Glasgow-based renewable energy consultancy SgurrEnergy is to provide geographic information system (GIS) mapping and interpretation services in Argyll and Bute as part of a project which aims to identify and map opportunities for collaboration between the forestry and energy industries.
This unique project, which is part-funded by the Scottish Government’s Strategic Timber Transport Fund, is led by the Argyll Timber Transport Group (ATTG) and brings together key members of the forest and energy sectors including Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission (SHE Transmission), Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) and Argyll & Bute Renewable Alliance (ABRA).
Kirsty Robb, Project Manager, Argyll Timber Transport Group, said: “We are looking forward to the results and to further encourage collaboration and joint ventures between two of the most important business sectors operating in Argyll. ATTG is very proud of the approach adopted by the forest industries in Argyll which is now well established as leading the field in best practice and innovation where timber transport is concerned.”
Working together, the project partners aim to facilitate the most efficient use of existing road infrastructure by the forestry and energy industries and to assist with the planning of new developments which will deliver long term economic, environmental and social benefits throughout Argyll.
Jean Lewis, Project Manager, SHE Transmission, said: “We welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively to find the best solution for the road network in the area. We aim to minimise disruption and maximise benefits for the local community and this information will help achieve that.”
As part of this, Wood Group company SgurrEnergy will identify forest road and energy project infrastructure and how this links to the public road network. This information will assist SHE Transmission in planning access to the proposed major transmission network upgrade between Crossaig, Kintyre and Inveraray.
Ian Irvine, Technical Director, SgurrEnergy, said: “Argyll is a vital location for the development of renewable energy and we are delighted to be working with two crucial sectors of the local Argyll economy – energy and forestry – to help deliver maximum benefits for the area and its residents.”
Using GIS software, SgurrEnergy consultants will identify and map route options which make best use of existing roads and tracks in forested areas. New roads required for construction will be assessed to maximise the long term benefits to the forest industry and to the wider infrastructure in Argyll.
The project will also highlight opportunities to link existing access routes within established forests to allow timber traffic to be directed away from sections of the public road network whilst enabling renewable energy development. The methodology used could be replicated in similar areas where forestry and renewables are key sectors in the rural economy and interact closely.