In the wake of the rejection of the planning application for the North Lewis Windfarm, Western Isles Council has protested that it acted in the best interest of the islands. Even though the vast majority of people were opposed to the scheme, the Council steadfastly held firm to its convictions and attempted to force the scheme through.
It is of course a local authority's duty to keep an eye on the greater picture and endeavour to do the best for its area. However, the primary reason for rejection for the windfarm was in evidence from 2004 onwards, when the planning application was launched. It is therefore far from the islands' interests to have millions of pounds squandered on a planning application which was fatally flawed from day one.
From my personal perspective, it is breathtakingly myopic to put one's eggs all in the one basket (that of wind energy), and not take a broader view. I had an inkling of hope in the wake of the announcement by the Scottish Energy Minister that he was rejecting the application, when the Vice-Convener announced that he was disappointed, but that a wider view would now be adopted in its renewables policy. Not so, I have to note.
On May 13th, a public inquiry will be launched into the Eishken Windfarm application, in which the Council is reported to be scathing about the RSPB - which is not allowed to speak at the inquiry. The Eishken Windfarm is in close proximity to a designated National Scenic Area. Following a number of amendments, the Council has approved a scheme of 53 turbines.
There is yet hope for those who are opposed to the idea of windfarms in Lewis. If an interconnector is not deemed to be viable now that the North Lewis scheme has fallen through, the other two windfarms (Park and Eishken) will not be able to be built.