Spare a thought for the residents of the Applecross Peninsula. The clock is ticking on their efforts to finance a green energy project that could transform local fortunes.

Planning a hydro on a local burn has taken seven years of frustration and disappointment but work finally began in August.

A share offer giving the opportunity to invest in the £780,000 project went live last month. So far £330,100 has been raised, in itself a remarkable achievement for a community of under 300.

However, they only have a few weeks to raise as much as they can and thereafter will have to borrow the balance. If all shares were sold the scheme could earn the community £25,000 a year, but if only half are sold income drops to about £10,000 a year.

This is an enterprising community, already running its own filling station open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It also provides its own broadband services through a community network.

However there have been hydro hiccups. SSE had said in 2012 that the project would have a 90kw grid connection only to change this subsequently to 50kw.

The power company explained it had to balance the connection needs of communities while ensuring that the grid wasn't over-burdened. But more capacity was being built in all the time.

This delayed things but the community managed to adapt. It is now planning a local district heating scheme that would use the extra electricity (between the 90kw and 50kw) to provide cheaper power locally, adding to total income from the hydro.

Then there was the announcement from Whitehall in the summer that, as of October 1, the Department of Energy and Climate was removing pre-accreditation from its green energy subsidy vehicle, the Feed in Tariff (FIT) scheme. This had provided developers with the security of knowing what they would be paid for the power they generated, as long as they built their hydro, windfarm, tidal energy scheme and so on in two years. Now they have to gamble on payment rates. Applecross should be alright as long as the hydro is commissioned by December 11. This will be tight, but it will make it.

However, another unexpected hurdle was erected two weeks ago. In a little noticed move in Westminster, HM Treasury added community energy to a list of activities excluded from schemes granted tax relief. It meant those pursuing renewable energy projects such as Applecross would only have until November 30 to attract investors with the promise of 50 per cent or 30 per cent tax relief on their stake.

UK ministers frequently talk about encouraging enterprise, community and hard work. Yet in a matter of months, and simply to save money, they have put serious obstacles in the way of enterprising communities such as Applecross that are working hard to secure an environmentally responsible future. And this at the very time the Met Office is warning that global temperatures are set to rise more than one degree above pre-industrial levels.