more self sufficient in meeting their own energy needs. But in also delivering leading edge community benefits of £5,000/MW, these schemes can give our rural economy a shot in the arm, empowering communities to take greater control of their own future.”

The move is part of Forestry Commission Scotland’s drive to ramp up its contribution to generating clean and renewable energy by developing more wind and hydro energy projects on its land.

Communities in the vicinity of operational projects will have the chance to invest in the schemes. 

 Alastair Riddell, Managing Director of GHR said:

 “As the leading developer of small scale hydro in Scotland we are delighted to be associated with Forestry Commission Scotland in this visionary project, assisting towards achieving renewable energy targets and in benefitting the communities in the northwest Highlands.”

Separate negotiations with other companies for the same small scale hydro development rights in two other ‘zones’ are at an advanced stage. The Commission is also involved in early stage negotiations with wind energy developers.

Notes to news editors

1. The national forest estate has considerable potential for hydro power generated from small, run-of-river schemes.  Sites that have already been developed are capable of generating 12.4 MW of power and schemes with the capacity to generate a further 11MW are either committed or under negotiation.  It is estimated that there is further potential of at least 50MW.
2.   For more information on wind and small scale energy projects on the national forest estate, please log on to www.forestry.gov.uk/windhydro. 
3.  The Climate Change (Scotland) Bill (see http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/s3/bills/17-ClimateChange/index.htm) aims to allow FCS to enter into joint ventures with developers and local communities to accelerate renewable energy developments on the national forest estate.

4.  Forest Renewables - the Commission’s internal business – will oversee all the work and manage the development of any hydro schemes developed on Scotland’s forests estate to ensure that the schemes help achieve the Scottish Government’s renewable energy policy and comply with the Scottish Forestry Strategy. Functions include negotiating and managing leases for wind and hydropower; negotiating joint ventures for wind and hydropower, representing the interests of FCS on these JVs; ensuring full compliance with development consent procedures; and ensuring that lessees and JVs promote community benefits.

5.  GHR was founded in 2007 with a strategy focused on developing hydro potential within the UK.  GHR predominantly focuses on the development of small scale run of river hydro schemes in the range 50kW – 2MW. The company is based in Aberfeldy, in central Scotland.  The Company is privately funded, including direct investment from Scottish and Southern Energy plc.  The board of directors consists of experts from the fields of power generation, property development, land agency, finance, corporate affairs and project management.
For more information on GHR please log on to www.greenhighland.co.uk.

6.  Media enquiries to Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0131 314 6508. For GHR, contact PR consultant Dick Playfair on 0131 445 5570 or 07776 282 700.

e-mail: steve.williams@forestry.gsi.gov.uk