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The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) is backing four Lewis crofting villages currently battling two multinationals for the right to develop wind turbines on their common grazings.


Sandwick North, Sandwick East Street, Melbost as well as Aiginish grazings committees are prevented from building their community wind farms on their own pasture by Marybank as multinational-owned Lewis Wind Power (LWP) - has ignored opposition from the crofters concerned.


LWP - a joint venture between French-owned EDF and Amec-Foster-Wheeler - wants the Land Court to over-rule crofters’ rights and award permission to develop 36 turbines to the corporate giant.


Over 200 objections against LWP’s actions have been submitted to the Land Court.


Patrick Krause, chief executive of the SC, said the bid LWP’s is a “hostile intrusion” on crofters’ rights.


He insisted whatever the development on croft land, crofters with an interest “must be consulted and must be in majority agreement.”


He added: “SCF has taken the view that community-led schemes for development are generally preferable to developments led by large commercial interests, being more directly beneficial to the community.”


Last year the four townships applied for permission from the Crofting Commission to build nine turbines across the common grazings area but the crofting regulator has delayed making a decision.


Mr Krause said the commission should make a speedy decision "decisively and in empathy with the crofting community.”


Another voice from the Crofting Federation, director Donald MacKinnon, urged the Land Court to “pause” its proceedings and wait for the outcome from the Crofting Commission.


Rhoda Mackenzie, spokeswoman for Sandwick North Street, said: “I am critical of the Commission in the delay in dealing with this, but I suppose, in a way, that’s because it’s a test case. It’s a bold move for the commission to take because it changes the future of crofting, so they are probably nervous about it.”


“If we win this (development rights clause), it is a landmark case for all crofting grazings committees to develop and that’s probably why the Commission is taking so long about it because it will change the face of crofting. It will give crofting back a future.”


Lewis Wind Power (LWP) insists their projects on Lewis provide the critical mass needed to build the proposed subsea to the mainland. Without their schemes no more community turbines will be built on Lewis as the local grid at maximum capacity.


The LWP scheme by Stornoway and the Uisenis wind farm offer community benefits of £6-9 million a year (including income from the community taking stakes in the projects) it says.


In a commissioned report for EDF, consultants found there would be a total of £400 million accrued in benefits to the Western Isles over the course of the wind farm life.






Crofting Federation backs townships in landmark windfarm row

21 Sept 2017