R J McLeod began the construction of the access roads for the Storas Uibhist 6.9MW windfarm at Loch Carnan on Monday 19 March in a project that is hoped will transform the islands of South Uist, Benbecula and Eriskay.
The turbines will be installed later in the year, with Enercon currently arranging the logistics to bring the turbines to site in August.
The windfarm revenues will then be reinvested to support the economic and social regeneration of the community.
At a turf cutting ceremony Pupils from Iochdar primary schools’ eco committee and pupil council, along with representatives of Iochdar Hill Common Grazing Committee, Iochdar crofters and township residents followed a local piper to the start point of the access track to the windfarm site, where they were greeted by the brand new MacAulay Askernish 22 tonne machine that will start the road building this week.
Peggy Campbell, Township clerk at the time of the township negotiations said: “The township have been very supportive of this project and look forward to the benefit of the project being returned to the community.”
The windfarm development, a priority project of the community buyout, has been supported all the way by the SnBM members, local residents and in particular the Iochdar shareholders who signed consent to enable the project to proceed.
Mary MacInnes, Head Teacher at Iochdar school said: “Cutting the first sod at Loch Carnan was a significant moment for our pupils and their teacher! Developing links with the business community is very much on the Education agenda and youngsters cannot start too early to think of their own career paths. We look forward to participation in the project as it develops as we have the advantage of proximity to Lochcarnan to make regular visits. The presence of a piper reminds us all of the central role our culture has in all aspects of South Uist life.”
Speaking at the turf-cutting ceremony on a windy Iochdar Hill Common, Angus MacMillan, Chairman of Stòras Uibhist said: ‘This project is one step in the process of transforming the economy of these islands and building a future for the children of this community. For too long we have seen our young people leave these islands because there are few educational opportunities and jobs.
“The revenue from these turbines will allow this community to shape its own future and provide match funding for a wide range of projects that have previously not been able to happen because of a lack of resources.”