Friday, 31 August 2012


Comhairle nan Eilean Siar [Western Isles Council] has seen the light and scrapped the community skips. Dotted all over the islands, the green skips are available for people to dump their waste into; whether it be defunct household appliances, metal, wood - it was always there. The scrapping of this service will backfire spectacularly, because the uplift from people’s homes costs £20 for up to 5 items. Knowing the economic hardship, suffered by many islanders, we can duly expect an increase in fly-tipping.

The excuse, for excuse it is, is that the skips are a hazard for children who may be injured when they play in the skips. That is something I find less than likely; the aperture for putting stuff into the skips stands 4 feet off the ground. The reason that refuse workers may get injured through handling the contents of the skips can only be met with scorn.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


My attention has been drawn, courtesy commenter Lady Gargar, to a stakeholder consultation (PDF) by SSE on the proposed high-voltage direct current connector between Stornoway and Beauly, for the benefit of renewable energy schemes in the Outer Hebrides. Reliable sources have indicated that construction of the sub-station at Gravir could commence in September, for the cable to become operational from an extended Arnish sub-station to Beauly by 2015.

The documentation, dated June 2012, refers to the schemes in the Western Isles. SSE did announce on 8 August 2012 that the scheme in Pairc will not now go ahead. I am wondering if this invalidates their stakeholder consultation; however, I doubt whether that will thwart the plans for the cable.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

SSE withdraws from Pairc windfarm

SSE have today announced that they are withdrawing from the proposed 26-turbine 94 MW windfarm at Pairc (South Lochs) in the Isle of Lewis for environmental reasons. This is major news, for several reasons.

It is good to hear that a major player in the renewable energy market, SSE, now recognises that environmental constraints are a good reasons for not siting a windfarm in sensitive areas. Colonies of golden eagles and other raptors were at increased risk of colliding with the turbine blades. It is to be hoped that this approach will be applied to other windfarm schemes across the Scottish Highlands.

Bearing this in mind, the question could be asked whether the Muaitheabhal and Pentland Road windfarms, which have been approved, should not now be reconsidered on their environmental (de)merits. Construction of both schemes is due to begin within the next 12 months.

The implications on a local level are equally major. The Pairc windfarm was one of the schemes that would contribute towards the renewable energy output to be generated in the island, to justify the construction of the interconnector (sub sea cable) to the Scottish mainland. At present, only the Muaitheabhal windfarm in Eishken and the Pentland Road scheme appear to be contributing - and I am not certain that the threshold is now going to be met.

The potential construction of a windfarm on the Pairc Estate has been one of the stumbling blocks for progressing the community buy-out in South Lochs. Had SSE proceeded with the windfarm, this would have caused the value of the land to skyrocket out of the reach of the Pairc Trust, who have striven for nearly a decade to take the estate into community ownership. This being no longer the case, the likelihood of a successful buy-out appears to have taken a substantial boost.