A Highland property developer is set to launch the first five units of a 38-plot development despite months of disruption caused by Covid-19.

Allan Munro Construction is a family-owned business that specialises in building residential developments across the Highlands, predominately within the Cairngorms national park.

The Peaks, based in Aviemore, is the business’ latest development which was due for completion in May 2020. However, construction of the homes was paused for three months in response to government guidance, and only recently recommenced.

Prior to the pandemic, and to support its green ambitions for the development and secure cashflow during the build of the new homes, the business approached Bank of Scotland, securing a six-figure funding package.

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The package included a development loan and specific funding as part of the Clean Growth Funding Initiative (CGFI). This initiative is designed to support clients’ investment in a lower-carbon future by providing discounted lending to enable firms to invest in reducing their environmental impact.

The business used the CGFI to install a biomass district heating system at the development, combating the issue of fuel poverty in certain areas of the Highlands where limited alternatives to electric heating are available.

The new system will reduce the carbon footprint of the development and save homeowners at least 20% compared to standard electricity costs.

Cameron Munro, Director at Allan Munro Construction, said: “The construction industry like most business has been hit hard during the pandemic. During lockdown we were unable to progress with works on site apart from selected landscaping and fencing works, where social distancing would allow.

“The sustainability aspect of the funding is a real benefit to our company as we were able to demonstrate through the use of sustainable heating systems and highly insulated timber frame systems that we could meet the criteria set out in the CGFI funding.”

David Henderson, of Bank of Scotland, said: “Learning to adapt during these challenging times and using our support has resulted in the business being in a strong position, ready to progress with plans for the second half of 2020."

A Scottish company is launching a new system to help pubs, restaurants and cafes keep staff and customers safe in light of new laws.

It comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that from Friday, August 14, it will be mandatory for the hospitality sector to collect customer details for the Scottish Government's Test and Protect programme.

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Scottish solutions experts Eco said it is launching a new contactless system from today to help pubs, restaurants and other venues.

The Annan-based company said its Econnects technology is a "simple-to-use system for pubs and restaurant owners and for customers, which enables establishments to adhere to new laws while also remaining GDPR compliant".

HeraldScotland:

Econnects is designed to help businesses remain compliant by maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to venues and by supporting Test and Protect to identify people who may have been exposed to the virus.

Dianne Irving, a pub group managing director who is from Ayr, is the first to adopt the pioneering technology at her venues.

She said said: “This situation is going to be with us for a long time so we were looking for a sustainable solution which makes it easy for our staff to gather and store information, and is also really easy to use for our customers.

“Econnects gives everyone - staff, customers, and any visitors to the premises such as those who are delivering - reassurance and peace of mind that, as well as enforcing social distancing at our venues, we are also doing everything we can by utilising the very latest technology to keep everyone safe.”

The managing director of pub company Drouth, which runs venues in Carlisle including the Crown and Howard Arms, said: “We have been keeping a close eye on what Nicola Sturgeon is saying, as well as what is coming out of Westminster - and we wouldn’t be surprised to see laws in England follow suit to what is happening in Scotland.

“As we have visitors to our venues from both sides of the border we wanted to make sure we are ahead of the game and offering the latest pioneering solutions to help keep everyone safe, so that our customers can enjoy our pubs with that peace of mind and confidence which is so important to everyone right now.”

Eddie Black, Eco managing director, said: “We have developed Econnects to provide a simple, affordable, contactless solution to help keep people as safe as possible in any environment - whether that be pubs, restaurants, cafes, offices, gyms, entertainment venues, sporting arenas, or other premises.

“This system is ideal for pub, restaurant and hotel owners, as it helps achieve that in an easy-to-use way which reassures staff and customers."

A Scottish textile designer has been backed by Creative Scotland after being selected for a leading nationwide initiative.

Iseabal Hendry will launch her first collection of sustainable hand-woven leather bags and accessories this month, and has already caught the eye of the organisation that supports creative industries in Scotland.

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Creative Scotland will provide match funding to Ms Hendry to help support her growing business, if she meets her initial £5,000 target on Crowdfunder.

The funding will enable the Glasgow School of Art graduate to bring her premium, locally hand-crafted bags and accessories fully to market. Every item is made of sustainably produced and sourced materials, including cotton woven in Scotland on traditional looms that are more than 100 years old.

HeraldScotland:

Ms Hendry takes around 15 hours to craft each of her bags, which are made of organically tanned leather, using natural vegetable tannins found in plants, bark, leaves, berries, and fruit.

She said: “There is a definite need and desire for environmentally friendly and ‘slow’ fashion which places the emphasis on the sustainability and quality of the materials and finished product. The fashion industry is obviously dominated by global brands and cheap, overseas manufacturing, but buying from closer to home has more benefits than just supporting local businesses.

“There is a growing awareness that knowing where your product came from and who made it, creates a stronger connection between purchaser, designer, and maker. This exciting initiative from Creative Scotland takes that a step further and lets the public build a strong bond with local designers from an early stage.

“Pre-ordering your bag on Crowdfunder allows me to make the collection entirely from materials sourced within the UK and Europe - minimising the environmental impact and providing confidence in their origin and the quality of the product.”

She continued: “It is a slow process, and one that can’t be achieved with the help of a machine. It’s about valuing the process of making, not just the design, and celebrating craft and quality.”

Reaching her target of £5,000 will allow the small start-up designer to realise her dream of putting her designs into production entirely within the UK.

Ms Hendry will launch her capsule collection on Crowdfunder on Monday, August 17.

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