Just over a year ago, Moy voted to invest some of its wind farm money in upgrading broadband services in the area. Today that decision bears fruit as the first homes were connected to superfast fibre to the premise services, enjoying speeds of up to 76Mbps or even 300 Mbps if they choose. It is expected that by the end of December, every premise in Moy will be ready to connect to this service, making it one of the very first rural communities in the United Kingdom to have access to such speeds.
In early 2016. Strathdearn Community Council commissioned the Cadispa Trust to ask the people of Moy and district how money from Moy wind farm should be spent. Every household was sent a questionnaire, and a lack of decent broadband services was identified as a major concern. Strathdearn Community Developments Company investigated the available options, including wireless services via satellite or mobile phone, but concluded that the fastest, most reliable and future-proof solution was fibre cable.
SCD director James Macpherson took responsibility for this project and major credit is due to him for the speed and efficiency with which it moved forward. Under James' guidance, SCD agreed a contract with Openreach to install fibre cable to 3 cabinets around the Moy area. Broadband would then be supplied to premises via the existing copper phone lines, which would vastly improve speeds, particularly for those closest to the cabinets. However before work had begun, Openreach came back to us with an even better offer - for the same cost they would supply a fibre cable connection directly to every house, bringing even faster speeds to every single premise no matter how distant from the main cable. This offer was possible due to better methods of armouring the fibre cable which did away with the need for expensive ducting. After further consultation with Moy folk, SCD gladly accepted this order.
Since then Openreach have been a permanent feature of the Moy landscape, with vans on every corner and engineers calling at every home. The project has thrown up a few challenges but both Openreach engineers and Moy residents have been very complimentary about each other for their cooperation in overcoming obstacles and getting the job done. Last week the first batch of premises were informed their cables were 'live' and they could go ahead and make a contract with a service providers, either BT or Zen, and today the first routers were connected. Listen ... can you hear the champagne corks popping ...!
SCD have heard today from Openreach that a further 19 premises in the main Moy area will be informed tomorrow that they their cables are live and ready to be connected. The expectation is that Lynebeg will hear the same next week, and Ruthven/Dalmagarry the week after.
SCD would particularly like to thank Openreach manager Robert Thorburn, and chief engineer Robert Williamson for their hard work in making this success possible. They have been unstinting with their time and expertise - from advising about the project in general to quickly and promptly addressing the concerns of individual householders. SCD are now investigating extending this scheme in the Glenmazeran area and look forward to continuing this mutually beneficial partnership.
Advice for Moy residents about switching to ultrafast broadband can be found HERE.
[James Macpherson resigned from SCD and the broadband project is now managed by Steve Cormack, to whom any enquiries should be directed via the community website]
Following due process as a limited company and an OSCR registered charity, and having taken professional advice, invitations have been published to tender for the Design & Build of New Community Hub and Refurbishment of Millennium Hall, Tomatin, Inverness-shire. The detailed tender documents can be viewed on the Public Contracts Scotland website :
Please note that tenders will be assessed on a points basis in which weighting has been given to use of local trades and supply train.
[This article will be archived under 'Community Council News' for future reference]
Section 42 application – extended working hours
Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission plc (SHE Transmission) sought to reach an agreement with the Community Liaison Group (CLG) prior to formally submitting an application to The Highland Council for the amendment. We recognised that there is a general resistance to any Sunday working on the Tomatin substation site. Our latest consultation with members of the Community Liaison Group indicated a strong resistance from the community for any earthworks or construction activity being carried out on a Sunday but there was a general compromise to a full working day on a Saturday and an increase to weekday working hours.
Following these comments, our revised proposal seeks to further limit any works which could cause any disturbance on a Sunday whist still allowing for some progress to be made when the fitting and cabling/wiring of equipment is required (Electrical Works). Electrical works can be carried out with minimal impacts on the wider area in terms of construction noise. We propose to carry out Electrical works on Sundays from circa May 2018 – February 2019. There would be no Civils works carried out on Sundays. The Electrical works do not require heavy vehicles and machinery and by its nature is a very quiet form of working with much of it taking place inside the building. The proposal is as follows: Week day working: 7.00am – 7.00pm – Summer months 8.00am – 6.00pm – Winter months Saturdays 7.00am – 5.00pm – Summer months 8.00am – 4.00pm – Winter months Sundays 8.00am – 4.00pm – for Electrical works only (from May 2018 – Feb 2019).
