Quarry Assessment

Paul Everett, a geologist from the British Geology Survey team, will be visiting Westray from 11th to 15th January to conduct the quarry assessments.

He has been tasked to identify up to 4 potential sites and give recommendations on the quality and quantity, likely productivity and costs associated with each site. The Trust then intends producing a paper, to be distributed to the community for further approval.

His visit will begin with a tour of the island, from which land owners may be contacted, requesting permission to conduct a sampling exercise on their land.

If you have any questions about this, please contact Andy in the Trust office on 01857 677858.

Housing Needs Assessment

In partnership with the Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Westray Development Trust is developing a study that will provide the board with sufficient information on which to base any thoughts on housing development.

If you have any questions about this project, please do not hesitate to contact Andy on 01857 677858.

Subject to the funding being approved the following brief will form an Invitation to Tender:

Westray Housing Project Consultation Brief


The island of Westray is situated approximately 18 miles North of the main island of Orkney (“The Mainland”). The current population of 588 (Census 2011) is mainly concentrated with the boundaries of Pierowall village.

Westray Development Group formed in 1998 and within 4 years became Westray Development Trust (the Trust) and subsequently registered as a Scottish Charity and Company Listed by Guarantee. Together with its wholly owned trading subsidiary, Westray Renewable Energy Ltd, the group’s vision is to develop the economic, social and cultural sustainability of our community by harnessing the quality of our resources, people and island environment. The Trust has a board of between 6-15 volunteer trustees who represent a growing membership, currently standing at approx. 140.

The charitable objectives of the Trust include provisions to regenerate the community of Westray by the maintenance or improvement of the physical, social and economic infrastructure whilst also providing housing for those in necessitous circumstances.  It is also a priority to address depopulation which has seen a drop of just over 1000 residents in 100 years / improved quality of life / attract young people & families to live and work on the island?

Westray is a versatile island that has a high degree of intradependence, necessitated by historically poor transportation links with The Mainland. This has left a legacy of being able to “get things done” and high levels of commercial activity. The two main industries of agriculture and aquaculture dominate the island and the success of which the community depends. Currently one of the major employers has plans to expand their business and double the workforce however, there are some concerns as to where the new employees will be recruited from and where they will live.

At the time of writing there are 9 houses for sale on the island ranging from a traditional stone built, two bedroom property that lacks insulation and heating systems, listed as offers in excess of £45,000 to a five bedroom house, currently used as a guest house, listed as offers in excess of £220,000. There is very little movement in the property market with the most recent purchase seeing a retiring couple move to the island.  The Trust wishes to explore opportunities to improve housing provision on the island and thus to stimulate socio-economic growth.

A recent study, conducted in partnership with the Local Authority and Housing Association concluded that “Although there was not a large numerical response it is clear that Westray is generally well positioned in terms of social rented housing provision, but that some local households, many of them younger people looking for their first home, would benefit from some assistance towards the development of self-build properties or off the shelf purchase in the private market.

The Council will continue to investigate the potential for assistance with self-build projects and finance, as well as any other schemes that may be launched nationally. We will continue to work alongside The Westray Development Trust offering support and advice on any future housing related issues or developments” (Orkney Islands Council, 2015 “Westray housing needs survey”) In isolation, this report is not enough to inform the Trustees of all the options and considerations that are needed in order to fully realise our stated vision.

Purpose of the Contract

To fully appreciate all aspects of the island’s social and financial economy and how best to support this with a housing development agenda, the Trustees require a strategic study of:

  • Knowledge of the current and future staffing needs of the major commercial operators, service providers and authorities on the island in the form of testimonials.
  • An understanding of the potential to develop partnerships with the commercial operators, service & utility providers and authorities.
  • Knowledge of structured housing development options, such as Rural Housing Bodies.
  • Identification of the available land plots and access to services of each plot
  • Knowledge of the potential capital and revenue funding opportunities to purchase land and develop housing and/or commercial units.
  • An understanding of the community’s expectations and attitude towards housing and housing development
  • A housing valuations study, incorporating local, Orkney wide and national valuations
  • The potential to link in with any of the other projects and initiatives currently being developed by the Trust.
  • Knowledge of a range of available exit strategies
  • Identify potential partners (such as Local Authority, Housing Association or other Registered Social Landlord) to manage the lettings/maintenance/sales, and the costs of this.

This work will identify opportunities for the Trust to participate in housing provision, and inform the Trustees with regard to next steps.  This might include submitting funding applications for land/asset purchase (such as the Scottish Land Fund) and capital development (such as the forthcoming Scottish Government Rural Housing Initiative).

