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Outer Hebrides Local Energy Hub project scoops top environmental award

The Outer Hebrides Local Energy Hub (OHLEH) project has won the Partnership Scotland Award at this year’s VIBES – Scottish Environment Business Awards with partners The Scottish Salmon Company (SSC), Pure Energy Centre (PEC), Community Energy Scotland and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (CnES).

The VIBES Partnership Scotland Award recognises organisations working together strategically to improve their contribution to sustainable development and the OHLEH project beat off stiff competition from five other shortlisted finalists. The OHLEH initiative focuses on the creation of a local circular energy economy and was funded by the Scottish Government Local Energy Challenge Fund.

Created to encourage collaborative solutions to waste management and energy challenges, the OHLEH project has developed into a unique initiative, which is the first of its kind in Scotland. The project involves the transfer of fish waste from SSC’s processing plant on the Isle of Lewis, which is integrated with other local household and garden waste in an anaerobic digester, based at the CnES Household Waste and Recycling Centre at Creed, and broken down to produce biogas. The biogas fuels a Combined Heat and Power Plant with some of the electricity generated used to drive an electrolyser supplied by the PEC, which in turn produces green hydrogen and green oxygen for use at SSC’s hatchery in Lewis, as well as providing fuel for CnES’s hydrogen powered bin lorry.

Now in its 20th year, the VIBES Awards recognise Scottish businesses which showcase best practice, taking significant steps to improve or reduce their impact on the environment. The awards encourage the efficient use of resources, strive to improve environmental performance and support sustainable development including social benefits through involvement with the local community.

Craig Anderson, Chief Executive of The Scottish Salmon Company, said: “Winning the VIBES Partnership Scotland Award not only recognises the commitment and expertise of the OHLEH project partners, but also is a great example of local collaboration which could act as a blueprint for national best practice, not just by the salmon farming industry but across many other sectors.”

David Macleod, Head of Municipal Services at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “This is an excellent achievement by all the partners, coming together to deliver a circular economy project using ground-breaking technology. This further demonstrates that it is possible for us to build a sustainable hydrogen economy in the Western Isles.”

Bob Downes, Chair of SEPA and head of the VIBES judging panel, said: “The scale of the environmental challenge facing humanity, from climate change to plastics in our oceans, is enormous, with a real urgency to act. The most successful businesses in the future will be those that are not just compliant, but which are also low carbon, low material use, low water use and low waste, and which see environmental excellence as an opportunity. This is at the core of SEPA’s One Planet Prosperity regulatory strategy.

“It is very encouraging to see the diverse range of businesses, small and large, which are taking important steps to reduce their impact on the environment and which understand how environmental excellence can also benefit their bottom line. I would like to congratulate each of this year’s winning businesses and organisations, and hope that others will be inspired to follow in their footsteps.”


Photo L-R: Dr Peter Neilson from Glenmorangie, Iona Hodge from Local Energy Scotland, Daniel Alkil from Pure Energy Centre, Paul Condy from The Scottish Salmon Company, David Macleod from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and Gillian Wilson, Community Energy Scotland