Friday, 4 September 2009

Eishken Windfarm

The Eishken Windfarm has been approved by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, without debate and by rubberstamp. What is really shocking is the so-called community element in the proposals, which have been swallowed by our local authority without question.

The few hundred souls in the Lochs area are expected to cough up some twenty-five million pounds in order to benefit from the turbines, allocated to them. It was not a free gift, it will require that mind-boggling sum. How on earth an economically fragile area like Lochs is going to generate that amount of capital defies even my rich imagination.

It is one thing that the developer has wreathed this aspect in mist until quite recently. It is a dereliction of duty on the part of our elected representatives for not questioning or properly scrutinise the proposals on at least that aspect. As I feared, the planning application was passed on the nod, as the Comhairle has this fixation with shore-based windfarms, dating back to 2004. They will have their windfarm, even if it means financial ruin for their own constituents. At this time of economic recession, any promise of jobs, however meagre, will act as a lure for the unsuspecting local authority. It is breathtaking that the Comhairle has fallen for it. They have even gone so far as to request an upgrade to the interconnector (the subsea electricity cable) to the mainland. The way our local authority has handled the planning process should be the object of censure. The developer kept changing and changing the proposals, reacting to objections. No fewer than four versions of the planning application were rubberstamped by the local authority. It should have scuttled the entire project before now.

There are a few points left at which this whole project could be jettisoned. The Scottish Government is to give final approval. The windfarm can only be built if the Beauly to Denny electricity transmission link is upgraded, which is far from certain due to fierce opposition in the Highlands. The same applies to the link between Dundonnell and Beauly.

Not since the resolution of the crisis in the Western Isles Health Board in 2007 has the Arnish Lighthouse blog expressed its dismay at a local issue in such strong terms. But should the Eishken Windfarm ever come to be built, it can safely be said that the Comhairle has sold us down the river.


  1. As a member of the Lochs community I won't be coughing up anything for community turbines. The amazing thing about this is that the money to pay for these things will be creamed from funds that would have been spent on smaller, and more relevant community projects. And then, the so called profits will be paid straight back into Angus Campbell's back pocket. Oh sorry, I meant to say the WIDT (another mysterious black hole for cash). It will take years to re-pay the costs on these developments and by that time some of the perpertrators of this rubbish will either be dead or living on the Seychelles. Like you Arnish, I am very very p'd off with the whole sorry mess. Did anyone else see the bonkers letter from the Angus Campbell of S.Uist on Heb News? If this person is so convinced that wind turbines will provide jobs for blue blooded Hebrideans, then he can have them dropped into his back yard. He is not interested in birds or scenery so he should be quite pleased with 145m turbines. Why indeed does he live in a rural area if he doesn't appreciate it? Enough already, I feel like giving up and leaving them all to it.

  2. Stunned by decision making of CNES. As Lochs resident, am very concerned about the potential impact and as for the Community Project, I can only laugh.....its all bonkers!!!
    As to jobs in the area...I don't think much or any local jobs will be created/secured as I suspect crews brought in as/by sub-contractors will all be housed on sites in portacabins for contract duration...Lets just hope this farce just gets knocked back by Scottish Executive or European overlords!!!!..RJG

  3. words fail me ...

  4. We are not alone:

  5. Arnish forgive my indulgence......LadyGG, great pic of Gravir Towers surrounded by triffids....many thanks.....RJG

  6. Yet another utterly inane article from Peter Hitchens...

  7. To the Croft; If you truly believe that any of what you say will come to pass, then I'm Peter Mandelsons love child. I hope you are having a laugh because our local trust/committee can't even sort themsleves out let alone a multi million pound 'green' energy project. One of them is a bankrupt having taken two of his own companies into administration (that we know of). And CNES...come are having a laugh, aren't you?

  8. If I believe that the funding for the community turbines will come from banks and not your pockets? Of course it will.

