Donside Hydro & Park

about the project

project summary

The project is run by the residents of Donside Village through two not for profit organisations they established:

1) Aberdeen Community Energy (ACE) – a Community Benefit Society ACE relates to item 1 below.

2) Donside Community Village (DVC) – a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation  The DVC relates to item 2 below.

The project is two-part, split along organisation lines, as follows:

1) Build, own and operate a 100kW run-of-river micro hydro scheme on the River Don in Donside Village / Tillydrone, Aberdeen. One of Scotland’s most deprived communities. The purpose of which is to:

  • Provide a community level response to addressing climate change
  • Improve the local environment for people and wildlife
  • Provide a sustainable income to local communities

All the above helping to build a sustainable local community. The construction is mostly complete and the project is now moving into the educational phase. 

2) Design, develop and manage Donside Park, on the land surrounding the Donside Hydro. This part of the project is in the early development stage. 

The target audiences are many and diverse, from residents to schools to investors, to politicians. The projects attempt to work on a proximity principle.The immediate audience/beneficiaries are the communities of Donside Village and wider Tillydrone.Then considering the wider population of Aberdeen City & region.
Beyond that, this project has also engaged with people across the UK and beyond through community level fundraising (share & bond offers).

Project partners include:

  • Local Energy Scotland
  • Highland Eco-Design Limited
  • MannPower Consulting
  • Weber Shandwick
  • HBJ Gateley
  • DEP Landscape Initiatives
  • Aberdeen City Council

history/background/project status

Donside Village is located on the banks of the River Don. The River Don is an important green / blue corridor running from coast to country in Aberdeen. Once a polluted, industrial river with mills littering its length. Now, the mills are all but gone and it is home to communities new and old, businesses, knowledge institutes, parks and natural / semi-natural landscapes abundant with diverse wildlife.

Donside Village is playing its part in this transition from old to new, through a lens of sustainable development; connecting history, place, people and wildlife. It’s doing this alongside other local initiatives, such as:

  • Friends of Seaton Park and the Seaton Park Wetland Project
  • Tillydrone Community Development Trust and redevelopment of the Wallace Tower
  • Aberdeen City Council regeneration, including the long-distance Donside Way.

Together, these initiatives are more than their parts, bringing the corridor to life and bringing new life to the communities of people and wildlife in a myriad of ways.

The community and projects are in a regeneration area, housing one of the most deprived communities in Scotland. The Village is on the site of a former papermill where a social landlord developed this new, mixed tenure community. Plans for the community included a micro hydro energy station to power the village. 

Once the new community moved in, and with the help of the then social landlord, they quickly established a community organisation to strengthen community cohesion and sense of place. They did this through organising a series of projects, event and activities to bring the community together.

Unfortunately, the original social landlord was subsumed into a larger organisation who presented differing objectives. Many of the facilities that were originally planned, i.e. the hydro, were shelved.

The community has consistently refused to passively accept the status quo and have stepped in to deliver on the things the social landlord doesn’t. This has led to the community building the hydro themselves and buying riverside amenity land from the social landlord to develop into a community park for people and wildlife.


project outcomes

  • Remediate & develop a former contaminated brownfield site
  • Improved landscape & amenities for people & wildlife
  • Improved access
  • Retaining history of the site through preservation and interpretation of local heritage features
  • Building skills, knowledge and confidence of individuals across deprived communities
  • Empowerment of wider communities in deprived areas
  • Improved inclusion and social cohesion
  • Decreased isolation by building sense of connection & place for local people and communities
  • Improved health & wellbeing through exploration, play, recreation & education
  • Increased sense of personal and community pride through delivering flagship projects of national value.

contact details

Contact Person: Sinclair Laing, Chair ACE Jane Fullerton, Chair DVC
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project details

project location

Address: Donside Village, Tillydrone
Riverside off Papermill Drive/Avenue
AB24 2PD
Area Covered:

local authority area(s)

  • Aberdeen City

project types

  • Multi-functional (Primary)
  • Access
  • Accessibility
  • Audit
  • Biodiversity
  • Capacity Building
  • Climate Change
  • Community Ownership/ mngt
  • Consultation & Engagement
  • Economic Development
  • Education
  • Growing
  • Health
  • Historical
  • Interpretation
  • Landscape Enhancement
  • Lifelong Learning
  • Play
  • Recreation
  • Regeneration
  • Volunteering
  • Water mngt

site types

  • Amenity greenspace (Primary)
  • Commercial & business
  • Communal area
  • Community growing space
  • Derelict/Brownfield
  • Facilities for young people
  • Green corridors & green networks
  • Linear greenspaces
  • Natural/Semi-natural greenspace
  • Playspaces
  • Public Parks and Gardens
  • Water & blue space
  • Woodland

google map