What a coincidence that two supporters of the Lewis wind power project, Alasdair Morrison, MSP, and David Hodkinson of Amec, write to your paper on the same day (January 6) attacking two parties who dare to oppose them. The SNP and the RSPB can answer for themselves, but there is one large group of opponents both your correspondents fail to mention.
Although Lewis Wind Power has managed to persuade a small number of leading politicians in the islands of its case, it has not managed to persuade the people who would be directly affected by its wind farm.
Despite a number of expensive roadshows round the area, with leading PR people from Amec and British Energy, and big glossy advertisements in the local press, the people remain resolutely against them.
More than 4500 local objections have already been made to this massive wind farm proposal, and every community council and every councillor in the affected areas voted against it. Mr Morrison and a few leading lights in the council consistently refuse to acknowledge this. They persuaded councillors from parts of the islands not directly affected by this wind farm to vote for it, by telling them of the many benefits that would flow to their areas from it. The SNP and the LibDems in the Western Isles both recognise that this is a travesty of democracy, and we are grateful that both these parties have the courage to speak out against it.
We are also very grateful to the RSPB for caring about our environment as we ourselves do, deeply. For people in other parts of Britain who value their local special protection areas, take heed. If a precedent is set by allowing a wind farm on the Lewis Peatlands SPA, none will be safe.
Catriona Campbell, 1 North Bragar, Isle of Lewis.
Unusual as it must be for your readers to see an incumbent MSP launch an attack on an as-yet-unelected candidate, I will take this behaviour by Alasdair Morrison as the compliment it was almost certainly not intended, and am very happy to respond. Mr Morrison, Labour MSP for the Western Isles ““ probably the most precariously placed Labour MSP anywhere in Scotland ““ tilts (January 5) at the subject of wind farms.
He has evidently decided, somewhat controversially, that the people of the Western Isles cannot be trusted to have any direct say over whether the biggest wind farms in the world should be built in their midst. Like many in the islands, I am strongly in favour of renewables being exploited here but have serious concerns about the scale and impact of the developments at present proposed, as well as doubts about their long-term community benefit. I am far from alone in that.
This is the biggest and most controversial planning development seen in Scotland in recent years. It is an exceptional situation demanding an exceptional solution. So it seems reasonable that the people should have some direct say.
When the Scottish Executive is replaced in May, its successor should ensure that the final say is given to the people, and if terms can be agreed with the local community then local referendums should be held, failing which a time-limited public inquiry.
Nobody is talking about extending a referendum to every planning situation in Scotland. There is nothing else either so massive or so controversial at a community level, and the SNP’s actions would reflect this reality.
The SNP in the islands has long been clear that the councillors are in the midst of a quasi-judicial planning process in which party political whipping from on high is not appropriate, or indeed legal. Councillor Nicolson is therefore entitled to his differing view.
Mr Morrison, who was recently quoted at length in one of the press releases of Amec (one of the developers), is nonetheless curiously unwilling to discuss his own position on wind farms in any detail. Is he now saying that he is so uncritically in favour of Amec’s planning proposals that he is opposed to the people having their say?
Alasdair Allan, SNP Parliamentary Candidate, Western Isles, 54b Vatisker, Isle of Lewis.
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