Islanders loving life on Eigg time

Community ownership is seen as a key factor which is attracting young people to the Isle of Eigg

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BBC Scotland's Jackie O'Brien has visited two of Scotland's smallest inhabited isles to see how their communities are faring in 2011 - the Year of Scotland's Islands.

For the second of two special reports, Jackie went to Eigg, an island which has won awards for its use of renewable energy.

Eigg time, as Sussex graduate Jamie Ardagh called it, goes at a slower pace than time on the mainland.

He runs a cycle hire business and a croft on the tiny Hebridean island after falling in love with a fellow student from the isle.

Mr Ardagh said: "It suits me so well. I really love it, just the way of life here.

"Eigg time is slightly slower than mainland time, which suits me very well."

But he added: "The possibilities are here. I want to expand into sea kayaking and hopefully an adventure centre."

Offering him the chance of realising those dreams is Eigg's scarce demand for fossil fuels and expansion into renewable power sources.

Last July, the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust was named overall UK winner in the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy.

Residents get more than 90% of their electricity from hydro, solar and wind schemes.

As well as micro hydro-electric schemes, the island also has wind turbines and photo-voltaic cells which harness the power of the sun.

Ironically, the trust's award win came days after a lack of sufficient rainfall affected the hydro projects and diesel generators had to be used to charge batteries that provide households with electricity.

Eigg resident Eddie Scott is still hugely enthusiastic about the isle's renewable energy projects.

He said: "When we first moved here seven years ago we had our own private generator.

"I was burning a barrel of diesel a month, which cost me about £150 along with all the handling, and that was for five hours electricity a day.

"Now I get 24 hours electricity a day and that's at £30 a month."

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