SSEN to deliver £2million of strategic network investment to accelerate a green economic recovery on the Western Isles
Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution is set to accelerate £2m of investment in the local electricity network on the Western Isles, to aid a green recovery and provide additional capacity for low carbon projects that will help deliver net zero.
The investment programme will be focussed on upgrading the Clachan Primary Substation in North Uist, which connects to the island of Berneray in the north, and south across Benbecula towards South Uist, and will see the existing transformer replaced with two upgraded counterparts, which will increase the capacity of the network serving around 1,300 homes and businesses on the islands.
By creating 6.31MW of additional network capacity, this accelerated investment will support future growth and facilitate the progress of green projects and low carbon technologies across local communities on North Uist, South Uist and Benbecula.
Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL) is commencing a programme to replace small ‘loch class’ vessels serving the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry Services network. In line with Scottish Government climate change commitments, the programme aims to deliver low emission vessels utilising the latest proven battery and onshore charging technologies.
Jim Anderson, Director of Vessels at Caledonian Maritime Assets Limited said:
“This is welcome investment in island energy infrastructure by SSEN and potentially improves the feasibility of using electricity as an alternative to diesel fuel for new vessels. The viability of bringing more fully electric or hybrid ferries into the fleet will depend largely on the grid capacity of the islands they serve. Environmental considerations are a core part of our vessel planning process and we are committed to exploring new fuel technologies to reduce the impact of the maritime sector on the climate and help create a net zero emissions country.”
SSEN’s investment at the Clachan site will also ensure that the network is ready to support the islands’ transition to electric vehicles (EV), with increased EV demand expected on the islands of North Uist, South Uist and Benbecula.
In particular, the green recovery investment by SSEN will support the North Uist Development Company’s (NUDC) core aim to develop a sustainable and viable community, through the delivery of key development projects.
NUDC’s recent projects have included Uist Wind and being involved in Uist Energy in Motion, a project led by Urachadh Uibhist in collaboration with Community Energy Scotland and Cothrom, educating the local community about carbon emissions and how electric vehicles (EVs) could reduce carbon footprint on the islands, developing an owners’ forum for EV owners and encouraging future development and installation of two electric fast charge points on the island.
Dr Ameena Camps, Project Delivery Manager, North Uist Development Company, said:
"NUDC submitted a suite of grid improvement options to the Green Recovery call for evidence, working in collaboration with Coimhearsnachd Bharraidh agus Bhatarsaidh Ltd, Community Energy Scotland and Stòras Uibhist. We are very pleased SSEN will be investing at the Clachan Primary Substation, which is most certainly a step in the right direction to enable the realisation of the community's low-carbon transition aspirations in line with developing local energy plans. I hope this marks the start of a collaborative journey in partnership with SSEN to support further improvements across the Outer Hebrides with far-reaching benefits including reduced carbon emissions and alleviation of fuel poverty”.
This investment in the Western Isles is part of a £41m programme of strategic investment by SSEN which will unlock over 122MW of additional capacity across the north of Scotland and central southern England to drive green economic growth, create skilled jobs, and support the deployment of low carbon projects.
As part of scheme, SSEN will be installing approximately 1,000 low voltage monitors at key points across its two distribution network areas, providing near real-time visibility in areas where high levels of electricity demand from increased uptake of electric vehicles and electric heating is predicted. This will enable the network operator to better manage local infrastructure, identifying how best to optimise capacity.
SSEN's plans are part of a £300m programme of investment announced on Monday (24th May) by the energy regulator Ofgem.
Chris Burchell, Managing Director, SSEN Distribution, said:
“We are determined to play our full part in addressing the twin challenges of the economic and social recovery from coronavirus and the impending climate emergency, where local electricity networks will play a vital role. With COP26 on the horizon, today’s investment demonstrates how collaborative action and regulatory flexibility can help us achieve this aim and power change for our customers and society.
“The green recovery scheme provides a blueprint for future agile investment in our networks in the coming years, where rapid progress will be required to keep pace with net zero. By undertaking £40 million in strategic network investment now, we are helping unlock innovative low carbon projects at the right time, boosting local economies and supporting communities to achieve their net zero ambitions.”
Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport Michael Matheson said:
“Scotland is wholly committed to becoming a net zero economy by 2045 and doing so in a way that is just and fair for all. I strongly welcome this investment in Scotland’s energy networks, which will help our progress towards decarbonisation while ensuring that the economic and social benefits of the energy transition are realised across the country.
“We have worked closely with our stakeholders to support the strong and successful bids from Scotland’s network companies for this substantial funding. These projects and investments will support further innovation in green energy, unlocking capacity in our networks to support electrification of transport as well as other technologies like battery storage, renewables and heat pumps.
“This announcement by Ofgem is the product of an agile approach to investment and we must now build on this to ensure that our networks remain capable of supporting Scotland’s net zero transition.”
The full evidence gathered through the expression of interest process will be used to inform SSEN’s future plans, including preparation for the next price control RIIO-ED2 which starts in April 2023, and ongoing connections process.
To launch the community survey for the North Uist Environment Centre we are also launching the Environment Centre photography competition for your chance to have your photographs displayed in the permanent exhibition. See poster for more information.
Entries should be submitted by 11.59pm on Monday the 31st of May. Don't forget to complete the #communitysurvey too! #ForNature #northuist
Photography Competition Poster
On International Biodiversity Day, North Uist Development Company (NUDC) has launched the base plans and community survey for the new Environment Centre which is being developed in Lochmaddy, North Uist.
The plans have been developed with the designers Da Capo Limited thanks to funding from the Islands Green Recovery Programme. The next phase is to develop the content with the community's help, and are asking the local community - What should be included in your Environment Centre?
To input your ideas, follow the link to the survey @ www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/NUDC-DesignSurvey
Or, you can download the printed copy here and return to email@example.com
Da Capo Limited are working with NUDC to install the exhibition as soon as possible, so are asking for responses before 11:59pm on Monday 31st of May 2021. Please note the survey is now closed.
Don't miss out on the chance to shape this new exciting natural environment exhibition.
The concept of the Environment Centre originated from a Steering Group which explored the creation a Hebridean Archaeological and Environmental Research Centre (HAERC). A Feasibility Study was carried out by EKOS and completed in 2015 emphasising significant interest in the environment of the Uists by both locals and visitors. The North Uist community identified the Environment Centre as one of three priority projects which is highlighted in NUDC Local Development Plan 2018-2023. Again, during consultation for the 2018 feasibility study for the former Lochmaddy School re-development, the community ranked ‘Environmental Centre - Focus on Geology and Natural Environment’ first amongst options; with all subsequent consultation results since showing strong support. A separate survey with North Uist Primary School as part of the Uist Wind project also highlighted the younger generations concerns over damage to the natural environment with a need to protect it.
The former School is now in the hands of the community, thanks to the Scottish Land Fund, and funding has been acquired by the Islands Green Recovery Programme to design and install the exhibition space in the former sports hall/assembly room of the building. Your Environment Centre The new Environment Centre will be a new innovative facility showcasing the unique natural environment of the Uists and Barra, providing tourism information, a new visitor attraction and, acting as an educational engagement point demonstrating the importance of conservation practices for future generations. This will also act as a base for #voluntourism and #ecotourism as well as, incorporating a bouldering rock wall to encourage active outdoor lifestyles and environmental interaction in the comfort of an indoor setting.
The Environmental Centre is intended to:
• Celebrate Uist & Barra's magnificent natural environment.
• Fill the existing short-fall in readily available information including inter-relationships between various components of the natural environment.
• Provide an educational resource for schools.
• Provide a forum for community and visitors alike to engage meaningfully with the outdoors whilst minimising adverse environmental impact.
• Provide a forum for meaningful discussion of environmental conservation issues and identifying sustainable ways forward.
• Provide information on sustainable technologies and practices to help mitigate the climate emergency and promote a green recovery.