Key Skills

In order to gather this intelligence, the following required skills and experience will be required:

  • Preparation of business plans to inform decision making and to be used in support of funding applications
  • Working with community organisations involved in owning and managing domestic and commercial assets
  • Working with community organisations involved in owning and developing a housing project
  • Proven effective communication with volunteers in community organisations and with the wider community
  • Knowledge of funding schemes and initiatives beneficial to both developer and purchaser
  • Knowledge of the Community Empowerment Bill and Land Reform Act

Key Tasks

In order to  present a robust business case for funding bids for land/asset purchase, and go on to develop a range of domestic and commercial properties, on Westray, the following key outputs are required. Where possible, the maximum use of local workforce/materials and use of sustainable systems/products, etc are to be considered.

  • A report of the land availability, currently marketed or otherwise
  • An options appraisal for each area of identified land, detailing the potential of developing a range of both domestic and commercial properties
  • A report of funding opportunities for; land purchase, domestic and commercial property development and revenue costs of developing these.
  • An appraisal of the current and future employment needs of the main employment providers and their attitude towards supporting a housing project.
  • A comparative study of the current market values of a broad range of commercial and domestic properties on Westray, in Orkney and National
  • The delivery of and a report of community engagement exercises, exploring local people’s attitudes towards a housing development project
  • A report, including running costs, of organisations with the ability to manage the lettings and maintenance of the domestic and commercial properties
  • An exploration of emerging opportunities to link with any local and national projects, maximising the benefit of developing housing and commercial properties.
  • Identification of areas of land where the potential exists to use legislation to transfer ownership, for the purposes of building development, to the community.

Management and Output

The Operations Manager of Westray Development Trust will be the principle point of contract for the commission and to whom all enquiries should be addressed.

The work is weighted more towards developing a view on the local need, therefore it is anticipated that the consultant would spend considerable time on Westray with the collation of the wider information and report writing being conducted remotely. As such Tenders should reflect the additional costs of travelling and working on a remote island.


This is a fixed-term contract with a specified fixed budget and is to including travel, accommodation, administration and all other aspects of delivering the study on time.

The successful candidate will be contracted on a self-employed basis and will be liable for all tax, insurance and pension contributions.

Fifty percent of the agreed budget will be paid on appointment with the remainder on receipt on approval of the final report.


The maximum budget allocated for the purposes of fulfilling this contract is £9000 and is to include all costs associated with the delivery and production of the key tasks.  The work is part funded by the Westray Development Trust and The Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Procedure for Tendering

Invitations to tender will be accepted in a written format of no more than 3 pages of A4 in either electronic or hard copy with an attached CV. A scoring matrix is attached and is based on:

  • The clarity of the proposal and its proximity to our specified key tasks
  • The stated capability of the organisation including relevant and recent experience
  • The skills and experience of the key personnel
  • Quality assurance statements and production of testimonials
  • Assessment of the risks and constraints of the organisation and/or key personnel.
  • The intended methodology to achieve the required outcomes
  • Access to resources
  • Timeline and allocation of tasks
  • Price


12th February 2016                           Invitations to Tender sent out

8th March 2016 (Noon)                   Closing Date

15th March 2016                               Initial Assessment

16th-23rd March 2016                       Review period with tenderers

4th April 2016                                      Final Assessment

5th April 2016                                      Awarding of contract to successful Tenderer

6th April 2016                                      Feedback VC/Skype available for unsuccessful Tenderers

8th April 2016                                      VC or Skype meeting with successful Tenderer

8th July 2016                                        Work to be fully completed with reports submitted

Quarry Assessment Contract signed

The directors yesterday agreed upon a contract with the British Geological Survey, to conduct quarry site assessments on Westray. Once completed the Trust will share the information with it’s members and broader community.

The contract is commercial sensitive, so therefore the Trust is unable to publicly disclose the full details however the following is a summary of the intended work.

(i) Conduct an assessment of 3-4 sites identified as potential resources of natural stone on the Isle of Westray. Those site(s) identified as the most prospective will be studied in greater detail. The assessment will be based on examination of rock exposed at the sites, as well as borehole cores and records, if available(note 1). The following will be assessed:

  • stone character and stone variability
  • fracture distribution and the effect of fractures on the size and shape of extractable blocks
  • estimates of the volume of recoverable stone and overburden at the sites
  • geological features that have the potential to limit quarry expansion or increase the waste ratio

A number of representative samples will be collected from potential resources for analysis and characterisation.

(ii) Conduct a comparison and assessment of the quality of the sampled natural stone for a range of purposes, including dimension stone, walling stone and as crushed stone for farm tracks.

This will include petrographic analysis as well as geotechnical testing of representative samples. The programme of geotechnical testing will be conducted by a third party (a well-reputed testing house) who specialise in lab-based test methods(note 2). Test results will be interpreted by BGS. Results will be compared to those from materials currently imported to the island for building purposes to allow a cost-benefit analysis to be conducted by the client.

(iii) Prepare a report describing the outcomes of (i) and (ii).

Advice will be given on potential uses of the stone, its durability, and on appropriate methods for extracting and storing stone.

The price quoted below includes the cost of a member of staff spending five days on Westray to examine the quarries and conduct representative sampling for material characterisation.

