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.