Point Power blasts ahead into new era

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Point and Sandwick Trust (PST) have passed a significant milestone on their road to forming Britain’s largest community windfarm.

More than 50,000 tonnes of rock have been blasted from the site at Beinn Ghrideag, west of Stornoway, and used to create over two kilometres of roads and hard standings. This has reduced disruption for road users and surrounding communities as rock did not have to be taken to the site.

In just four months, the project has made huge progress with the tower bases for the 9MW wind farm now installed and all roads complete.

The next step will be the arrival of the turbines early next year and the Trust hope the wind farm will be operational by summer 2015.

If the project, which is expected to generate up to £1m annually, continues on track payments for investment in the community could be delivered in September.

Development Director of PST Calum Macdonald said: “We are delighted with the progress we have made since August.

“The contractors and the workforce have been terrific and we are on schedule and on budget for completion of the civil works before Christmas.”

RJ McLeod (Contractors) Ltd, assisted by local contractor Duncan Mackay and Sons Ltd, carried out the blasting and roadworks.

RJ McLeod also carried out the tower base site works, assisted by local contractor DJ MacAulay Construction Ltd.

A spokesperson for RJ McLeod said they were delighted to be back working on the island and helping PST to achieve their goal of constructing the largest community owned wind farm in Britain.

They added that the site had presented some challenges along the way but these had been overcome: “Whilst working on site we overcame challenging ground conditions to construct the access roads to the turbines with the roads mainly “floated” over the moor.

“In some areas the peat was over five metres in depth and was incredibly soft meaning the roads had to be strengthened using several hundred tonnes of site won rock.

“We would like to thank all the local contractors who worked with us on the project namely Breedon Hebrides, IA&C Maciver, D. Mackay & Sons, DJ Macaulay, Iain Maciver & Sons (Peels), Ivor Murray & Maciver Consultancy Services.”

PST’s technical advisor is Sgurr Energy who will also provide operational management support once the wind farm is up and running.

Concrete was supplied by Breedon Hebrides while stone crushing was carried out by IA&C Maciver.

The three concrete bases for the turbine towers were cast over two days from over 1,500 cubic metres of concrete, plus massive cages of reinforcement.

To keep the turbine in place, the base has to weigh over 1,500 tonnes.

The wind farm at Beinn Ghrideag is expected to supply the energy needs of 6,600 households in a year.

The expected life of the wind farm is 25 years, and it should generate an average annual net income of £1 million over that period.

Pictured is the initial excavation of the site which began in September.