The price also assumes that assistance will be offered by Westray Development Trust for the following:

1) Transportation of BGS staff and equipment between sites on the island during the visit

2) Shipping and/or provision of suitable tools for quarry sampling

3) Shipping of samples to BGS and test labs (up to 100kg. of material may be required)

4) Co-ordinating landowner permission for access and sampling of the sites

If you have any questions relating to the quarry assessment, then please do not hesitate to contact Andy on 01857 677858


Charity Shop Survey Results

Thank you, to all those who completed the on-line survey. We received over 80 responses which is fantastic and on the whole there is general positive support for the development of a charity type shop on Westray.

Currently the Trust is concurrently looking for funding/land/premises to develop this proposal further. In the meantime, if you have any further thoughts, then please don’t hesitate to contact the Trust in the usual ways.

Please click on the link Results-of-an-online-survey to see the report of the survey.

Thank you again

Here 2 Help

In partnership with Age Concern Orkney, the Trust has supported the development of a “home care” support service for members of the community aged 60+ years old and who find themselves needing a little helping hand. The cost of the service, managed by Age Concern Orkney is normally £15 per hour however, the Trust will subsidise this by £7.50.

Three members of the community have been recruited as service providers and after some localised training the service will be available from mid June.

The service aims at supporting those who sometimes need a little practical help which is all that’s needed to make life easier and more comfortable.

Whether it’s help with housework, laundry, shopping, preparing meals or even stocking the freezer with home cooked meals we’ll try to find a worker that can provide it.

The paid workers will be disclosure checked, trained and insured for the customers peace of mind.

For more information please call Age Concern Orkney on 872438 of the Trust Office on 677878 for a chat.

Grant awards December 2013

I-pads for the Learning Centre:   the WDT board has approved the purchase of two I-pads and accessories up to a maximum of £850, for use in the Learning Centre and Digital Inclusion projects.  These will be a great help especially to the older people taking part in the two I-pad classes that are already going, and the the folk waiting for the new class to start in early 2014.

A business loan application that had been received by WDT has now been withdrawn by the applicant.

Training Grants:  Nine further requests for grants towards the NFU Farm Safety course were approved, making a total of 22 people (of the 24 attending) being eligible for and each receiving a £50 grant towards this very important course.

NFU farm safety course
NFU farm safety course

Getting online – free classes

The first two Ipad classes are well under way with great enthusiasm, so watch out for some bigger than usual requests for Christmas presents this year, or unexpected new Skype callers!

Classes will continue in 2014, with at least one new group starting.   These can cover a wide range of needs:

–          People completely new to using computers or going online

–          People wanting to learn how to use Ipads (which can be much easier for older folk or those with difficulties with their hands)

–          Anyone who isn’t confident about using the internet

The classes are very informal, go at your speed, and you can use whichever type of equipment suits you  (Ipads, laptops, or desktop computers).  You don’t have to have internet at home, and you don’t have to have your own computer or Ipad.

Contact Corinne on 07766 266656 or leave your name and phone number at the WDT office if you think you would like to know more, or know someone who would benefit or would like to have a taster session.

Local training opportunities

These are some of the courses in the pipeline for the new year:

A Business Start Up course  (likely the very end of February) – course content and dates and times are still flexible, so if you think you would like to take advantage of this free course please contact Corinne as soon as possible.  This may also be relevant to businesses who have already started but want some help putting together business plans for future development.  Cost: free.    Time:  one to 1.5 days

Basic work related courses:   for example Food Hygiene, First Aid, etc.   If there are 6 people needing to do any of the Orkney College Short Courses then these may be able to happen on Westray.  The new Learning Centre Coordinator will be contacting local businesses to find out what your training requirements are for the next year.

Evening self study group (for people doing ECDL or any distance learning).  This can start when the new internet connection and computers have arrived for the Learning Centre

Drop in sessions for Ipad learners and anyone needing help getting online

Other courses – contact the new WDT Learning Centre Coordinator to discuss (through the WDT office).   Things like SAGE accounting, manual handling, or recreational and leisure courses (genealogy online, digital photography, etc) have all been suggested already.

Learning Centre Coordinator

The Board have decided to advertise the post of learning centre coordinator which will be a one day per week post, on a self employed basis, for six months. This person will be responsible for ensuring the continued use of the learning centre and for assessing training needs on the island for both businesses and individuals.

I-Pad Classes

The first two I-pad classes have happened with the tutors blown away by the enthusiasm from all the learners.  They were really brilliant sessions with everyone getting stuck right into tapping, touching and swiping, and  looking forward to next week.   It was really inspiring to see older folk getting to grips with this new technology, especially as it was such an awful day to come out.

Please pass the word around to people you know who might want to have a go at using I-pads or laptops to get online – I’m already starting to take names for the next lot of sessions that will start in the new year.   No charge, you learn just what you want to know in a very informal way, and you don’t need to have internet at home or have your own I-pad or laptop.

This is part of the Get IT Together Orkney project.