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Polycrub secures investment as part of expansion plans

Left to right: Charlotte Wright, HIE chief executive; Margaret Roberts (Nortenergy director); Maree Hay (Northmavine Community Development Company’s Project Officer); L-R BACK Rachel Hunter HIE; Stuart Balfour (Nortenergy director); Lorne Crerar, HIE Chairman. Photo: Ben Mullay/HIE

THE TEAM behind the popular Polycrub has secured over £150,000 in funding from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to expand the business.

Northmavine Community Development Company (NCDC), which oversees the production of the hardy polytunnels through its Ollaberry based Nortenergy social enterprise, is set to embark on a £400,000 expansion of the Polycrub business as demand continues to rise.

An equivalent of 2.5 full-time jobs is due to be created over the next three years, with turnover expected to increase from £223,000 to £492,000.

Profits from the business will be reinvested in the local community through NCDC.

Nortenergy director Margaret Roberts said: “We are delighted that HIE has the confidence to invest in this project and that the organisation is continuing to support this community, which has built a relationship with HIE over the past few years.”

Polycrubs are made from recycled sale farm piping and kits have recently been sold to customers in the Falklands.

HIE chairman Professor Lorne Crerar said Nortenergy is a “great example” of social enterprises capitalising on the region’s geography.

“The innovation we have seen here is inspiring; using the ready supply of waste salmon farm waste salmon farm piping, which would otherwise end up in landfill, to enable local people to grow their own fresh fruit and vegetable,” he said.

“The fact that Polycrub is proving so popular in other parts of the country and further afield is a real opportunity for Nortenergy.

“As well as generating community income and creating new jobs here in Northmavine, the company is helping communities in other fragile areas who face similar geographic or climatic challenges. I am delighted to confirm HIE’s support for this initiative and congratulate Nortenergy on their ambition and achievement.”

The polycrub started life in 2008 as a project supported by the Climate Challenge Fund, and it has since become popular with locals looking to grow their own fruit and vegetables.

The investment in Nortenergy will increase the profit returned to NCDC and allow it to run for the first time without grant support.