The first windfarm for the Western Isles has been approved by Western Isles Council. It consists of 13 turbines, to be built on the Eishken estate, some 10 miles southeast of Balallan.
A deal has also been struck between Eishken's owner and Western Isles Council to the effect that 1.5% of the revenue generated from the windfarm will go towards the local community. This amounts to some £14m.
Construction of the turbines, each standing some 500 ft tall, is dependent on the building of the so-called interconnector, which should transport the electricity generated away to the National Grid.
This project is a subset of a larger windfarm, 53 turbines, which is subject to a public inquiry. This was held in Stornoway in May, but will not come to a decision much before the end of the year.
I have consistently voiced my opposition to this scheme, arguing it is a backdoor approach to wheedle in the larger windfarm. Bearing in mind the rubber-stamp attitude, displayed by Western Isles Council over the past few years towards windfarms, the approval of this scheme was a foregone conclusion. Saying this carries huge community benefits is not exactly accurate. Yes, it will generate £14 million for the community. But in order to share in these boons, villagers have to cough up £6 million first. It also destroys the visual amenity of the Lochs area, and all along Loch Seaforth, which circles the Eishken estate to the north, west and south. Visual amenity (the views) as well as unspoiled natural habitats are hugely attractive to present-day visitors. Allowing the habitats to be destroyed makes WIC's commitment towards stewardship of their natural environment a complete mockery.
It would appear that the chiefs of the natives have been appeased with beads and mirrors, to give away the family silver.