Last month owners switched on a new hydroelectric scheme at the foot of Inverlochlarig burn, a course of water which feeds into Loch Doine, then Loch Voil and eventually the Firth of Forth. Inverlochlarig, near Lochearnhead and within the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park, is a 10,000 acre hill farm which has been tended to by the same family since 1877. It is home to more than 3,500 Scottish Blackface and Cheviot Ewes and a herd of 100 cattle.
Malcolm McNaughton of Braes Farming Co said that the switching on of the new hydro scheme marked the culmination of many years of hard work and desire to use the natural resources around them.“For more than 15 years we have had a burning desire to harness the raw energy around us; over the last couple of years, the technological developments and increase in Feed-In Tariffs have made it much more attractive for smaller-scale renewable energy schemes like this to be delivered."
The 100kw scheme, which was three years in the planning and development process, is now fully operational and providing power to the Inverlochlarig farm and into the national grid network, benefitting from the Feed-in-Tariff programme. The main catalyst, according to McNaughton, came at a renewable energy conference held at Perth Racecourse in March 2010, where he was introduced to renewable energy consultants Green Highland Renewables. (It was Green Highland who progressed the development through the planning stage.) The scheme was designed and installed by civil engineers Campbell of Doune with Allt-Energy taking care of the mechanical and electrical side.
The new hydroelectic plant at Perthshire farm was largely funded by Clydesdale Bank, whose Business & Private Banking Centre in Dundee provided 80 per cent of the funding with a six-figure support package arranged by commercial and agribusiness relationship manager, Alex Young.