The motto for the wider development - the ‘Àrainneachd Àlainn’ Community Hub and Environment Centre - is ‘Our Island, Our Environment, Our future’, as the future is in our hands. The Environment Centre aims to empower our community and visitors to grasp the opportunities available to change our future.
North Uist Development Company (NUDC) is entering an exciting new phase. To shape its new future vision, NUDC is looking for fresh faces on its Board of Directors.
Are you passionate about North Uist? Do you get excited about what we can all achieve when we work together? Would you like to help shape the future of North Uist? If so:
Join us online for our Members' Gathering
Saturday 17th April at 6pm
Follow Zoom Link here
The NUDC Annual General Meeting (AGM) will provide an opportunity to find out more about current projects and showcase how you can get involved! This will then be followed by an exciting talk from Connie Dawson of NatureScot.
We are particularly keen to meet younger people in the community who would like to make a difference: after all, you are the future of North Uist! There’s even a position on the Board especially for someone aged 18-25 to represent the young people in the community.
The Gathering will start at 6pm, followed by Connie’s talk at 7pm. Follow the Zoom link here or dial in using: +44 330 088 5830 or +44 131 460 1196. Meeting ID: 844 2666 1782; Passcode: 537307.
Annual General Meeting at 6pm
1. Welcome and introductions
2. Approval of Minute of 2020 AGM, Annual Report and approval of Accounts for Year ending 31 March 2020. Appointment of Accountants.
3. Your chance to shape the future of North Uist - appointment of Directors.
4. Views of Members and plans for the coming year
5. Date of first meeting of New Board of Directors
Guest Speaker at 7pm
Ensuring a safe and resilient future:
adapting to climate change in the Uists.
Connie Dawson, NatureScot
Connie Dawson works for NatureScot leading on a climate change adaptation plan for the Outer Hebrides, along with the Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partnership and Sniffer. Her role involves coordinating with local government, organisations and communities to investigate and plan for the unique climate-related impacts the islands face. She’s passionate about raising the profile of existing local climate knowledge, action and resilience, of which the Outer Hebrides have a strong history.
Before moving to Lewis in 2021, Connie worked as Sustainability Coordinator for the University of St Andrews, where she completed a BSc (Hons) in Sustainable Development. She is also a Climate Reality Leader, trained by Al Gore, and was previously recognised as one of Scottish Wildlife Trust’s 12 Young Leaders for conservation. Connie’s personal motivation for climate action is in social equity, having a particular interest in ensuring disabled and vulnerable people’s rights within climate policy. She currently works from home in Stornoway with her two tiny dogs.
Connie’s presentation will talk about climate change trends, projections and impacts in the Outer Hebrides; what is involved in climate change adaptation; provide an overview of the adaptation plan she is working on, and next steps for the project, including how to get involved in the project and an opportunity for Members.
March 26 2021 marks the start of a new future for the North Uist Development Company (NUDC), as the organisation finally receives the keys of the former Lochmaddy Primary School on behalf of the community.
Lochmaddy Primary School was closed in 2016 along with Carinish and Paible, as pupils moved to a new single school site at Sgoil Uibhist a’ Tuath; following a council report in 2013. The School building on the edge of Lochmaddy village, was constructed in the 1970s, but the original building dates back to the late 19th Century, so it holds plenty of memories for generations of the North Uist community. Scottish Land Fund Stage 2 funding enabled the asset transfer.
Pam MacPherson, Director, North Uist Development Company, said: "It is so exciting, finally, to reach this stage and to have the keys in our hands. I can’t believe it is actually happening”.
“Over the last year NUDC have managed to get funding for the asset transfer, for an external COVID-19 resilient toilet block and for the Environment Centre exhibition”
We are working closely with the architect and the project managers to get the Community Hub and Environment Centre up and running as soon as possible”
The development plans for Phase 1 and 2 of the project include the Community Hub and, an Environment Centre which will be a new innovative facility showcasing the unique natural environment of the Uists: nurturing sustainable practices. The Community Hub enterprise will bring land and the building back into community use, while focussing on widespread community needs and benefits. It intends to provide a welcoming gathering place for the community and visitors, and an ‘incubator’ for learning and enterprise. Accommodation for visitors, students and temporary workers will be added in later phases of the project.
