No more community turbines will be built on Lewis unless it is on the back of large
corporate winds farms warns Lewis Wind Power (LWP).
With the local grid at maximum capacity, privately owned companies are required to
invest in building big wind schemes on Lewis to provide the critical mass to allow
the interconector to be constructed, says LWP.
Four Lewis grazings committees are challenging the company over the right to develop
renewable energy schemes on their own common grazings outside Stornoway.
The next stage of the dispute will be decided by the Scottish Land Court in what
is the first case of its kind.
Crofters will receive “fair” compensation for hosting LWP turbines on their pasture
land, west of Stornoway.
LWP is a joint venture between EDF Energy Renewables and AMEC Foster Wheeler which
intends to build 36 turbines on the moorland by Marybank.
Sandwick North, Sandwick East Street, Melbost, and Aiginish grazings committees say
they hold a legal right to build turbines on part of the land, pointing out community-owned
renewable developments reinvest vastly more profit per turbine locally.
Landowner, the Stornoway Trust, would receive equal rent for the community turbines
as from the corporate giant.
Unlike corporate wind farms, all the profit from their developments will go back
into the community and benefit the whole of the Western Isles, highlight the villlages.
A Lewis Wind Power (LWP) spokesperson said: ““Electricity generation projects cannot
go ahead on the Isle of Lewis until there is significant investment in the electricity
network on the island which is running at full capacity.
Any investment can only be triggered by a ‘critical mass’ of new generation, specifically
remote island wind, which has secured support, she added.
The UK government has confirmed its intention to financially support island wind
EDF expects this to be done through a ‘Contract for Difference (a “CFD”).
Only projects that have planning consent, a grid connection and meet other criteria
for remotes island wind projects “are likely to be eligible to bid” for the subsidy,
The two Lewis Wind Power projects, the Stornoway wind farm and the Uisenis wind farm
have both planning permission and grid connection agreements and “have the best potential
to contribute” towards this critical mass.
Once this network investment has been made, there will be spare capacity for other
new projects, including new community projects, added the company.
There is “considerable local support” for these projects, with a poll showing seven
in ten people are supportive of wind farms on the islands.”
The LWP projects offer community benefits of £6-9 million a year (including income
from the community taking stakes in the projects) and in a commissioned report for
EDF Energy Renewables, consultants BVG Associates found there would be a total of
£400 million accrued in benefits to the Western Isles over the course of the wind
The BVG report indicated over 600 people would be employed at the peak of construction
work for of the wind farms and the grid connection.
The spokesperson said the bid to the Scottish Land Court is a S19a application which
is a “normal part of due process” for wind farm developments on crofted land.
She added: “The Land Court will make sure the crofters on the Stornoway wind farm
land get a fair deal in respect of the income they will receive in return for having
wind farm infrastructure on their land.
“Our proposal to the Land Court has been negotiated and agreed between advisors who
represented the majority of the crofters on the wind farm site.”
Full details of the LWP application, and details of how it can be responded to, is
available on the LWP website, she added.
The spokesperson continued: “Figures from an ICM poll carried out independently for
EDF Energy Renewables between 3 and 8 January of 1,000 adults on the Isle of Lewis.”
Crofters’ turbines “need” corporate windfarms for subsea cable