Thursday, 14 January 2010

Eishken Windfarm approved

The Scottish Government has granted approval for 33 windturbines to be constructed for the Muaitheabhal project. Each turbine will stand 450 feet tall, and their combined output (118 megawatts) is reported sufficient to power 55,000 homes. That is several times the number of homes in the Western Isles.

Objections from the John Muir Trust on account of visual impact of the machines have been sidestepped by reducing the number of turbines from 39 to 33. Reactions on BBC Radio Scotland Highlands and Islands this afternoon varied widely. The Scottish Energy Minister stated that this first major windfarm in the Western Isles would grant the islands their place in the renewable energy sector. Others asserted that the decision made a mockery of the recent Local Public Inquiry.

I have made my position on this issue patently clear, as being opposed. This is founded on the visual impact in combination with the effects on wildlife. It also strikes me that the Scottish Government is prejudiced, bearing in mind that one of its advisors on renewable energy is actually a high-ranking official within one of the power companies that will develop this scheme.

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has hailed this announcement as a major boost for the Western Isles. In my perspective, they have fallen for the beads and mirrors flashed in front of them by the developers of the Muaitheabhal project. Yes, there will be a few million pounds a year for the Comhairle. But the major winners are the developers and the Eishken landowner.

Anyone who thinks that this will eradicate the islands' economic woes at a stroke is seriously at variance with reality. Job benefits will only last for the duration of the construction of the windfarm, and I wonder how many islanders will be getting a job out of it. Maintaining the windfarm only requires a handful of people.The islands' economy could arguably suffer through the windfarm, as it might deter visitors. They come here for an unspoilt wilderness, not to see an industrial estate.

I wonder what the European Union will think of this project, which will have adverse effects on wildlife; on a species of bird that are protected, and any threat to their habitat posed by such a scheme should by default lead to it being turned down. Not so, it would seem.

Once more, big money has spoken. It did so with the Beauly - Denny powerline upgrade, and has done so here. This is not for the benefit of the Western Isles. The Eishken Windfarm is a development to the islands' detriment.


  1. Surely it is for the benefit of the country as a whole? When last I looked, the Western Isles had not seceded from the UK:-)

  2. Quite right Arnish. The public inquiry was a sham.

    The benefit for the country would be for just one tiny part of it to be free of turbines. See if they would approve them on Hampstead Heath, which is in London by the way.

  3. I think we most of us ken where Hampstead Heath is but thanks for the reminder. It is a piece of very precious green space in a very large conurbation. Lewis is a piece of very large bog which is unable to sustain its population or keep its young people.

  4. "Lewis is a piece of very large bog which is unable to sustain its population or keep its young people."

    Actually this is the new Stornoway Tourist Board slogan for 2010.

    As for the Eishken issue, think BIG PICTURE people. Not just the picturesque view from your window.

    Today I have the sort of feeling I imagine most pro-Sunday sailings folk must have had when the Isle of Lewis pulled anchor on the Sabbath.

    Makes me feel dirty.

    In a good way.


  5. I suspect, Arnish, that you may be correct on one count, that not many local people will directly get jobs from, or through, the windfarm industry, but surely there is usually a boost to a local economy even with an influx of non local workers?
    (After reading KC's description of Lewis, I am pure gagging to get up for a visit ,by the way...l:)

  6. Actually, Lewis is a very beautiful place and not all bog. I don't link to my personal sites on here, but you only need to read back through my postings over the past 4 years to see my point.

    Yes, I acknowledge that sometimes the few have to suffer for the benefit of the many. Apart from the reasons given in my post, I also feel that the lack of political clout these islands have (both our parliamentarians carry a striking resemblance to a chocolate fireguard) contributed to them being foisted with these monstrosities.

    The big picture, The Croft, is the size of the wallet of SSE and the Eishken owner. The rest is window dressing and talking the talk. However, we have agreed to disagree on this issue previously.

    I still maintain that even with these windfarms, Lewis will still have a problem with young people moving away.

  7. As with the Sunday sailing issue, one windfarm will not be a panacea for the island's ills but it is a necessary step in the right direction however hard it is for some to swallow. It will be interesting to hear opinions once the financial benefits to your local community begin to appear.

  8. Bearing in mind that the windfarm is here to come, we'll indeed have to wait and see if and when the promised benefits materialise.