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Cogeneration: £400,000 to fund biomass heating for 50 homes


West Highland Housing Association has secured a £400,000 loan to build a renewable heating system for a new development near Oban.


The biomass district heating network will generate enough power for 50 homes planned for a site at Dunbeg to the north of the town. Construction work is expected to get under way in December and should take about 15 months.


The electricity will be sold to householders to power domestic heating and hot water.


The organisation, which secured the 10-year loan from the government's £50million Warm Homes Fund, hopes to build 25 more properties at the site in the future.


West Highland Housing Association's operations manager Graeme Bruce said: "We are grateful for the government's support in this project. This is one of a number of projects we are looking at that contributes towards our aims of being able to provide affordable, sustainable heat along with actively reducing the carbon production from our housing stock.


"In the context of Argyll, it helps build the critical mass for biomass to become a viable and mainstream option for domestic and commercial users."


Scottish Housing Minister Margaret Burgess is encouraging local authorities and housing associations to apply for loans which can also be used for hydro schemes, wind turbines and solar water heating. The organisations will be expected to use any income to improve the energy efficiency of their existing housing stock.


Ms Burgess said: "Rising heating bills are a real concern for households across Scotland. The Warm Homes Fund is a key part of what the Scottish Government is doing to help."


David Stewart, of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, said small-scale or community renewable energy projects would address fuel poverty and cut carbon emissions.