The vast renewable energy resource in the Western lsles must be properly harnessed, Jim Mather said today.
The Energy Minister today announced a study to examine how to derive economic and community benefit from renewable energy developments, while respecting environmental obligations.
Speaking at the Comhairle’s Energy Summit in Stornoway today, Mr Mather said:
“The Western Isles have a vast and enviable resource to develop renewable energy – from onshore wind to energy from wave and tide.
“There must be renewable energy development across the Isles if we are to ensure that the opportunities and benefits of a renewables revolution can be shared fairly across Scotland.
“At the same time, the Western Isles also enjoys an outstanding natural environment which is protected in places under European law. We must find a way to ensure developments proceed in harmony with environmental obligations.
“I can today announce that we are working with the Council to carry out a study of how renewable energy and other projects can deliver economic and community benefit to the Western Isles while remaining consistent with conservation obligations.
“We have asked the Comhairle, HIE, SNH and SEPA and other stakeholders to work with us and help conduct a study to be ready by the autumn.
“When completed, the study will set the stage for sustainable development to provide a base for economic, social and community renewal on the islands.”
The key objectives of the study are:
* To identify renewable energy potential, including the role of different scales of commercial and community-based wind farms and hydro schemes. It should seek to outline the extent, in scale and timescale, to which this potential can deliver economic and community development compatible with environmental obligations
* And on a similar basis, to identify other opportunities for sustainable development initiatives at different scales which might contribute to delivering economic and community benefit compatible with environmental obligations
* Produce a report and recommendations for action at a community rather than individual site level
This will help parallel work being done by the Comhairle on locational guidance for windfarms. The study will not consider individual planning applications nor site specific proposals.
17 March 2008
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