An Argyll community will celebrate tomorrow (Friday 14 November) after buying a local woodland.
The community enterprise, Here We Are, based in Cairndow at the head of Loch Fyne, has taken ownership of the 37 hectare Ballure Woods.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) is providing grant funding of £125,000 towards the buyout which will allow the company to generate more income and provide a range of economic, social and environmental benefits and create new employment.
Here We Are was established in 1998 to provide a community resource aimed at developing and sustaining the Cairndow area. It now delivers a range of initiatives such as tourist information, exhibitions and local history projects.
The community enterprise currently generates income from two trading subsidiaries – Our Power CIC operates a wood chipping plant, supplying biomass to heat water for several businesses including Lakeland Smolts, a local salmon hatchery and Argyll and Bute Council’s Kilmory Castle.
Here We Are also was the driver of, and has a 25% share in the Merk Hydro LLP, a one megawatt hydro scheme currently under development. Ownership of the woodland will expand the business by providing the company with a local and sustainable supply of timber. This development will also help to support and enhance the social and educational activities on offer.
In 2001 Here We Are opened a centre situated next to the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar and the Tree Shop. It has grown substantially since then with an extensive volume of work completed including a retail space and the collection and interpretation of historical data.
HIE’s Claire Munro, said: “We are delighted to have supported Here We Are to purchase this woodland. It presents a fantastic opportunity for them to grow the company. Ownership of this asset will enable the community organisation to create efficiencies by providing a local and affordable supply of timber for its biomass processing operation. It also gives the group an opportunity to establish a further range of projects within the woodland, including improved access, events and volunteering activities. We’ll continue to work with them to help them achieve sustainable growth.”
John MacDonald, chair of Here We Are, said: “We are all very excited to have had our offer accepted on the woodland and delighted that we can now continue with our plans for development of our renewable energy business and community projects. Our committee and volunteers have worked hard for many years towards this and we thank HIE for their support and financial assistance.”
The area of woodland also includes a plot with planning permission for a single house which the company plans to make available for local affordable housing.
Here We Are is also being supported by the Scottish Government’s Strengthening Communities Programme.