    That Lochs will shortly be rolling in it? £400K+ annually from the main site plus 70% of the profits on their own predicted £12m a year revenue makes it look likely. And all earmarked to go back into your area. You lot will be sprinkling caviar on your brose and cutting peats with gold tairsgeirs within five years :)

    And if you're unhappy with the current local trust leaders then I believe they step down after the build and you get to elect 9 shiny new ones. Anyway, the trust will be under the wing of Nick's Beinn Mhor company who'll keep them straight.

    Get on board the gravy train Ms GarGar, you know your Daddy would approve...

  9. I really do wonder if that £25m will be forthcoming all that easily. If the community element doesn't come about, Lochs get £400k per annum. A derisory sum, compared to what Nick is going to rake in. Like I said in my piece, the fee required for the community element to be engaged was not publicised until quite recently. The way CNES reached its decision made it look decidedly unscrutinised. Nobody has bothered to take a critical look at these proposals, both cons as well as pros. And if the credentials of the officials in Lochs are of the calibre suggested by Lady Gargar, I fear the worst. With all respect to The Croft, a blind rush towards the enticing gleam of gold may well turn into a 25-year nightmare. Uncle Nick knows what he is doing. CNES and the Lochs community company haven't got the foggiest.

  10. Derisory maybe but ol' Nick owns the land (unfortunately) and has plenty money and clout to create this project so obviously he gets to scoff the pie and the community get a few crumbs. Whaddya do, welcome to capitalism. But the community element is better than nowt and it WILL come about, it appears to be part and parcel of the big plan and the trust will have a nice revenue stream for it's trouble.

    As far as I'm aware, the community windfarm was always going to be self financed, this was clear as far back as 2005. As for the exact amount, I assume with the repeated changes to the scale of the plans this would have been impossible to confirm until the matter as a whole was settled.

    And I think the CNES, JMT, MWT and all the others have looked at the proposal thoroughly resulting as it has in the scheme having been cut substantially from its original plan.

    Anyway, it's not all about the trust money here. The sooner the island's embrace renewables the better. A few years of viable windpower, until the other options catch up, creating infrastructure, development opportunities, jobs, manufacturing, research and new revenue streams.

    In what respects will this become a nightmare? So what if you lose your subjectively idyllic views for a generation. There's so much more to lose otherwise.

  11. OK I do not live on one of the beautful,scottish islands: but what is better?? UGLY turbines to generate electricty or "nice clean ,nuclear fuel,which we will stock the excess in the earth for millions of years to come??????its a h*****debate

  12. The Croft, I honestly cannot agree with you. Mr Oppenheim can NOT just do as he pleases, which is the inference of your last comment, no 11. There is such a thing as a proper planning procedure.

    The Comhairle is committed to have the islands serve as a base for renewable energy. Back in 2004, it was wind energy. Five years on, there is a rising groundswell against windturbines across Scotland, precisely for the reason that it spoils the view (which is an amenity that generates £50m per annum for the islands. And that is more than the Eishken Windfarm will generate. The focus is shifting towards wave and tidal energy, which have a very limited impact on their environment, and it is time to jettison the windfarm schemes, which are opposed nationwide.

    There is such a thing as serving big money and falling for the lure of it. The contract for the Muaitheabal Trust needs to be looked at closely, to see that it really does deliver what is promised.

    Putting the turbines up on Eishken is about as catastrophic as was the decision to sell the Harris Tweed mill in Stornoway to Brian Haggas.

  13. I totally disagree. Wind energy on the is one of the greatest economic opportunities we've been given and the Comhairle knows it and is acting accordingly. They should be lauded for it. Wave and tidal are decades away from coming to market and are simply not an option in the foreseeable. Even when they do the power generated and money raised is far less than the wind option. With the island's population and economy in near terminal decline renewables and windpower are the biggest life raft going and anyone who claims to care about the island's people more than their precious views and idyllic retirement plans should be on board.

    I'm going to do a blog about this later today and we can take it up there if need be.

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