19 March 2010
Allt Duisdale Latest
In less than two months, Camuscross & Duisdale Initiative will become the proud owners of Allt Duisdale Reservoir. The land reform process, which started in March 2009 came to a successful conclusion in January 2010 when we received the final ministerial direction to say we could definitely buy the reservoir under the Land Reform Scotland Act 2003. However, we also had a strict deadline to get the money by - 4th April 2010 - otherwise Scottish Water would put the reservoir up for auction again. After all the weeks of work, the pages of application forms, emails, phone calls, letters and deadlines, that was more than we could bear!
We were therefore delighted to receive the excellent news recently that Awards for All have agreed to fund the purchase price of £6,457 and HIE's Community Land Unit have shown their support for the project by offering to cover the conveyancing costs. So will we buy it by 4th April? Not quite - Scottish Water meanwhile realised that the SEPA CAR licence for impoundment has to be transferred to the new owner before the sale can take place. If this is not done prior to purchase, the new owner has to re-apply for the licence, which is both difficult and expensive. Scottish Water agreed to an extension of the deadline to allow this to take place, and is kindly paying for the transfer of the licence. We expect the transfer to take place by the beginning of May, and have instructed our solicitors, MacLeod & MacCallum of Inverness to be ready for purchase as soon as the transfer has taken place. We will be only the eighth community in Scotland to have used the land reform legislation to purchase a piece of land.
As soon as we own the reservoir, we can apply for funding from Community Energy Scotland to produce a detailed business plan, with water flow measurements, plans and firm financial projections, based on the new Scottish Government's Feed in Tariff for renewable energy - this is what determines what a developer is paid for a renewable energy scheme. The business plan will enable us to apply for funding from funders, trusts and banks to finance the building of the hydro scheme.
We will also start a biodiversity management group to make sure we look after the wildlife using the reservoir. We are keen to show that a community owned reservoir with a hydro scheme is beneficial to wildlife.
As the hydro project will soon mean a heavy work-load for directors, we are looking for people with specific skills in engineering, building contracts, renewable energy, financial planning or business management who might want to join a small committee to oversee the development of the project. We will also be looking for volunteers keen to manage the biodiversity of the reservoir. If you are interested in either of these, please contact any of the directors.
We will be planning an event once the purchase is complete, to celebrate taking ownership of the reservoir. If you have any good ideas, please speak to Mary Logan, who leads our Events Committee.