AFTER SEVEN years of planning and fundraising, the four partners in the Merk Hydro Project are delighted that construction work has finally begun in Glen Fyne, Cairndow, Argyll.

The 1mW scheme, costing an estimated £3.5m to construct, will have an output of some 3.2m kWh, paying for itself within a decade. But it has not been an easy route to the cutting of the first sod.

The possibility of a joint venture hydro project on the Merk Burn was first discussed between Roy Foster, of hydro developer CR Foster, and Christina Noble, of local community organisation 'Here We Are', way back in 2006, and took a crucial step towards becoming reality with the appointment of Gregor Cameron as project manager.

Ms Noble paid particular tribute to Gregor's work, saying that he had 'kept the show on the road' with tenacity and good humour. It had been a 'long' seven years, she commented, spent navigating a succession of legal and financial obstacles, not least the uncertainty created by changes in the renewables subsidy regime.

However, there is strength in numbers, and with the addition of a further two partners, MEG Renewables and Richard Grubb and family – on a four-way 25% share – the Merk Hydro Project is now off the drawing board and into the ground, with the digging of the first sod in May.