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Allt Dearg wind farm venture helps to put Lithgows back into the black

LITHGOWS returned to the black in 2013 when the company made good progress in the renewable energy sector but suffered fallout from the demise of the Buckie Shipyard.

Accounts for the ­family-owned group filed at Companies House show Lithgows made £46,000 pre-tax profit in the year to December compared with a loss of £727,000 in the preceding period.

The improvement in ­trading was partly driven by a big increase in the amount of profit Lithgows generated from its renewable energy activities in western Scotland.

The group's share of the operating profits of joint ventures increased to £792,000 in 2013 from £159,000 in 2012.

The Langbank, Renfrewshire-based company group recorded a first full year's income from the Allt Dearg Wind Farms LLP venture in Ardrishaig in Argyll and Inver Hydro LLP on the isle of Jura.

Chairman James Lithgow wrote in the accounts: "Allt Dearg obtained full electrical connection on Christmas Eve, 2012 and in the 12 months thereafter achieved a capacity factor of 51 per cent in terms of generation output.

"This is close to twice the national average of UK mainland onshore schemes, and as a consequence Allt Dearg can lay claim to being the most successful scheme of its size in the country."

Mr Lithgow, a descendant of the founder of now-defunct Clydeside shipbuilder Scott Lithgow, noted that the local communty shared in the success of the wind farm through its stake in the LLP.

He said the new, hydroelectric scheme at Inver Hydro LLP had also been a significant success since it started generating power in July 2012.

Lithgows also has a wholly owned hydro storage operation at MRC Energy which it said generated steady profit and cash flow.

Noting the group is investing in a wind farm project in Argyll, Mr Lithgow said it expects to make further progress in the renewable energy sector this year.

He wrote that progress in the renewable energy sector should help the group generate strong and consistent cash flows for many years.

The company recorded a £111,000 loss in 2013 in respect of the Buckie Shipyward going into administration in September last year. Problems at the yard weighed on trading in 2012.

Mr Lithgow wrote that the consequences of the yard's demise had a significant impact on the group's financial peformance in 2013, amid competition for skilled staff from the oil and gas industry.

He wrote: "Despite the best efforts of local mangement, Buckie Shipyard was unable to retain an adequately skilled workforce, particularly given the competition to the local wage rates paid to offshore workers, and to attract sufficient and financially viable work packages to replace the sizeable levels of activity that were lost with the sudden decision taken by the RNLI in 2011 to cease working with the yard in Buckie."

Mr Lithgow was listed among 130 signatories of a letter published last week that said the business case for Scottish independence has not been made.

The group diversified from shipbuilding in the 1970s.

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