View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Wednesday 8 August

Summer is said to be on its way north. Southern Spain is reporting temperatures of 43C / 109F. Fortunately, we are that far north, we'll be lucky to see anything over 20C / 68F. No sun for us until after dinnertime, and our mercury stopped rising at 14C / 57F. I'm not complaining as it did feel warm today. We tend to set our standards low in this part of the world, but anything over 80F makes me uncomfortable.

I have written extensively about the Pairc Windfarm which appears to be off the agenda. SSE have suggested that a smaller community windfarm could still be on the cards. I'm quite happy that this windfarm is now not going ahead, as it would be a huge blot on the landscape of South Lochs. I have few images of that area, as I was haunting its moors in the winter of 2004/5, not yet in possession of a digital camera. One of these days I will revisit, if I can persuade the bus company to take me the 5 miles down the road from Balallan. Or if I can get my hands on a vehicle.

SSE pulls the plug on the Pairc windfarm

 SSE have today announced that they are withdrawing from the proposed 26-turbine 94 MW windfarm at Pairc (South Lochs) in the Isle of Lewis for environmental reasons. This is major news, for several reasons.
It is good to hear that a major player in the renewable energy market, SSE, now recognises that environmental constraints are a good reasons for not siting a windfarm in sensitive areas. Colonies of golden eagles and other raptors were at increased risk of colliding with the turbine blades. It is to be hoped that this approach will be applied to other windfarm schemes across the Scottish Highlands.

Bearing this in mind, the question could be asked whether the Muaitheabhal and Pentland Road windfarms in Lewis, which have been approved, should not now be reconsidered on their environmental (de)merits. Construction of both schemes is due to begin within the next 12 months.

The implications on a local level are equally major. The Pairc windfarm was one of the schemes that would contribute towards the renewable energy output to be generated in the island, to justify the construction of the interconnector (sub sea cable) to the Scottish mainland. At present, only the Muaitheabhal windfarm in Eishken and the Pentland Road scheme appear to be contributing - and I am not certain that the threshold is now going to be met.

The potential construction of a windfarm on the Pairc Estate has been one of the stumbling blocks for progressing the community buy-out in South Lochs. Had SSE proceeded with the windfarm, this would have caused the value of the land to skyrocket out of the reach of the Pairc Trust, who have striven for nearly a decade to take the estate into community ownership. This being no longer the case, the likelihood of a successful buy-out appears to have taken a substantial boost.