The Machrihanish Airbase Community Company (MACC) owns and manages the former NATO airbase just north of Campbeltown in Kintyre. They have been operating for a year following a four-year acquisition effort and own 1,000 acres of land and some 200 buildings, all bought for £1.
MACC is home to one of the UK’s two wind tower manufacturers, other renewables activity and Campbeltown airport. These tenants provide around £300,000 of rental income.
As Kintyre develops its role as a renewables hub, MACC will have an important role as a location for investment
in offshore renewables.
The beginning – HIE’s involvement / Mar a tha HIE an sàs
From 2008, HIE has been actively involved with MACC and in its dealings with the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the previous owner of the base. It played the role of ‘critical friend’ for much of this time, mindful of the potential liabilities stemming from the ageing, complex nature of many of the base’s assets.
For example, of the 200 buildings, fewer than 10 are considered to be viable. HIE worked with the Scottish Government and the MoD to help minimise the risks presented by the infrastructure at the base. HIE helped with the protracted business buy out process that included the need for a second ballot.
Since the acquisition in May 2012, the Board has appointed a Business Manager, witnessed a £1.7 million investment in utilities at the base and dealt with an array of largely internal issues ranging from staffing to financial management.
MACC is building on its capacity to take forward an ambitious development plan. Its Board is primarily geared with energy and expertise to achieve the acquisition and prevent what the community saw as potential asset stripping. It has less enthusiasm for business development allied to limited knowledge and experience in this area.
This capacity gap is being addressed through intensive support from HIE.
Post acquisition, HIE has funded the development of a property management system. Under prior ownership, MoD practices were followed; these are quite different from normal commercial practice.
MACC is account managed with a dedicated resource. MACC manages a large commercial and industrial site. Its focus is to attract projects in renewables, and in areas contributing to sustainable development at Machrihanish.
It is encouraging community use by local groups looking for storage, event venues and for property.
HIE’s support will assist MACC realise its growth potential. The main outcome sought is increased turnover generated through a community owned asset. This will be driven by a growth in rental income from new tenants attracted to the base.
Some properties will be upgraded as demand requires. Argyll & Bute Council has invested £12 million in local infrastructure, including Campbeltown Harbour.
MACC will be an important means of helping realise the potential this offers to Kintyre and beyond. The project will also have social impacts through the provision of affordable space for local groups and in an area of employment deficit, increased opportunities to secure jobs.
David Roberts, Tel. 01546 605430