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Lochhead strikes oil in Beauly
A ground-breaking facility for extracting plant oil was today formally opened by Environment Secretary, Richard Lochhead.
The Essentially Scottish Botanicals steam distillation unit in Beauly will be used to extract oil from Myrica gale an indigenous Scottish plant more commonly known as Bog myrtle.
Boots has struck a long-term contract with the company to supply them with the oil for use in cosmetic and healthcare products giving the potential to add differentiation and value to their brands.
Mr Lochhead said:
"By using a naturally thriving Scottish plant to provide local employment and prospects further afield, Essentially Scottish Botanicals is a business which ticks all of the boxes.
"And with Boots increasingly stocking products containing sustainably sourced ingredients Bog myrtle is a perfect example of what Scotland has to offer. Bog myrtle, or Myrica gale, can be used in a multitude of goods from cosmetics to sun care and even has the potential for use in household and veterinary products.
"Scotland has historically been a global leader in innovation and what could be more innovative than using the oil of an almost uniquely Scottish plant?
"I have every confidence this business has the potential to become Scotland's newest success story and wish the company the very best for the future. I look forward to the day when these products are on store shelves in Scotland and beyond."
Essentially Scottish Botanicals (ESB) was formed by Tech Crops International (TCI) a long established supplier to Boots.
Boots have supplied ESB with a long-term contract to supply the oils with periodic review opportunities. In addition to the cost of the oil supplied Boots will also pay £250,000 in each of the first three years to assist with start-up costs.
The contract providing grant assistance to ESB was finalised last month. Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) will pay £498,000 toward overall expenditure of three million pounds in respect of capital costs; research and development and working capital.
Oil samples have been tested on a daily basis with the assistance of Boots research and development facility. A key discovery has been the fact that more oil is derived from dry plants than fresh.
A three year agreement with the Agronomy Institute in Orkney worth £313,000 is aiding this testing process. This secures work on a full-time basis for one PhD student assisted by four others on a part-time basis. The University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) Millennium Institute is committed to £94,000 of the overall cost and Boots to the balance.