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Funding for green projects

A SMALL district heating scheme for a Shetland village took a major step forward yesterday (Wednesday) when the Scottish government announced funding of more than £32,000 towards the project.

And so have three other green projects in Shetland that are all due to receive cash from the climate challenge fund (CCF).

They are the Sandwick Community Allotments scheme (£57,101), the Community Allotment Scheme Unst (£18,820), and the Northmavine Community Development Company’s poly tunnel project (£41,821). 

The funding was announced by environment minister Richard Lochhead who also released funds to 86 other project across Scotland.

The Aith Community District Heating scheme plans to install a sizeable wind turbine in the Westside village to heat houses and business, reduce their carbon footprint and also earn funds for the community.

Spokesman for the Aith project, Kevin Henry, said he was delighted with the funding as it would enable the group to carry out an energy audit of the village and surrounding areas this summer.

A part time community energy officer will be employed shortly to carry out that work before an assessment can be made as to the size of the wind turbine needed to power the village.

Mr Henry said: “The first phase would be to have a district heating scheme for the centre of Aith. That would include the leisure centre, the hall, the school, the church, the shop and all the houses in the immediate vicinity.

“Once we got all that information we can find out what size of a turbine we would need to heat the water. We are going for a ‘wind to water’ heating scheme.

“The main objective of this scheme is to reduce the heating cost of the school and the leisure centre, because we don’t want to see the centre’s hours cut as a cost saving measure. We will be able to help them by selling hot water to them at a reasonable rate.

“It will also help the community because any money that is being raised through the new feed-in tariffs will go straight back into the community.”

Northmavine, meanwhile, will see 12 large poly tunnels being constructed in villages across the area.

Owned by the Northmavine Community Development Company (NCDC), people will be able to grow their own food in an almost co-operative fashion.

The area’s power down officer Colin Dickie said he was “overwhelmed” by the response he received when researching this project.

Sturdy poly tunnels will now be built from recycled salmon farm pipes that will be covered with rigid sheeting able to withstand the Shetland weather.

“Each poly tunnel will be shared by between four and six people who will be able to extend the growing season but also extend the range of fruits and vegetables they grow.

“I think I will soon be over-subscribed by users for the community poly tunnels, so there is a good chance that this project will expand,” he said.

Geoffrey Lowe of the Sandwick Community Allotment scheme said everyone on the committee was extremely pleased to have secured £57,000 to help their project.

He said he hoped to have the contractors in later this year to erect fences and do the ground work for an allotment that will offer 20 gardening plots as well as poly tunnels.

“This is about community building and carbon saving. Both go together. I feel the only way to save on carbon emissions is to grow food yourself,” he said.

Speaking in the Portobello transition town project, in Edinburgh, Mr Lochhead said the CFF scheme had attracted huge interest across the country.

“We have tapped into communities desire to do more to help the environment and I look forward to seeing what will be achieved long-term through this exceptional fund.

“CCF has empowered 232 communities to tackle their carbon emissions at local levels, which after today is now estimated to be a carbon reduction equivalent to 225,000 cars off the road.

“We believed that tailored approaches reflecting local needs deliver best results and we have seen some truly inspirational ideas brought to the table.”

The SNP’s Highland and Islands MSP Dave Thompson added: “It is not surprising to see such substantial amounts going to our island communities, who have really challenged themselves in finding creative and effective ways of reducing their carbon emissions.”