Lochaber residents and visitors to get hydro shares opportunity

A public meeting about the new community hydro power project was held earlier this month. NO F52 Lochaber hydro scheme

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Lochaber residents and visitors will be invited early in the new year to buy shares in a new hydro electricity scheme in in Glenachulish.

The community shares offer comes from Lochaber Environmental Group (LEG), which has grasped the chance to take on the building and running of a hydro-electric scheme in Glenachulish that will benefit many more environmental projects for the people of Lochaber.

A public drop-in information session held at the Dragon’s Tooth golf course clubhouse and cafe earlier this month attracted more than 20 interested people, mainly residents of Glenachulish.

The evening, coordinated by LEG, gave the community a chance to look at
the proposed route and infrastructure for the 544kw scheme to be constructed on the Abhainn Greadhain Burn.

The scheme actually received planning permission almost three years ago, and has all the relevant licences in place but it had not been taken forward by the original developers.

Staff and volunteer directors from LEG were on hand at the meeting to answer questions and, overall, a lot of positive feedback was received.

Plans are now under way to raise the funds for what will be called Lochaber Community Hydro. In line with other successful community-owned hydro schemes in Scotland, LEG says residents and visitors to Lochaber will be offered the chance to buy ‘community shares’ early in 2020 to help
fund its construction.

‘We are very excited to have been offered this opportunity to take on the development of a community-owned hydro for Lochaber,’ said LEG chairperson Marian Austin.

‘We hope Lochaber residents and visitors will jump at the chance to
support environmental projects across the area by buying community shares in the hydro.’

LEG is now in the process of creating ‘LEG Power’ – a new society which is allowed to raise the required funds by offering community shares. This is a practical way of supporting a local business that serves the community and whose primary motivation is different from that of shareholders in companies because financial motivation is at best secondary.

Community shares cannot be transferred between people. Instead, the society allows shareholders to withdraw their share capital, subject to terms that protect the society’s financial security.

All community shareholders have one vote, regardless of the size of their shareholding, so LEG Power will be truly democratic.

Any shortfall in the funds raised from the community shares offer will be financed by commercial loans. Importantly, net profits will be handed to LEG to ensure maximum community benefit with the majority of payments used to fund more environmental initiatives locally.

A feasibility study has confirmed the viability of the hydro scheme at Glenachulish and permissions are already in place.

Work is now under way to confirm the design details and the lease of the land from Forestry and Land Scotland.