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Urban Design Compendium

Case Study 024 - Empowering people to create sustainable communities

024 - Isle of Eigg

After years of uncertainty and instability, the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust has empowered the island community to grow under their own initiatives and plan for a sustainable future.

The Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust was set up in 1997 as a partnership between local residents, the Highland Council and Scottish Wildlife Trust to enable the local community to buy and manage their island. Following the successful buyout campaign, the Trust prepared a strategic plan to provide opportunities for economic development and housing and infrastructure improvements while protecting the island’s natural and cultural heritage. As well as bringing stability and security to the island, the Trust has renovated several properties, facilitated the built of a shop/post office/community centre and developed an island website. But perhaps the Trust’s most noteworthy achievement is the development of the island’s own renewable energy supply.

Originally entirely dependent on individually-owned generators, it was a long-standing ambition of the people of Eigg to make power available to all homes and businesses through the island’s own renewable energy supply. In 2008 this was achieved through a system which generates power from three renewable sources, hydro-electric, wind and sun. This is all fed into a single, high voltage distribution grid which meets 95% of the energy needs of the 86 people on the island, as well as the seasonal influx of visitors.
As well as the energy system, the community is exploring other initiatives to become more sustainable such as solar hot water heating, an island wood fuel business, home insulation, food production and community orchard, a community bus, a mainland car club and a waste reduction scheme.

The Isle of Eigg energy system has won numerous awards and in 2010 the community won joint first place in the Big Green Challenge competition run by National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA).

Other Information

UDC2 Section - Integrated Designg the Seed  

The residents on the Isle of Eigg have harnessed the Island’s natural resources to generate their own power from sun, water and wind.

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