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Summer News from Coigach

July 30, 2018
by
Coigach Community Development Company

Our new logo – designed by Valerie Hodgkinson, Applecross.

 

Coigach Turbine Bond Offer Our bond offer through Triodos has been fully subscribed: We have raised £1.75 million through the issue of bonds in Coigach Community CIC with the assistance of Triodos Bank’s Crowdfunding Platform. We took the decision to refinance for 3 reasons.  Firstly, the Loans we had did not pay off the whole borrowing, so we would have had to refinance sometime.  Secondly, we were able to half the interest rate, significantly increasing the community contribution, and finally, by combining everything into one loan we were able to smooth the Community Contributions.  A big thank you to everyone who supported the Triodos Bond offer.

The Community Contribution by our wind turbine in its first year of operation was £67k. The actual Donation from our turbine company (Coigach Community CIC) was £88k but £21k was used to pay half of CCDC’s overheads for the current year and pay off some legacy costs. Over the life of the turbine project we anticipate Community Contributions of about £4m, maybe more if inflation is kind to the project. Over the next 12 years while we are paying back our loans, the payments to the community will average around £100k per annum. However, the amounts each year fluctuate depending on whether there are loan principle payments or not, and the size of the principle repayments.  Once the loans are paid off the amounts increase significantly to averaging almost £400k per annum.This increase is the effect of not having Loan re-payments and the effect of inflation significantly increasing our income disproportionally to our costs.

Coigach panorama

A significant proportion of this money will need to be used to advance the priorities identified by our community and incorporated with our Development Plan. These include: affordable housing; local infrastructure; tourism; our environment; heritage and culture. It’s always been envisaged that some of the income would be used to support organisations active in our community. As our first step to use the funds, we propose to launch, very shortly, a small grants fund to which organisations can submit bids.  We are currently finalising the process for application.  The process being implemented has evolved in part from a study visit three of our directors took to Orkney to see how similar development trusts in these islands operate their grant-giving schemes. Our envoys returned with some very useful information which we are now using as the basis for establishing our processes.

 

Pier Pressure Challenges at Old Dornie continue (the pier is unusable at low tide, parking and storage is limited, there is no water, power or mobile signal and the fuel facility has been out of action recently) and with increased activity there due to the loss of Badentarbet Pier and, more positively, developments on Tanera, we have been looking at options for the future. Earlier this year CCDC secured HIE funding to commission AECOM Ltd to create drawings and associated costings for extending the “new” pier at Old Dornie. We now need to consider the viable options: Highland Council have made it clear they will not be investing so community-ownership may be the way to secure its future. We have had helpful discussions with Cllr Ian Cockburn regarding potential asset transfer, deregulation and other issues but the way ahead is by no means straightforward!

 

Affordable Housingis a priority in this community!  Achiltibuie Schoolhouse is now complete, and with tenants in both flats is buzzing with life. What next?  We still need more homes so people can live and work in Coigach and we are following up the offer of land from a generous local crofter. We are looking for people to join our housing working group so we can move things along and get some homes built!  We are taking advice from our friends Highland Small Communities Trust and we are arranging a date for Morven Taylor their Communities Co-ordinator to visit and advise the group further. If you need an affordable home in Coigach or know someone who is, or would like to be involved and find out more please get in touch.

 quad on Ben More

Crofting and Rural Projects Coordinator – maximising the opportunities available to crofters Abigail Anne has moved from CCDC to take up this exciting new post. She tells us: “The aims of my post will be to provide practical training events and sharing of knowledge, getting appropriate advice and support for crofters.  Two demonstration crofts across Coigach & Assynt will be established. The purpose of these crofts is to encourage croft land management and diversification through, for example, drainage, fencing, reseeding, bracken & rush control, stone dyke repairs, fuelwood establishment, community/croft orchards, horticulture and tourism provision. We will prepare a development plan for each demonstration croft and implement the plan, in part, through practical training events for the crofting community. One might envisage, for example, diversification into horticultural production, and we would hold a training event necessitated by this.

We will be looking for enthusiastic and forward-looking crofters to take up the training croft opportunity and the croft selection will be done in a competitive and transparent way. Croft development will be guided by an agreed plan and implemented by a combination of training event, the crofter him/herself, a development budget, and funding through CCAGS and SRDP or their replacements.”

Soil beneath our feet

Coigach Girls: Mairearad Green, Anna Buxton and Kim MacLennan playing on “The Soil Beneath Our Feet” Ceilidh Tour.

‘The Soil Beneath Our Feet’,collected music & tales of Coigach & Assynt EP using three young, local musicians has officially been launched at the Manran gig in Achiltibuie at the beginning of June. It had a second launch at the Assynt Crofters’ Trust celebration in July.

 

AcheninverActivity at Acheninver Hostel will continue as improvements take place with the upgrading of the Acheninver path beginning in a few months.

 Tanera

Tanera Mor Rich Williams writes: “An open day for local residents and visitors was held on Saturday 2ndJune to celebrate a year of Ian and Saffron Wace’s ownership and to provide a chance for locals to come and view the works that have taken place and plans for the next phases. The glorious run of weather held and a great day was had by all with in excess of 400 people making the journey over to Tanera to see the progress.

Visitors were greeted by Ian, Saffron and the Tanera Restoration Project team and treated to a range of different local culinary delights and drinks. It was great to see so many former Tanera residents come over for the day and for such wide enthusiasm and excitement for this major ongoing project which promises to leave a very special and lasting legacy on the Island for future generations to enjoy.”

New Job Share Partner with Abigail Anne leaving, CCDC moved to recruit a new job share partner for Julia.Donald Macleod, who lives in Altandhu, was appointed and has begun to learn about all the various aspects of the work. For the last 22 years Donald has worked as a freelance project research and development consultant principally in Highland. Much of his work has had to do with issues around health, social care, and addressing poverty.

info@coigachcommunity.org.uk

Coigach Community Development Company

Reg. Office: Coigach Community Hall, Achiltibuie IV26 2YG Reg. Charity SC047971

Registered at Companies House SC374107
LDO’s Donald Macleod & Julia Campbell 01854 622 272/379

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