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Energy readily convertible from marine plants

Reaching rural stakeholders

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Engaging with the community: visit to the the Outer Hebrides in September

As Stakeholder liaison facilitator, Ian Macfarlane regularly meets community groups in Scotland and in Ireland.  Most recently he has presented BioMara to the Loughs Agency, a cross-border organisation based in Derry/Londonderry, the Enterprise Board of County Sligo and Donegal Council members and officials.

On 3rd September Ian and several members of the BioMara scientific team visited the Western Isles of Scotland.  A morning meeting introducing BioMara to Comhairle nan EileanSiar (CnES - Western Isles Council) was attended by BioMara’s Scientific Director, Michele Stanley, Grant Allan from the Fraser of Allander Institute in the Economics Department of Strathclyde University, and Ian Macfarlane.
The meeting was hosted in the Council Chamber and was attended by both council members and officials.  The BioMara designated links to CnES are Councillor Annie MacDonald, Vice Chair of the Sustainable Development Committee and Mr Ruairi MacIver, Projects Manager for Renewable Energy, who were both present. 

Following the formal presentations and a question and answer session, the Council hosted a lunch during which BioMara participants including the morning’s speakers, and Prof. Kim Swales (Fraser of Allander Institute in the Economics Department of Strathclyde University), Prof. Neil Hewitt (Director of the Centre for Sustainable Technologies  in the University of Ulster) and Dr. Paul MacArtain (Project Manager in the Centre for Renewable Energy at Dundalk Institute of Technology in County Louth) engaged in vigorous debate about the economics and practical application of emerging techniques from BioMara in the Western Isles.

An open meeting was held in the afternoon to present BioMara to the public, and was hosted by Lews Castle College UHI, a partner with SAMS in the UHI partnership of colleges, learning and research centres.  Given that it was a very warm and sunny Friday afternoon, the session was well attended, both ‘in the flesh’ and by video link, by over 30 participants and two camera crews.  Dr Stanley introduced BioMara to the audience, Prof. Hewitt followed with some thoughts on the economics of seaweed use for fuel and Dr MacArtain spoke about anaerobic digestion and biogas production. 

Following the formal presentations and some informal discussion over tea and coffee, Prof. Frank Rennie, Professor of Sustainable Rural Development at Lews Castle College, facilitated a question and answer session in which visitors and many of the audience exchanged views and sought to define opportunities for applying BioMara outcomes in the Outer Hebrides.

There was just time, before the BioMara team departed Stornoway, for several of them to pay a visit to the Western Isles Integrated Waste Management Facility at Creed Development Park on the edge of Stornoway where Donnie Macmillan, the plant manager, explained its operation.  The plant incorporates mechanical screening, anaerobic digestion and in-vessel composting to produce a soil conditioner and biogas.  It was the first UK plant to incorporate anaerobic digestion of source-separated biowaste on a commercial scale using Linde dry-digestion technology.  The biogas produced is used to generate electrical power for export to the local network whilst the solid digestate is matured to produce a high-quality compost.

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BioMara is supported by the INTERREG IVA Programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.

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