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Community-owned wind farm to help create new jobs in Western Isles

A severe shortage of looms has prevented many weavers from entering the workplace in the Western Isles.

Harris Tweed commissioned for five-star hotel

The trust behind a community wind farm have announced plans to help struggling weavers and create new jobs in the Western Isles.

Dramatically increased demand for Harris Tweed has led to more than 50 new weavers training in the last six years.

But a severe shortage of looms has prevented many weavers from entering the workplace.

The Muaitheabhal Community Wind Farm Trust has now announced plans to buy three new looms and rent them to weavers living in Lewis and north Harris.

Trust member Helen Sandison said: “The Trust are proud to be in a position to be able to offer this sort of opportunity to residents in the trust area, it meets our charitable purposes of creating employment and supporting the population.

“If successful, we hope to be able to develop this project further and enable more to work at home weaving.”

The demand for Harris Tweed has grown substantially in recent years. Emerging markets across Asia are rapidly replacing the US as the biggest buyers of the tweed.

But under an act of parliament, every piece of tweed must be created at the weavers’ home in the Western Isles.

Harris Tweed weaver in Western Isles

The Muaitheabhal project will be managed by the Harris Tweed Weavers Association, which will receive a management fee from the trust.

Development officer William Macleod added: “We are very pleased to be working with the Muaitheabhal Trust on this timely project.

“The leasing of these looms will significantly reduce the start-up costs for new weavers at a time when the purchasing cost of a loom are considerable.

“We are confident the project will bring much needed jobs to the local community.”

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