Further to the letter you published on the 1st March from Calum Iain Maciver, Development
Director of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, I would like to set out the crofters view
as Clerk of Melbost and Branahuie Grazings Committee.
We are one of the crofting townships which has submitted an application to build
community turbines on our common grazings under Section 50 of the Crofting Act.
It is extremely regrettable that EDF have chosen to engage in a legal confrontation
with our shareholders over the right to build turbines on our common grazings.
It is simply wrong for a giant multinational like EDF - or a landowner like the Stornoway
Trust - to try and take away our common grazings without our consent. It is even
more regrettable that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have taken the side of that multinational
against our crofting communities.
We believe our position is both reasonable and legal. We want to use our common
grazing, along with the villages of Sandwick North Street, Sandwick East Street &
Lower Sandwick and Aiginish, to develop a total of 21 community-owned turbines. This
is our right under Section 50B of the Crofting Act.
Success for the crofters will not affect in any way EDF's plans to build 60 turbines
elsewhere on Lewis, nor will it harm in any way the case for the interconnector.
The total number of turbines on Lewis will remain the same - a total of 95 turbines
- regardless of whether the 21 turbines on our grazings are community-owned or not.
In fact, we believe that the more community turbines there are, the stronger the
case for the interconnector in the eyes of both Government and the taxpayer.
This is not a self-interested ploy by the crofters for themselves or their own group
of villages. On the contrary, the crofters will get the same rent income whoever
builds the turbines. The difference that community ownership makes is what happens
to the profit which will be re-invested by the crofters back into all of the communities
of the Western Isles.
Our concern is for the long-term economic benefit of the whole of the Western Isles
and that is why we support community ownership of the turbines on our grazings.
The four townships will therefore continue to resist the attempt by EDF to seize
their grazings in the Land Court.
The crofters are mindful that if they win, they will not only ensure that they will
deliver a guaranteed 21 community turbines for the islands, they will also set a
tremendous legal precedent for other crofting communities across the whole of the
Highlands and Islands.
This is a landmark fight and everyone in the islands who wants to see real economic
progress and real economic benefit in the islands should support the four crofting