Lael Forest Community Hydro

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This project was led by Ullapool Community Trust to investigate the viability of small scale hydro scheme at Lael Forest.  The feasibility of a scheme has been confirmed and planning permission has been granted.  Lochbroom Community Renewables Ltd has been set up to take forward the work. 

Visit Lochbroom Community Renewables Ltd website


Hydro scheme approved one day before deadline!

Report from Public Meeting – 23 June 2015

LHS - Social Media Ad

February 2015

  • The flora and fauna surveys have been commissioned and are planned to complete by the end of April
  • Legal advisors have been appointed to negotiate the lease of the scheme land from Forestry Commission Scotland
  • The go-ahead has been given for Geological and Technical surveys to take place covering both the Bhraghie and the Mhuillinn schemes. This will provide more detail on the likely construction costs and will help with the next phase of the design.

January 2015

  • The layout for the Allt a’ Mhuillinn Scheme has now been agreed
  • Flora and fauna surveys (including bats, birds and fish etc.) will be carried out during the spring
  • Lochbroom Community Renewables Ltd, a community benefit company, is being set up to take the project forward
Photo of Mhuilinn - taken by Paul Copestake
View of the Allt a’ Mhuilinn from banks of River Broom showing potential sites of intake and turbine house

(photo courtesy of Paul Copestake)

September 2014

  • The sub-group have recommended a site to the UCT board
  • The options on the Bhraighe are still being investigated
  • Neil Gerrard was welcomed on to the sub-group at the sub-group meeting held on 17th September

August 2014

  • The project is currently moving through the Planning Phase and we are looking at detailed options to balance costs against future benefits
  • babyHydro (our sub-contractors) are planning another site visit and will meet with the Project Officer and the sub-group
  • Further clarity on the technical and financial aspect of potential options is being sought.

July 2014

  • Options are currently being considered with the sub-group with a view to a viable scheme being identified
  • Discussions are underway with SSE regarding grid connection
  • David Maxwell was welcomed on to the sub-group at the meeting held on 24th July

about the project  2 - Allt a'Mhuillin Visit 220413

The project was led by Ullapool Community Trust to investigate the viability of small scale hydro schemes at Lael Forest.

Detailed feasibility, environmental and terrain studies will be conducted.  This will allow issues including access, grid connection and potential environmental impacts to be considered in more detail.  Detailed design work and financial projections will also be completed

If developed the Lael Forest Community Hydro project would be one of the first community-owned hydro schemes in Scotland and could generate around £50,000 a year which would then be reinvested in the local community.

Who is involved?
The project was managed on behalf of UCT by a Project Officer, supported by a volunteer Sub-Group . Technical advice was provided by babyHydro ( a consultancy company who specialise in the design and implementation of small-scale hydro power solutions across Scotland.


The project was initially established by UCT because of strong local support for community-owned renewable energy projects and an invitation from the Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) to communities to express interest in developing hydro projects on local state-owned woodland.
Preliminary feasibility study – After securing exclusivity on the Allt a’ Bhraighe and Allt a’ Mhuillin burns at Lael UCT had a preliminary feasibility study carried out which found that both burns offered potentially viable locations for small-scale hydro schemes.

Community ballot – A community ballot was then carried out . Over 58% of residents voted in the ballot and 96.5% voted in favour of the project.

UCT lease the burns – Following the ballot UCT gained approval from the Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) to lease the Allt a’ Bhraighe and Allt a’ Mhuilinn burns in Lael Forest

Securing funding – The initial work was  funded by a Start-up Grant from the Scottish Government Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES). UCT were then successful in securing a Pre-Planning Loan from CARES to allow us to appoint a Project Officer and progress the detailed surveys. This loan will be repaid from the hydro income or converted to a grant if the scheme does not go ahead.

hydroproject documentation

Further information on the project is available to view below –

Planning Application

Lael Forest Community Hydro – Info Pack

Lael Forest Community Hydro – Preliminary Feasibility Study

Lael Forest Community Hydro – Timeline

Lael Forest Community Hydro – Map

Lael Forest Community Hydro – Open Meeting Report

Preliminary feasibility study

Lael Forest Community Hydro – timeline



Public meeting 7.30pm 23rd June 2015, Lochbroom room Macphail Centre, Ullapool

Hydro sub-group meeting 11th June 2015

Hydro sub-group meeting 19th May 2015, Ullapool Village Hall

Hydro sub-group meeting 10th March 2015, Ullapool Village Hall

Hydro sub-group meeting, 24th February 2015, Ullapool Village Hall

Hydro sub-group meeting, 27th January 2015, Ullapool Village Hall

Community Update meeting 27th November, Ullapool Village Hall

babyHydro site visit 11th November 2014

Hydro communications group meeting, 24th September

Hydro sub-group meeting, 17th September

Hydro sub-group meeting, 12th August

Hydro sub-group meeting, 24th July

Hydro sub-group meeting , 19th June 2014

Hydro technical  group meeting, 9th June 2014

Hydro sub-group meeting, 14th May 2014


contact details

 Sub-group volunteers

Paul Copestake,  Sarah Di Rollo,  Sandy Osborne,

Dave Maxwell,  Andy Kaye,  Neil Gerrard, Tim Gauntlett, Rebekah Lewin.