Callander Community Hydro Project

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Callander Community Hydro Project

Monday 10th November, 2014

Members of Callander Community Development Trust, supporters from the public, private and third sectors and local volunteers have launched Callander Community Hydro Ltd. – a pioneering, renewable energy scheme now operating at Stank Glen, just north of the picturesque town. 

In 2008, members of the Development Trust conceived the idea of a hydro electric scheme to generate income for community projects. With input from project managers, consultants, planners, funders and volunteers, the Trust successfully applied to Forestry Commission Scotland's 'National Forest Land Scheme' to lease the site where the project has been brought to fruition, creating a text-book example that other communities may wish to follow.

Callander Community Hydro Ltd. is one of the first community-led hydro schemes in Scotland, with the majority in existence led by developers.

Callander is within Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park and the project has benefitted from the Park Authority's proactive stance on micro-hydro schemes, including "ground-breaking" Supplementary Planning Guidance for Renewable Energy formally introduced in 2013 to best coordinate with complex feed-in tariffs.

This approach, including advice on best practice and a step-by-step guide on how to design schemes that are sympathetic to the area's sensitive landscape, has resulted in approval of 36 'run-of-river' hydro applications by the National Park, 11 of which are now operational.

Run-of-river schemes are at the forefront of renewable energy technologies, using conventional hydropower technology to produce electricity by diverting river flow through turbines that spin generators - before returning water back to the river downstream.

Callander Community Hydro Project was established in 2008, drawing on the drive, expertise and commitment of local volunteers to bring the Development Trust’s vision to life.

A core, four person project team was established comprising Frank Park, owner of The Lade Inn and Scottish Real Ale Shop; retired Director of British Rail Scotland, Paul Prescott; Robert Allen, IT consultant in the renewable energy sector and retired Centrica Programme Manager, Susan King, supported by many members of the local community.

The scheme also attracted a £1.65M funding package including commercial borrowing from lead social investor Triodos Bank, the Scottish Investment Bank (Renewable Energy Investment Fund) and Social Investment Scotland, as well as a grant from the Scottish Government and EU Leader Grant funding, which helped cover the cost of project management and professional advisers.

Callander Community Development Trust and Callander Community Hydro Ltd. Chair Frank Park said: "The community has travelled a long road to get to where we are, but I think we can all be exceptionally proud of what we have achieved and the legacy we are leaving for the future."

Callander Community Hydro Ltd. will generate 1.3 – 1.4 Gigawatt hours per year, all of which will be exported to the national grid through the Feed-In Tariffs scheme.

Profits from the scheme will be gift aided to the Callander Community Development Trust to be invested in community projects. Over the first few years, loans will have to be repaid. However, the amount available to projects will increase as loans reduce with an anticipated £3M investment over 20 years.

The turbine house was officially opened by Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park Chief Executive Fiona Logan, who said: "One of the park's main aims is to support local communities in order to sustain thriving local economies. As the largest town in the Park, Callander is particularly proactive in coming forward with ideas and this one pushed the boundaries with a number of firsts.

"The project is the first community-led hydro scheme in the Park and the first community hydro scheme to be built on Forestry Commission Scotland land. As such we had to develop a very specific planning response, which informed Park policies on embracing renewable energy schemes as a whole. I warmly congratulate everyone who has been involved and look forward to the day when the Callander community can reap the rewards."

The scheme will be operated and maintained by volunteers from the local community.

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