John Cunningham said any development would be subject to community consultations and a feasibility study, and would require full planning permission with an Environmental Impact Assessment. Floday is one of several sites being considered to support offshore wind projects.
Mr Cunningham explained the concept had arisen as part of longer-term possibilities for community benefits from ScotWind developments off the west and north of Lewis by securing the community’s shared ownership of green hydrogen production.
Conversion of locally produced green hydrogen to ammonia for transportation was feasible and would enable the fuel to be transported to market via the producer-preferred deep-water sea routes off the west side of Lewis. However, the process was an inefficient use of the fuel amidst rapidly evolving technologies.
As reported in last week’s Gazette, the Comhairle shared a paper with landowners and grazings committees to establish if there was support for including Floday in a consultation on potential west coast sites for a shore base.
When this paper was distributed more widely, it led to a campaign under the name ‘Fight for Flodaigh’ which claimed a “new development” was being “proposed” for a “potentially dangerous ammonia plant”. Mr Cunningham made clear it would be years, if ever, before such a proposal exists.
In the shorter term, he outlined a first phase that could see an access road, hard standing, store, and pier/dolphin with breakwater being developed on Floday. The Comhairle’s preferred option was for the wind farm developers to be based locally with the potential to create jobs outside of Stornoway.
However, Mr Cunningham did state the developers had expressed a preference to be HQ’d in Stornoway with a smaller shore base on the westside as a “jumping off” point for the wind farms. Phase one of a local development would need to be in place by 2025 and any work on developing plans for an ammonia production plant, if they had the potential to proceed, would not start until approximately 2027.
In more than an hour of questions from the floor, he responded to a range of concerns including those over communications with the community and impact on the economy and environment. He also stated that “phase one” could be considered without being dependent on the longer-term concept.
Councillor Ranald Fraser thanked “all who turned out to the meeting to listen to the comhairle’s presentation on the initial proposals for the offshore wind farm development”. “The slide presentation by Mr Cunningham was very detailed and outlined the various scenarios that might present themselves if or when this development proceeds,” he said.