North Harris Trust hydro scheme to go ahead on the Maraig river

A new hydro power scheme looks set to be developed in the north of Harris, after Scottish Water pulled out of a scheme to install a water treatment plant on Maraig river.

The North Harris Trust have now secured the necessary permission and are currently exploring potential funding avenues.

However, the size of the scheme is being curtailed to a maximum of 50 kilowatts of power due to constraints in the local electricity grid, with many developments currently on hold awaiting the outcome of lengthy and complex discussions surrounding a new sub-sea cable across the Minch.

Maraig river is ideal for a hydro project as it falls steeply down from the high Harris hills and is free from migratory fish.

However, the plans — which have been under discussion for some time — have been shelved up till now as Scottish Water had plans for a treatment plant which would have been in conflict with the hydro development.

Last month Scottish Water confirmed to the trust they no longer wished to proceed — paving the way for the hydro scheme.

David Wake, the trust’s energy development officer, said: “The frustration here, though, is the grid capacity. The scheme could earn £200,000 a year for the community. However due to the well-known grid constraints in the Western Isles, we can only install a 50kW turbine.

“The scheme has been down-sized from the original plan, but is capable of being upgraded in the future, should grid upgrades ever take place.”

He added: “This scheme has the full support of the local crofting community and will deliver new income to the trust to fund its ongoing regeneration activities.”