The Scottish Government last Friday made the right choice for Lewis – a difficult choice in the current climate, I’m sure, but the right choice none the less, and for all the right reasons. I and many others would now encourage the ministers to be brave and take some other hard decisions whilst the urge is upon them, and to write three more letters – two in the same vein as Friday’s to Lewis Wind Power. These two don’t need to be 14 pages long; a paragragh will suffice. The headers could say that the government is mindful to reject the other two large wind-farm schemes proposed for Lewis. One should go to Nicolas Oppenheim (Beinn Mhor Power), private landlord of Eisgein Estate; the other to SSE for their proposed scheme for the Pairc District.
The other letter that could be written should be kept for the appropriate moment. That will be when the application for the Siadar Wave Energy Project lands on the ministers’ desks. This project is the only one in the Western Isles to date which has progressed its way through the various official and public channels without outrage or controversy. It was first mooted by the local Shader Pier Group from the west side of Lewis, is being taken forward by NPower and Wavegen, and hopefully in the fullness of time will be consented.
It’s time to let the Western Isles move on from large, harmful projects and for islanders to find their own solutions to their economic problems. No amount of pleading can fulfil the aspirations of the people and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar should now recognise this and move on and try to find fixes for the other social problems that beset us such as education provision for present and future generations and the public health of the community.
Time also for the local authority to recognise and act on its commissioned research, to act on the Outer Hebrides Migration Study, the Hi-Trans Study and to take forward Community Energy Projects. That should be enough to be going on with for a small group of islands. The Western Isles cannot take on the energy needs of society as a whole.
Iain Macleod, 22 Lower Shader, Isle of Lewis.
28 January 2008
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