The top priority for NUDC is to reopen the former school building so the North Uist community can start using it once again. Rentable space will be made available, and there are already interested parties. The development will be undertaken in phases and will involve the community every step of the way. Further funding is currently being sought for Phases 1 and 2: including for renewable energy for heating and electricity to support the environmental ethos of the development and Scotland’s green recovery.
A further update on the Lochmaddy School project will be provided at the forthcoming NUDC Annual General Meeting, to be held online on 17 April. All members welcome!
NUDC is a community company and charity, established in 2010 to develop a sustainable and viable community by promoting the social, educational, cultural, economic and environmental wellbeing of North Uist. The company has been developed by its Members and is managed by a Board of voluntary directors.
NUDC’s work is guided by the North Uist Community Development Plan 2018-2023. In view of recent successes including the now operational UistWind project and now ownership of the former Lochmaddy School, this plan needs to be updated, to ensure it meets the needs of the North Uist community. As it enters this exciting new phase, to shape its future vision, NUDC would be delighted to welcome fresh faces on to its Board of Directors to contribute to that vision.
Andrew Ross, Director, North Uist Development Company said: “We are especially keen to hear from younger people in the community who would like to make a difference: after all, they will be the future of North Uist! “
Are you passionate about North Uist? Do you get excited about what we can all achieve when we work together? Would you like to help shape the future of North Uist for the benefit of the community? If so, we look forward to hearing from you.”
NUDC will also be starting some community engagement associated with the Environment Centre exhibition shortly, and the NUDC team are working tirelessly to move this forward as soon as possible.
NUDC gratefully acknowledges the support of Highlands and Islands Enterprise through their HIE Community-Led Tourism Infrastructure Fund and Delivery Resource Officer fund; the Scottish Land Fund and the Islands Green Recovery Programme.
More details can be found at www.isleofnorthuist.com.
You can now apply up until the 25th of January 2021 for NUDC's 3 month vacancy for a project manager for the Àrainneachd Àlainn’ Lochmaddy Community Hub and Environment Centre.
The Project Manager will deliver the next steps in the project which includes; but is not limited to; the construction of the Environment Centre, and to establish the sustainable business model.
For further details, download the job description here.
Applicants should submit their CV and a covering letter by the closing date of the 25th of January 2020 at noon to firstname.lastname@example.org
NUDC are pleased to announce a 3 month vacancy for a project manager for the Àrainneachd Àlainn’ Lochmaddy Community Hub and Environment Centre.
Funding has been acquired for particular aspects of the development for Phase 1 and Phase 2. The Project Manager will deliver the next steps in the project which includes; but is not limited to; the construction of the Environment Centre, and to establish the sustainable business model.
For further details, download the job description here or visit HIjobs here.
Applicants should submit their CV and a covering letter by the closing date of the 21st of January 2020 at noon to email@example.com
North Uist Development Company was declared winner of the Best Engagement Award for the UistWind project at the Scottish Green Energy Awards 2020 evening virtual event on November 26.
UistWind was shortlisted as a finalist in two categories: Best Community Project Award and Best Engagement Award; announced by Scottish Renewables in October after considering over 100 entries. More than 800 tuned in to the awards to recognise achievements from the renewables industry, with 12 judges to decide which finalists would receive 13 prestigious awards.
Locogen director and project manager, Stuart Hamilton said: “Wow! What a great way to end such a difficult year. Community energy is at the very heart of what we do at Locogen. In UistWind we found a project team and community who share our passion. This award provides well-deserved recognition to all those involved, who repeatedly overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles to deliver a successful project that will benefit the community for many years to come.”
UistWind is a 1.8MW community owned wind farm in North Uist. The project was conceived as far back as 2010 but needed to overcome considerable financing, development, and construction hurdles before finally being commissioned in September 2019. Operational hurdles followed, including this year’s COVID-19 pandemic.
Ameena Camps, Project Delivery Manager at NUDC accepted the award on behalf the Company “Wow, thank you so much! It is an honour to accept this award on behalf of UistWind. This award is for the Members, the lenders Triodos and EIF, and for the community of North Uist who made this project possible.
