Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Stornoway Windfarm

Two years ago, the Scottish Government refused planning permission for a 181-turbine windfarm stretching from Port of Ness in the north of Lewis through Bragar south to Stornoway. The developers, AMEC, have now announced they are considering a smaller development of some 30 turbines, stretching from the Pentland Road in the north to Achmore and Loch Leurbost in the south and points east of this line across the Arnish Moor to the coast. Hebrides News, which is the source of this story, points out the environmental impact this development is likely to have - and that the same arguments for rejection will apply that were used in 2008 against AMEC's larger developments further north.

AMEC have also not booked 'space' on the Gravir to Dundonnell interconnector, as they were originally going to put in a cable linking the former development to Hunterston, 250 miles away in Ayrshire.

I gather that the Stornoway Trust would be quite happy to have this development in its territory - and I dig up the phrases I used in the years 2005-2008 when voicing my opposition to the big windfarm on this blog. Blinded by money, with hopefully good intentions of furthering the island's economy in mind - but likely to be taken to the cleaners by AMEC.

I wonder when people are going to learn from their mistakes. Are we going to be in for another number of years of wasted money on developments that are going to be turned down at any rate? It was clear that the 181-turbine plan was going to be turned down from the moment the planning application was lodged - as the Comhairle should have known. I'm sure they are going to rubberstamp this fantastic development as they have done with the Eishken windfarm - and they are once more going to come out with egg on their faces at the end of the process.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Town Hall refurbishment

There has been a silence of several months surrounding the controversial refurbishment of Stornoway Town Hall. Hebrides News is now reporting that the Scottish Government has passed the plans, as submitted and later amended by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. The group of people who are opposed are incensed and have lodged complaints with the Standards Commission against the Comhairle. Individual officials and councillors are also being investigated for possible censure over their handling of the plans.

I won't go over old ground again, save to restate my non-opposition to the refurbishment plans.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Tidebell installed

Following a flutter of comments on a post on the proposed Time and Tide Bell at Bosta, dated 18 January this year, I thought I'd better bring matters up to date. Today's Stornoway Gazette reports on the inauguration of the Bell last Saturday, and by all accounts (including those in the comments section on my January post), it was a great and well attended event.

I want to make it clear that my initial posting was my view on the proposal for the Bell. Now that the installation is in place, it only remains for me to express my wish that it will draw more people to Bernera to see the beauty of Bosta, apparently none the worse for the bell on the beach.

I want to make an observation on the matter of formal objections to the planning application for the Bell. It was suggested that only "English" people, not long resident in Bernera (or Lewis for that matter) had lodged formal objections. I'm conversant with the phenomenon of the white settler (not meaning the Island Blogger of that name), who wishes to stifle change in order to maintain the quaint atmosphere of cosy decay. Some private landowners in the northwest of Scotland are / were good at that. Many people come to stay in the Outer Hebrides as a last vestige of pure wildness, nature untamed &c, and would not like to see that image tainted. I suppose my own objection to the Time & Tide Bell fell into that category.

However, I do not feel it is quite in order to single out individuals for being "English", "Scottish" or whatever. Those who live in Lewis do so by choice, or by virtue of birth. Their provenance is irrelevant. Whether your cradle stood in Breacleit, Braemar or Bromsgrove - if you live in Lewis, you're an islander.

Oh for goodness sakes, AL, get real. People will pidgeonhole :-)

Friday, 4 June 2010

Pairc buy-out

The community buy-out in Pairc, now running into its 6th year, is twisting into the strangest contortions. After attempting to allegedly spread misinformation amongst those in the community who are not very happy with the Pairc Trust (the body conducting the buy-out process), the landlord is now presenting a bill for a trifling three-quarter of a million pound to the Trust. Failing that, to the Scottish Government.

I tend to agree with the Pairc Trust that the estate owner is now finally revealing his true colours, if they had not already been patently clear beforehand. The community buy-out in Pairc (South Lochs) is taking an inordinate amount of time, with many attempts at thwarting and frustrating the process.

I hope the Scottish Government will finally put its money where its mouth is and bankroll the Pairc Trust rather than the outgoing landlord.