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Eigg (Scottish Gaelic: Eige) is one of the Small Isles, in the Scottish Inner Hebrides. It lies to the south of the Skye and to the north of the Ardnamurchan peninsula. Eigg is 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) long from north to south, and 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) east to west. With an area of 12 square miles (31 km2), it is the second largest of the Small Isles after Rùm.

Heritage Trust Edit

Satellite view of Eigg. The island in the bottom right of the picture is Eilean Chathastail.

After decades of problems with absentee landlords in the 20th century, the island was bought in 1997 by the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, a partnership between the residents of Eigg, the Highland Council, and the Scottish Wildlife Trust. The story of this community buy-out is told in Alastair McIntosh's book Soil and Soul: People Versus Corporate Power published in 2001. At the time, the population was around 60; in 2005 it was 87.

The ceremony to mark the handover to community ownership took place a few weeks after the 1997 General Election and was attended by the Scottish Office Minister, Brian Wilson, a long-standing advocate of land reform. He used the occasion to announce the formation of a Community Land Unit within Highlands and Islands Enterprise which would in future support further land buy-outs in the region.

Economy and transport Edit

Tourism is important to the local economy, especially in the summer months, and the first major project of the Heritage Trust was An Laimhrig, a new building near the jetty to house the island's shop and post office, a tearoom, craft shop, toilet and shower facilities.[1] There are two ferry routes to the island. A’Nead Hand Knitwear is a new island business making garments such as cobweb shawls and scarves.[2]

There is a sheltered anchorage for boats at Galmisdale in the south of the island. In 2004 the old jetty there was extended to allow a roll-on roll-off ferry to dock. The Caledonian MacBrayne ferry Lochnevis sails a circular route from Mallaig around the four "Small Isles" - Eigg, Canna, Rùm and Muck from the fishing port of Mallaig. Arisaig Marine also run a passenger ferry called the MV Sheerwater from April until late September from Arisaig on the mainland.[3]

Electrification projectEdit

The next major project of the Heritage Trust was to enable the provision of a mains electricity grid, powered from renewable sources. Previously, the island was not served by mains electricity and individual crofthouses had wind, hydro or diesel generators and the aim of the project is to develop an electricity supply that is environmentally and economically sustainable.

The new system incorporates a 9.9 kWp PV system, three hydro generation systems (totalling 112 kW) and a 24 kW wind farm supported by stand-by diesel generation and batteries to guarantee continuous availability of power. A load management system has been installed to provide optimal use of the renewables. This combination of solar, wind and hydro power should provide a network that is self sufficient and powered 98% from renewable sources. The system was switched on, on 1 February 2008.[4] Electricity began being rationed in June 2010, after mild weather caused supply to fall short of demand.[5]

The Heritage Trust has formed a company, Eigg Electric Ltd, to operate the new £1.6 million network, which has been part funded by the National Lottery and the Highlands and Islands Community Energy Company.[6][7]

Other sustainability projects Edit

In September 2008, Eigg began a year long series of projects as part of their success as one of ten finalists in NESTA's Big Green Challenge. While the challenge finished in September 2009, the work to make the island "green" is continuing with solar water panels, alternative fuels, mass domestic insulation, transport and local food all being tackled.[8] In May 2009 the island hosted the "Giant’s Footstep Family Festival", which included talks, workshops, music, theatre and advice about what individuals and communities can do to tackle climate change.[9]

Topic links Edit

The headings in this section provide links to some of the topics in the Ideas Bank. Click on the Ideas Bank link, or the category listing to see a full list of topics.

Biodiversity UK

An average of 130 species of bird are recorded annually. The island has breeding populations of various raptors: Golden Eagle, Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon, Kestrel, Hen Harrier and Short and Long-eared Owl. Great Northern Diver and Jack Snipe are winter visitors, and in summer Cuckoo, Whinchat, Whitethroat and Twite breed on the island.[10][11]

Low carbon communities UK

In January 2010, Eigg was announced as one of three joint winners in NESTA's Big Green Challenge, winning a prize of £300,000. According to NESTA, projects have led to a reduction in CO2 emissions of 32 per cent. [12]

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  1. "Eigg Shop and Post Office" Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust. Retrieved 1 August 2009.
  2. "A'Nead Hand Knitwear" Retrieved 1 August 2009.
  3. "Welcome to Arisaig Marine Ltd" Retrieved 1 August 2009.
  4. Ross, John (1 February 2008) "Island finally turns on to green mains Eigg-tricity". Edinburgh. The Scotsman. Retrieved 2 December 2008.
  5. Script error
  6. "Isle of Eigg, Inner Hebrides, Scotland - 2007" Wind and Sun Ltd. Retrieved 20 September 2007.
  7. "Island energised by lottery cash" Retrieved 20 September 2007.
  8. "Green Eigg islanders earn place in UK’s Big Challenge says Press and Journal" Retrieved 23 September 2009.
  9. "Take Giant Green Footsteps to Eigg’s Family Festival". Senscot. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
  10. "Eigg-ceptional summer". Scottish Wildlife (November 2007) No. 63 page 4.
  11. "Bird watching on Eigg" Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust. Retrieved 27 December 2007.
  12. NESTA, 14/01/10
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