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Energy firm SSE Renewables says it is extremely proud to have played a key funding role in the building of the new £1 million Cill Chuimein Medical Centre in Fort Augustus.
Through funds associated with SSE Renewables’ projects in the area, including Bhlaraidh wind farm and Glendoe hydro electric power station, SSE Renewables was able to provide £600,000, more than half of the funds needed to build the state-of-the-art medical facility.
The development and construction of the new centre, opened last Wednesday by Mairi Gougeon, Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, has been driven by Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston Community Company and is a perfect example of how communities can use renewables funding to help deliver sustainable, long-term benefits for their community.
Jim Smith, managing director of SSE Renewables, said the Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston Community Company has driven many fantastic projects in this community for more than a decade.
‘The team behind it are volunteers who dedicate their time and efforts into identifying innovative projects that will help drive long-term success for the area and I would like to thank everyone in the community company for their hard work to deliver this amazing and sustainable project,’ he said.
The new centre secures a much-needed local GP service to this rural area, avoiding residents having to travel to Fort William or Drumnadrochit for GP services, saving locals up to a 64-mile round trip for standard medical care.
Harry Whiteside, chairman of Fort Augustus and Glenmoriston Community Company, added: ‘As with any rural community, a medical centre is absolutely essential to the health and wellbeing of the people, and when our centre burned down we knew we had to do something.
‘It’s been just over two years in the making, and now we have a medical centre double the size of the last one, meaning more people can be seen in a day and allowing the centre to expand beyond just GP services into others such as podiatry and optometry.
‘We also have a lift in place, so the centre is now accessible to all, and we are trialling the new Near Me video consulting service as well.
‘None of this would have been possible without the help of all our funders, in particular SSE Renewables, who allowed us to draw down additional funding from the Bhlaraidh Wind Farm Fund, so we could bridge the final funding gap for this project and get it developed and delivered quickly.’
Now that the centre is up and running, it is expected it will secure up to 10 long-term jobs for the community.