The massive scale of the proposed Lewis wind farm not only divides the community (January 29), it has also left many of us divided within ourselves. On the one hand, we, in the industrialised west, must face the music of our energy profligacy. On the other, it seems a bit rich that Lewis has been targeted for an industrial operation that will dwarf most other features of the landscape and leave both residents and visitors alike feeling as if their heads have been thrust inside a massive gearbox.
For several years I have resisted speaking out about this. To have done so as a Lewis-raised environmentalist who is in favour of renewable energy would have felt like special pleading. But now a growing chorus of outside bodies seems to be contributing its voice to the perception that Hebridean cultural and environmental heritage is just too important to the wider world to allow it to be messed with.
Added to that, more than two-thirds of the population of the Western Isles now live on community-owned land, representing over half of the islands’ landmass. The original idea that wind farms could finance land reform is, therefore, becoming redundant except at a community scale, as on Gigha. Instead, the most important new economic stimulus for communities will be the freeing-up of land for affordable social housing, thereby reducing the usurious costs of mortgages. This means that families will not need to earn so much cash in the first place to achieve dignified living standards.
Up to 90% of local people living on Lewis do want wind power at a community scale, but not as an operation of advanced capitalism. Should we not, therefore, be putting our efforts into options for low-impact rural livelihood rather than shunting the power from desecrated beautiful landscapes down to desolate city high-rises? Should we not be learning better how to “be” so there’s no longer such profligate pressure to “have”?
Alastair McIntosh, 26 Luss Road, Glasgow.
Your article (November 29) on the Lewis wind farm debate gave both sides of the argument on whether the world’s biggest wind farm should be built in Lewis. One sentence of the article, however, is likely to provoke some response in the islands: “Labour’s Alasdair Morrison the local MSP, who is defending a majority of just 720, is a passionate supporter of the wind farm, although he does not want it imposed on the community against local will.”
I can take issue with nothing in that quote, up until the word “although”. Mr Morrison has, in fact, attacked every proposal so far put forward that would give the people any direct say in whether or not the wind farms are built. As far as anyone can tell, Mr Morrison’s position is that ministers should now approve the application – end of story. No referendum, no inquiry. If that is not imposing it on the community, I don’t know what is.
Like many people in the islands, I support renewable energy being exploited here, but cannot support 181 turbines – each bigger than Big Ben – being strung across most of Lewis. I am content to let the people decide in the end. Mr Morrison, on the basis of everything he has said and written so far, is not.
Alasdair Allan, SNP Scottish Parliamentary Candidate, Western Isles, 54B Vatisker, Isle of Lewis.
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