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A global renewables entrepreneur is backing the community involved in a Lewis wind turbine battle.


Thursday is the deadline for objections to the Scottish Land Court about Lewis Wind Power’s hostile bid to build on the common grazings around Stornoway with or without the consent of the crofters.  


French-owned multinational EDF has gone to the Land Court despite opposition from at least four Lewis villages.


The David and Goliath battle focuses on crofters’ rights to use rough pasture to generate electricity.


Sandwick North Street, Sandwick East Street, Melbost, and Aiginish grazings committees in Lewis say their plans to build community turbines on their own common grazings are blocked by Lewis Wind Power.


Lewis Wind Power (LWP) is a joint venture between French-owned EDF Energy and Amec Foster Wheeler which wants to erect 36 generators on rough grazings west of Marybank outside Stornoway.


It also owns the rights to the Eishken windfarm giving it a combined total of 342 megawatt capacity on Lewis.


Landlord Stornoway Trust has angered crofters - by awarding the corporate giant a 70-year lease.


But LWP does not have crofters’ permission and has gone directly to the Land Court to suppress crofters’ rights and build its corporate turbines on the disputed land.


The four island townships fear a legal decision could be made before the Crofting Commission concludes an application from the crofters lodged a year ago.


Crofters’ turbines are earmarked for the same spots as LWP’s proposed machines but the Crofters’ Commission has delayed about allowing the crofters rights to develop on their own grazings.


If the Land Court first makes makes a judgment in favour of Lewis Wind Power the crofters’ applications will be moot as they will have lost the site development rights for 70 years.


Steve McDonald, who co-founded Sgurr Energy which has now been bought by Wood Group, has been involved in technical advice to companies all over the world over building wind farms.


His company’s past projects include Whitelee, the UK’s largest onshore wind farm and Salkhit, the first turbine scheme in Mongolia.


Mr MacDonald said: “I’m a big supporter of community schemes because it keeps the money in the Highlands. We’ve always been big pushers of community owned schemes.”


Steve Macdonald says the LWP scheme would be a bad return on investment to the taxpayer if the UK government was to finance the £800 million subsea cable to export their electricity if the bulk of the profits would go overseas.


LWP is half French-owned so most of the revenue will go abroad (if the LWP scheme is successful) and I don’t think that’s a good return on investment to the UK taxpayer, he said.


“As a taxpayer I would prefer that my money was recirculated instead of going abroad and you wouldn’t get away with this anywhere else in the world.”


However, large outside 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.


And without the interconnector not one more turbines will be built as the local grid is already at maximum capacity.


Steve MacDonald believes community owned schemes are the “perfect model.”


The townships that seek to develop their own schemes are being advised by Calum Macdonald who played a key role in turning Point and Sandwick Trust’s wind farm dream into a reality.


Calum Macdonald says grass roots community wind farms return up to ten times more money into the local community compared to commercial schemes.

across the islands.


The four villages are urging people to send in objections over the LWP scheme to the Scottish Land Court, 126 George Street, Edinburgh by Thursday’s deadline.



Land Court deadline for objections against corporate windfarm

19 August 2017

Crofters want to build community wind schemes