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£8 million loan for delayed South Uist windfarm

The Co-op Bank is providing £8 million of funding to allow building of the seven megawatt Lochcarnan community windfarm to commence this year.

Stòras Uibhist says the energy scheme on moorland at Iochdar Hill common grazings, will return about £1 million a year.

The scheme has also received £1 million of grant and loan from Social Investment Scotland and £2.4 million from the European Regional Development Fund.

Huw Francis, Chief Executive of Stòras Uibhist said: “The realisation of this project will transform these islands and generate significant income for re-investment over the next 20 years.”

The windfarm saga has not been without controversy. In 2010, Stòras Uibhist rejected an offer to fast-track the development after hounding local crofter Calum Macmillan for the entire amount of his10 megawatt space on the sole sub-sea cable out of the Uists.

Many years before, when nobody else was interested, Calum Macmillan, who runs Hebridean Energy, had applied for grid space.

Even when the land buyout occurred and Stòras later came into existence it did not seem to properly advance its renewable energy ambitions.

The community land owners went against the advice of their own energy consultants and never applied for a grid connection until the last minute.

Stòras maintained it was advised it had to get planning permission first. Its belated application failed.

Calum Macmillan offer would have given the community all the grid capacity it needed but Storas demanded full control of his full amount.

It is understood only the elite few in Stòras were aware of the details surrounding Hebridean Energy’s offer to the community. The elected directors were kept in the dark until Caum Macmillan went public.

The panicked elite called an emerency meeting after the ordinary directors became aware of the saga through the press.

After months of claiming he was jeopardising the community wind scheme, Stòras decided it didn’t need his grid space after all.

Calum Macmillan suffered what he called a smear campaign and experiences difficulties with the landlord over what should be striaght forward crofting administration matters.

In another twist, Angus MacMillan, the chairman of Stòras, claimed Calum MacMillan had defamed his reputation by comments in a letter and raised legal action to seek damages of £100,000.