Point and Sandwick’s energy efficiency project is literally lighting up the future

Norma and Dan Nicolson at their home in Flesherin, Point, on the Isle of Lewis
Norma and Dan Nicolson at their home in Flesherin, Point, on the Isle of Lewis

A project aimed at making Point and Sandwick the first LED community in the UK has made big strides forward over the summer with referrals from around 140 homes for the free lighting upgrade.

Tighean Innse Gall are working with community windfarm charity Point and Sandwick Trust on the five-year project to convert the whole peninsula to energy-efficient lighting in a bid to tackle fuel poverty in the area while also addressing the issue of climate change.

The LED Energy Communities project officially launched a few months ago and since then project officer Dan Morrison has been working on replacing the lightbulbs in houses and carrying out energy efficiency surveys while he is there, to see whether there are other measures that could also help, including wall insulation and the ‘room in the roof’ project.

TIG employee Dan is working full-time on the LED Energy Communities for one year and has so far visited around 70 homes. He was at the home of Norma Nicolson and her husband, also Dan, in Flesherin recently, where he put in 14 of the LED bulbs.

They had already had insulation done and were impressed. “We’re noticing that we’re not putting the heating on as much,” said Norma. “And I think it’s great that we’re getting these lightbulbs. The look of them is better.”

Norma and Dan put their names on Dan’s list for a visit after meeting him at the Point Show in the summer, where he had a stall.

Under the lighting project, each household can get up to 14 bulbs free of charge. At about £6 each, that is a gift of about £84 which should also cut yearly bills by around 10 per cent, due to the increased efficiency.

The cost of the bulbs is being covered by Point and Sandwick Trust, who have committed £72,000 a year to the project for the next five years. The Climate Challenge Fund are also supporting the project in this its first year. It is anticipated the project will grow to two staff for its second and third years, before dropping back again to one.

Dan said: “There are about 1200 homes in the Point and Sandwick area and the plan is to reach them all in the next

Dan Morrison

five years. The people are nice and have been very receptive to the project.” He added: “There’s that relationship too, that’s quite nice. Point and Sandwick Trust have been great to work with. You’ve got strong people there on the board and they are so focused on doing something, not just talking about it.”

Point and Sandwick Trust general manager Donald John MacSween said this LED Energy Communities Project was close to their heart, as the charity behind the Beinn Ghrideag windfarm — the biggest community windfarm in the UK and winner of the ‘best community project’ at the Scottish Green Energy Awards last year.

Donald John said: “Fuel poverty is a major problem in the Western Isles and we are top of the national league of fuel poverty statistics. A wet, windy climate, ageing population, low wages, a significant number of properties below the national ‘tolerable standard’ and above-average prices for fuel of all types all combine to make fuel poverty a major issue.

“In all the extensive community consultations we undertook in Point and Sandwick over the last few years the fuel poverty issue loomed large.

“We determined to do something practical to address the problem by going into partnership with TIG to make Point and Sandwick the first LED community in the UK.

“Point and Sandwick Trust have a strong commitment to helping people in direct, practical ways, and by helping to reduce consumers’ carbon footprint we are partly fulfilling our long-term aim of moving to a renewable energy future for Point and Sandwick.”

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