Great turnout for KALY Public Event
We had a great turnout for our first public event at the Waternish Hall last Thursday evening despite miserable weather.
Thanks to all who attended to hear about our prototype training farm at Loch Bay. It was an informative evening and of huge benefit to ourselves.
For those of you who missed out please use this LINK to see the presentation and hear a recording.
We have included a note of the key questions raised along with our answers. Please remember to express your views through our website which we really appreciate. Any questions will receive a prompt reply.
We will continue to keep everyone regularly informed now that you have all joined us on our journey!
Would the structure of the farm be there all year round?
Yes, it will.
What infrastructure is required to support the farm? Where is it going to be stored? How will this impact on traffic? Do you see extra infrastructure being required and being put into Stein to operate the farm or will it just be a few boats?
A large boat will be hired to install the farm structure and for harvesting to Dunvegan or Uig pier, then to a hub for processing. Processed seaweed from hub to markets by road. Initially only one small boat moored at Stein and one flatbed truck delivering equipment.
If you get everything that you want in terms of planning and you get that, what size of a team do you need to run the farm. How many people will be involved? Where is the laboratory? Will jobs be all year round or just seasonal?
Initially 2 Managers, another 4 people at harvest time, a scientist and admin. This will rise to 16 full time and 8 part time by year 5 with some seasonal work.
What about the movement of boats and what course would they take from the farm into Dunvegan? How many flashing buoys will there be?
South side of Sgeir nam Biast, past Sheep Rock, round Lampay then in to Dunvegan. 2 buoys, one at each outer corner of the farm.
You are obviously getting huge amounts of finance. We are into the beginning of a deep recession. How confident are you about getting returns and at what point do you see the returns coming in?
There is a lot of corporate interest in bio diversity. We are confident of raising funding this year and providing a reasonable scale can be achieved the project will show a profit in 4 to 5 years.
Have you looked into water extraction and the drying of the product into a powder? It would seem that this will use a lot of energy to get it into a dry state. Have you done any research on this or is it ongoing? Have you chosen a method of drying?
We have looked at wave, hydro and wind to power dryers, including local projects. We are also looking at natural drying by wind.
About the water that is being extracted. What are you doing with that? Is there a value in it in terms of nutrients?
We are looking at recycling all stages of the process including the heat and biomass in the water, and the water itself.
I feel a bit uncomfortable that community or financial benefits that come here could come from alternative, i.e. government, investments rather than any money that the company itself would be making. You are obviously clear about us being part of the project, so have you considered making some of the shares being made available to the community or the community having some stake in the business?
I see no reason why not. Dunvegan and Edinbane have community trusts, and Waternish should too, but before a company can offer can offer anything a community association has to be in place.
Some of you will know that we are looking towards forming a community trust because we feel that we have got an asset in the form of a large common grazing. We have approached residents to see whether they are interested, because setting up a trust gives you access to a whole heap of benefits that you can get rather than just owning a common grazing. So, the seed has been sown on Waternish. Seaweed has not crossed our minds – but it has now. The opportunity is certainly there with the wind farms that have been springing up and you are bringing something else to the table, plus we have the existing benefits of the grazings and other stuff. The time for a community trust is now.
KALY are happy to help and the community should not miss this opportunity.
I have visions of mountains of pre-dried seaweed. Will it smell? I am thinking of polytunnels.
No. The smell comes from rotting seaweed and we need to dry it before it rots. We will try various drying methods.
When I was being brought up I was always told that those who ask, don’t get and in other parts of the world people are told people who don’t ask, don’t get and I feel a bit uncomfortable that community or financial benefits that come here could come from alternative, i.e. government investments, rather than biodiversity money in any money that the company itself would be making. You are obviously clear about us being part of the project and have you considered making some of the shares being made available to the community or the community having some stake in the business? A financial stake would broaden our ability to connect with the project and as much as we do value the biodiversity and the jobs being created, what we struggle with in our community is not action through bio diversity, as much as where will our children live and in order for us to combat those type of problems the community group or body that you are proposing for us to set up could be a vehicle for this. One of the drivers for both Dunvegan and Edinbane is that there they have large businesses involved, being windfarms. We have to try and set something up so that we can access some of these monies.
Kaly is committed to making its business work for all coastal communities in which it operates. We are in the early days of building a business and are currently discussing with our funders the shape and structure for financial community benefits. In general we can say that financial benefits will be directly related to the seaweed farms in the respective communities and will be there for the long term. We don’t see any reason why a community could not hold a minority of shares in our business. Currently however no community organisation exists to represent Waternish and it’s therefore difficult to see how this would work for Loch Bay.
Are you fixed on it being dried or powdered? You are talking of tons of seaweed being brought into Skye every year.
Processing steps for seaweed will depend on customer requirements which will vary on a case by case basis. – Drying kelp and in particular identifying an available renewable energy source is a key aspect we are currently working on. Cost effective, low tech ways to reduce the water content in kelp before drying are being looked into, including drying in poly tunnels, and we intend to undertake further research before committing to a final decision.
How bright will the lights be at night?
The 2 marker buoys need to be visible from 2 nautical miles. The buoy closest to any building is already about half that distance away. You will be able to see pinpoints of light, but it will not be intrusive.
An earlier slide showed the state of our beaches in terms of plastic. In the harvesting of the kelp is there a danger of harvesting microplastics as well? There is so much plastic on our beaches that there must be some of this in the kelp.
There could be a risk, but all seaweed will be thoroughly washed before processing. We intend undertaking regular water sampling at the site and other data collection in Loch Bay. The one thing that’s clear is that the water quality in Loch Bay, and therefore risk of plastic particles being present, is much more likely to be higher today than it was 25 years ago. We believe that the importance of data collection will be an important aspect of any Marine Plan for Loch Bay.
Most of the money to fund the project will come from companies who are doing dodgy stuff and so is the company going to allow these companies to bad stuff to offset what you are doing? We know there are plenty of companies who are planting trees and offsetting this against other things.
Kaly is funded by the Management Team, Scottish Enterprise, and TriCapital who are a private syndicate of Scottish individuals. We recognise that Net Zero can only be achieved by a reduction of greenhouse gases at source, but we also believe offsetting plays a role as the world transitions to Net Zero over the next 30 years. At the end of the day, what counts for Kaly is its ability to create a low impact farming sector in Scotland and to help restore the environment in which it operates. The potential funders we are speaking to for our next funding round are major financial institutions who have their own environmental advisors. While we can never be certain of poor practice it seems inconceivable that a major institutional investor would risk anything short of best practice.
You are suggesting that there will be further rounds of investments. How many years for the project to become self- funding?
To achieve our ambition of seeing kelp cultivation expand throughput the west coast of Scotland will require considerable investment. Achieving self-funding will depend on the speed with which we can build out our business plan. We anticipate the project reaching a stable position in years 4/5 for our first cluster of farms in northwest Skye.
What about traffic generated through Stein?
There will be no seaweed landed at Stein jetty. We hope to harvest the Loch Bay farm in April/May next year and land at Dunvegan pier. There will be one flat bed truck visiting Stein to undertake maintenance and line seeding. There will also be a 6 meter boat moored permanently at Stein for routine inspections and data collection.