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Skye community enterprise secures £23,400

Published: 24/08/2023

A community enterprise in Skye has significantly improved the efficiency of its operations after securing up to £23,400 from HIE.

A community enterprise in Skye has significantly improved the efficiency of its operations after securing up to £23,400 from HIE.

Sleat Community Trust owns Tormore Community Forest from where it operates a woodfuel business, supplying biomass woodfuel.

Customers include local households and businesses, such as Sabhal Mor Ostaig and Lochalsh Leisure Centre.

The Trust has improved the production and storage of its woodchip in order to accommodate a new delivery method and grow its customer base.

The HIE funding has contributed to the costs of upgrading the fabric of the production and storage shed.

This included strengthening the walls to allow for movement and aeration of stacked woodchip, to better control moisture content. Powered roller-doors have also been installed to enable efficient operation of the facility.

The money has also helped fund a blower machine to move the woodchip from trucks as a more efficient delivery process.

The Trust’s long-term plan for Tormore Forest is to maintain a community owned asset operating as a sustainable woodland that generates income.

This enables the group to offer forest access for people of all ages, including a children’s forestry school, mountain bike and walking trails, and arts and social activity spaces. It will also contribute to the country’s net zero ambitions.

In addition to Tormore Forest, Sleat Community Trust owns Armadale Community Hub, comprising a grocery store, post office, fuel station, garage, offices and meeting space. It also owns Skyenet community broadband and established Sleat Hydro, which is now managed by the Community Benefits Society.

The various enterprises are operated by separate entities and provide income for wider community benefit.

Jennifer Macpherson, communities development manager with HIE’s Skye, Lochaber and Wester Ross team, said:

“This is about supporting a very active community trust to provide additional benefits for local people and the environment through social enterprise. It’s also about continuing the journey to a low carbon region and helping Scotland to achieve its net zero targets.

“I’m very pleased we’ve been able to support Sleat Community Trust with this project and look forward to continuing to work with the Trust as they grow their resilience and operations.”

Mike Shucksmith, business development officer at Sleat Community Trust, said:

“In 2022 the Trust employed an assistant business development officer to identify long-term supply for the Trust’s Woodfuel enterprise.  Gordon Matheson, who joined the Trust in that role, has a background in Industrial Chemistry, and he quickly identified efficiencies we could implement in overhauling our production processes. 

“The support from HIE, and other partners including Highland Council, will greatly improve the quality of our product, and benefit our customers in the community.”

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