SHE Transmission and the Contractor will work closely with Dalarossie Church on the schedule of church services. The proposed Sunday electrical working (from May 2018 – February 2019) will not be noisy and with the Church being some distance from the site there should be no impact on the church or other services. Nevertheless, we will ensure ongoing liaison with the Church to ensure that there are no negative effects on the services. Works at Tomatin substation are currently scheduled to be completed by March 2019 to allow the additional generation to connect to the National Grid. This will see the construction of the substation take place over two winters, the first Winter will see groundworks, earthworks and concrete works. Due to the nature of these activities and the exposed nature of the site, it is highly likely that there will be delays in construction activities due to adverse weather conditions. In particular, high winds but also potentially heavy rain/flooding and snow/ice. The exposed nature of the access track is a further factor which may lead to lost construction time if the road is closed. The Contractor has made some allowance of weather risk in the programme, however we are conscious that during the access road works in the summer months of 2017 we still lost 2 weeks of work due to adverse weather conditions (heavy rain). The full application can be found at:
Bring along the kids for a fun-filled morning with activeness games, bouncy castle, and henna tattoos.
Free Entry - Everyone welcome.
Development Officers Report 17th September 2017
Paths Project lead Director, Duncan Bryden, accompanied by C.C. Chair Vivian Roden, SCT chair Edward Usborne and development officer Charles Morgan attended a meeting with Councillor Ken Gowans and officials from roads and planning department at the Highland council offices in Inverness. The objective was to negotiate more favourable planning conditions on the proposed paths sections 7 and 8 (Shop to Juniper Drive). The council were reminded that this summer has seen more and more walkers and cyclists on this stretch of road with regular reports of speeding vehicles.
As previously reported the onerous conditions imposed by Highland Council would add significant costs to the project. The meeting was robust with open discussion taking place and the result was that Highland Council are tasked with offering a compromise solution to enable the completion of the project. Watch this space!
Broadband for Moy:
BT Openreach have commenced work on the project to supply fibre to premises to 49 houses in the Moy area. The contract is due to be complete by December 2017. The cost is sitting at £85k, and will be paid out of Moy windfarm receipts. James Macpherson and Steve Cormack continue to explore broadband options for up the Glen.
Website and communications:
Director Steve Cormack continues to mastermind the web site and improve our ‘digital’ footprint. The hall can be booked on line and regular news items are posted here and on Facebook
As previously reported the final submission of our application was made on the 21st June 2017. Due diligence is still being carried out by the Big Lottery funding officers on our strategic plan. We have a date for the Lottery Scotland main panel to meet to discuss our application. The meeting takes place on the 19th September.
The community faces stiff completion for lottery funding. SCD believes that we have a strong application and we understand that the decision on our application will be made known on the 20th September. Fingers, toes and anything else you can think of crossed! Social Investment Scotland have completed successfully their due diligence work on SCD Ltd and an offer of loan finance for the proposed new hub has been made. Up to £1m of loan is available should it be required.
Please note that other funding avenues are being explored and have been submitted. These include applications to the Regional Regeneration Fund, Scottish Land Fund and Strathdearn Charitable Community Trust (likely to require a community ballot)
Our Building Warrant is now ready to submit - dependent upon the decision on the application for funding to the Big Lottery. The tender process for choosing a contractor is scheduled to commence in October. The chosen contractor to be announced by December.
White River Trading:
White River Trading is the name of SCD’s trading company and runs the village shop. It is with great credit to Lee-Anne and her staff that we can report a break -even situation on the shop accounts April to July 2017.
Whilst there is still a lot of work to do in the shop and previously the shop was trading at a loss and required subsidy, it is rewarding to see the growing support from the community and the increase in trade.
Our development company admin assistant Victoria Cameron Mackintosh has now left the post for another position with the Calman Trust. Victoria will be greatly missed and the board of SCD thank Victoria for her invaluable contribution to the SCD team.
SCD are delighted to confirm the appointment of Mhairi Macsween as the new admin assistant. This position continues to be fully funded through the DTAS grant we receive.
There is still a need for support staff and volunteers for the shop. If anyone would like to volunteer their time, full training will be given by Lee-Anne. Please contact Lee Anne if you would like to help. The Directors are all volunteers too and we would welcome offers of help in project work. Company membership is increasing and we invite more to join.
After long and protracted negotiations, we have finally signed the contract with ENECO for the Moy windfarm opened in May 2016. The first community benefit payment was made to SCD in August.
Improved shop trading is welcome, hall income has fallen as costs have risen.
Date for your diary - SCD AGM – 27th September 2017 from 7pm