“We have worked hard to actively engage and communicate as widely as possible right through to the most recent challenges, so the wider community feel part of the team. It was apt to have the local school children cut the ceremonial ribbon marking the opening of the site last year, representing the future generations of North Uist who will benefit from the project. Personally, I would like to thank my Mom, Susan Camps, who gave me the strength, determination and problem solving ability to tackle obstacles and passed away earlier this year.
“To all who have supported the project over the many very challenging years, and to Locogen for nominating us – we did it!”
UistWind was praised at the award ceremony for its engagement and communication during the many years of challenges; and, particularly for the North Uist Development Company’s (NUDC’s) work to spread the message of lessons learnt across the world to empower other communities whilst helping to avoid similar challenges in the future.
Andrew Ross, Director said “North Uist Development Company is delighted to win this Award. We would like to take the opportunity to thank the North Uist community for their continuing support for Uist Wind, as well as all the various stakeholders and in particular all those who invested in the project via our community share offer, which made the project possible.
“Getting the necessary permissions, raising the finance and getting our two turbines erected have all presented enormous challenges to our small community group. The fact that we managed to overcome all these challenges and that our project is now up and running – and generating above budget – is testament to all the support we have enjoyed from the community, our investors and key stakeholders.
“It is particularly rewarding that we are now able to pass on some of what we have learned to other groups trying to get renewable energy projects off the ground. There are many obstacles in the way of developing these projects nowadays, but if we can help groups navigate through these to increase the likelihood of success for other clean green energy projects across Scotland, that is great!”
North Uist Development Company is advising community groups and individuals to be on their guard against scams targeting bank accounts.
NUDC and NUDC (Trading) Ltd have recently been the victim of a sophisticated telephone-based scam, which unfortunately resulted in the loss of some money. This is now the subject of an ongoing investigation by the police and the bank, and the Companies are hopeful of recovering the funds.
The accounts targeted were unconnected with investments made in the wind turbine project or income generated by the turbines. These funds are held at a separate bank and were unaffected.
The police have advised that the islands are currently being targeted by fraudsters using new and sophisticated techniques to defraud individuals, community groups and charities. So everyone should be vigilant.
UistWind have been shortlisted as a finalist in this year’s Scottish Green Energy Awards; shortly after celebrating success of achieving a significant milestone in September: generating enough electricity to power every single home on the island of North Uist.
Scottish Renewables made the official announcement on Monday, October 5th, after considering more than 100 entries. This year’s Scottish Green Energy Awards will see 44 individuals, companies and projects as finalists for awards in 12 categories at a virtual ceremony on November 26.
Speaking for Locogen, project managers for the wind farm development, Director Stuart Hamilton, said: “We’re really proud of our work with UistWind. This project is a fantastic example of the value of community renewable energy, delivering significant social and financial benefits to the island. As we look to a green recovery from the current crisis, UistWind demonstrates how even remote communities can drive change and showcases the democratization of our energy system.”
UistWind is a 1.8MW community owned wind farm in North Uist. The project was conceived as far back as 2010 but needed to overcome considerable financing, development and construction hurdles before finally being commissioned in September 2019. Less than one year after commissioning, the wind turbines have generated over 6,129,000 kWh of electricity – enough to offset power used by all homes on the island.
The UistWind project has been shortlisted as a finalist for the Best Community Project Award and the Best Engagement Award.
The Award ceremony was originally planned as a hybrid event, with guests at Edinburgh's EICC and an audience streaming virtually; but with the current rising cases in COVID-19 the entire event will now be held online, and for the first time will be free to attend.
Chris Morris, Local Energy Scotland Manager said “Congratulations to Ameena Camps and the team for getting shortlisted for a Green Energy Award. It’s fitting that the hard work of NUDC and the North Uist community is being recognised.
It’s more important than ever to celebrate good news and successes during these difficult times”.
NUDC aims to communicate project milestones and successes as widely as possible, and this news feed highlights key articles.