Residents in the remote island community of Tiree have launched a protest against a large offshore windfarm planned for the area because they believe an influx of workers could blight their rural idyll.
They say the arrival of up to 300 people in the form of staff and their families, as well as large machinery needed for the construction of the windfarm, would ruin the “quaint” lifestyle the 800 islanders currently enjoy.
In a document sent out to the islanders in the summer, developer ScottishPower Renewables said workers taking up the 100 new permanent jobs that would be created could be based on Tiree with their families – bringing in an estimated 300 new residents to the island.
But islanders fear that few of the new residents would be permanent, with the posts, which are likely to exist for the next 40 or 50 years, filled by a constant flow of temporary workers.
Karl Hughes, who has lived on the island for 12 years, has sent a memo out to islanders, urging them to protest against the development.
In it, he said: “The current population hovers around the 800 mark and is stable and viable. We have zero crime, no light pollution, single track roads – some might say Tiree is quaint, a relic from a bygone age.”
Robert Trythall, 65, who is originally from Glasgow but made a permanent move to the island with his wife five years ago, is a member of campaign group No Tiree Array.
He said: “We have had families who have moved here for one or two years but have now left – the lifestyle is wonderful for us, but is definitely not for everyone.”
He added: “The socio-economic impact of how this offshore windfarm would affect us has not been considered. In theory, it is a great idea that new people would come to the island and settle here, but in the real world of offshore windfarms, we could see a huge turnover of these families.”
The company says the site, 5km off the coast of Tiree, has the potential to generate up to 1800MW of green energy, enough to power around one million households. It admitted an influx of workers would require extra infrastructure, but said it would be unlikely to provide improvements to roads, schools or extra housing.
In a scoping document, ScottishPower said: “A rise in population where the existing population is small would place extra demands on infrastructure, in terms of, for instance, roads, schooling and medical facilities.
ScotishPower Renewables does not envisage managing the planning or build out of this ancillary structure.”
A spokesman for the company, which is due to put in a planning application in 2012, said basing workers on Tiree was one of four options put forward to the local community. Alternatives include creating a “mothership” offshore accommodation vessel for employees, or a permanent platform to house the workers. He added: “This is an opportunity to secure long term, skilled jobs for the island. We see that this project could bring long term benefits to the local community.”
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