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Estate prospers by plugging into green energy

A 35,000-acre landed estate in Western Scotland, Ardtornish Estate Company Ltd, is boosting its renewable energy production with a new £3.5m hydroelectric scheme, after securing a funding package from Clydesdale Bank. In addition, the Bank is financing a new £350,000 biomass heating project for the mansion house at Ardtornish – one of the largest estates in Scotland.

The latest initiative follows the Bank’s £7m investment in two earlier hydroelectric schemes that are helping to make the estate commercially viable and environmentally efficient. Power generated by the turbines is sold to the National Grid and the estate derives income from each kWh of power it supplies.

What does this business do?

Ardtornish is a forward-looking and business-minded estate, with a diverse range of commercial activities, including traditional livestock farming, deer management, salmon and trout fishing, holiday cottages, and commercial property rentals, along with corporate events and weddings at the mansion house.

In addition, the estate is home to salmon farms, property development schemes, forestry operations, and a silica sand mine.

As one of the largest employers in this large rural area, Ardtornish places great emphasis on community-based business activities that safeguard jobs for local people.

How will the deal help to drive the business?

Commenting on the funding deal, Angus Robertson, Factor and Company Secretary, said: “At the time of the 2008 banking crisis, when we were on the point of starting a major new investment into renewable energy and hydro in particular, we moved all of our banking relationships away from our old bankers, who seemed to be paralysed at the time, into the hands of Clydesdale.

“They were open for business with new land owning estates and farms and also keen to be in at the beginning of what has become a renewables revolution in the Highlands of Scotland.”

Angus added: “Our business has grown and developed in a balanced but dramatic way, through periods of considerable uncertainty in the financial world. We welcome the approach that the Bank has always taken – a combination of personal touch with an in-depth understanding of our business.”

Mike Brown, Relationship Director at Clydesdale Bank added: “Located in a peninsula in West Lochaber, Ardtornish has no shortage of rain, which makes it ideal for hydroelectric operations and we expect the third hydro scheme to add significantly to production.

“Just as importantly, the management have a strong track record in this sector, having built a hydro scheme in 1995 when this sort of venture was unusual. When the government incentivised small scale electricity generation through the Feed-in tariff (FiT), hydro schemes became an extremely attractive investment opportunity.”

Mike added: “Ardtornish is in excellent shape going forward and we look forward to helping drive further success.”

Other case studies

We welcome the approach that the Bank has always taken – a combination of personal touch with an in-depth understanding of our business.

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