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Snug as toast at the 'Weetabix School'

Work has started on the first fully environmentally sustainable school in the Highlands.

Architects who designed the new Acharacle Primary in Ardnamurchan claim it will be so energy-efficient that body heat will keep it warm.

The building has been dubbed the "Weetabix School", because it is believed that once the children have had their breakfast, they can keep it warm all day.

Highland Council has now taken delivery of the first parts of the timber superstructure from Austria. The timber-built school will have exceptional levels of insulation, air tightness and a minimal need for heating. The total cost of the project is amp;#163;5.8 million and the school is due to open in early 2009.

Although there are plentiful supplies of timber in the Highlands, the structural frame was manufactured by, and is being erected by, Sohm Holzbautechnik GmbH of Austria because the UK does not yet have the necessary technical know-how for this kind of construction.

Dr Michael Foxley, one of the local councillors, said: "The difference between this type of building construction and others is that it has a high level of energy insulation which creates a very safe, non-toxic environment for people to live and work in. It's not a cheap project because of its location, but it is a forerunner of future sustainable projects and we will learn a lot from it."

The new school will have five classrooms, one of which is for shared community use, a nursery, a multi-purpose hall, separate dining facility, music practice rooms, changing rooms for both school and community use when the new community playing field is ready, and an entrance foyer that can be used as an extension of the school facilities and small community gatherings.

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