Imagine the public outcry if the government of a modern European country sanctioned a controversial planning application from a giant multinational company that would deprive indigenous farming people of thousands of acres of their common land – in the process destroying history, heritage and archaeology of national, if not international importance – to turn the land into an industrial wasteland.
This is precisely what would happen if the Scottish Government consented to the application by Lewis Windpower to build a giant 181-turbine wind farm on the Isle of Lewis. The Lewis Peatlands, Amec’s chosen site for the wind farm, also happens to be the common grazings shared by hundreds of crofters.
Amec, though, has no respect for this land, or the indigenous people on the land. Amec only cares about the wind that blows across it.
But the crofters don’t share Amec’s contempt for their grazings, and last year more than 730 of them wrote to the Scottish Government and the Scottish Land Court, making their opposition and objections to the Lewis wind farm explicit.
The reality, therefore, is that if the government consents to this development, an unprecedented court battle will ensue. The developer would attempt to force many hundreds of crofters off their land to make way for the wind farm; but the crofters have already told the government they will take their fight to protect their rights – enshrined in the 1886 Crofting Act – directly to the courts.
Surely the SNP ministers, who are so committed to the future of crofting, and to the preservation of the natural heritage and environment, would never sanction the destruction of thousands of acres of unique crofting landscape, and the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of Lewis crofters and their families … would they?
Isle of Lewis
17 January 2008
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