Time is fast running out to make your views known on windfarm proposals

Stornoway Community Council is making a ‘last call’ for residents of Stornoway to get in touch to make their views known about the proposed Stornoway Wind Farm, ahead of the community council submitting its official response to the Scottish Government consultation on the matter.

Friday, 26th February 2021, 11:39 am
Don't delay if you want your voice to be heard.
Don't delay if you want your voice to be heard.

The community council would also like to thank all those who have already got in touch to make their views known. Many emails have come from locals expressing their shock at the scale of the planned development and adding their names to the call that a public local inquiry be held into the Lewis Wind Power / EDF plans because of the “public interest”.

There has been shock, outrage and distress voiced at the relative silence surrounding this latest stage of the development process – the publication of the Environmental Impact Assessment report into the project and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar officially taking a view on it – with residents calling for a public local inquiry “in the interests of democracy and transparency”.

Stornoway Community Council has until March 4th to submit our response to the consultation.

As part of our response, the community council will argue that there is public interest in a public local inquiry being held – in order to address all issues surrounding the project – and is urging any more Stornoway residents who would like to make their views known to get in touch without delay.

Please email your views to [email protected], no later than February 28th.

The community council is a statutory consultee and will pass on all the views received – positive or negative – to the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit, which is handling the Section 36 planning application.

The proposed Stornoway Wind Farm would consist of 33 turbines, most of which would be up to 180 metres tall. It is thought they would be the largest turbines so close to a major town in the UK.

The edge of the development would be around 1.5km from Stornoway and would be sited across the Pentland moor, from near the Harris road to near Newmarket. It would be visible from all roads into Stornoway and from around 12km out to sea on the Stornoway-Ullapool ferry route.

Lewis Wind Power already have planning permission for a ‘Stornoway Wind Farm’ on the site and their new application would not affect that. Nor does the new application affect the ‘needs case’ for the interconnector which was based on their project that already has permission, along with two other major schemes.

It may be necessary to give some clarity on what has unfolded in the past month – primarily the production of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report, which described all the likely environmental impacts of the proposed project, along with other positive and negative impacts such as economics.

The production of Environmental Impact Assessment reports are a legal requirement on developers. As the planning authority, the Comhairle was asked to examine that report and take a view on whether the project should be supported. The Comhairle was also asked to give a view to Scottish Government on whether there was ‘public interest’ in holding a public local inquiry.

Until a national newspaper carried a story on this matter coming before the Comhairle, there was no public awareness of the Environmental Impact Assessment report. Also, the latest consultation phase, which began in late November 2020, had gone unnoticed due to a lack of publicity.

Some major issues were highlighted in the planning report that was submitted to the Comhairle on February 2nd, including concerns about the visual impact on Stornoway, such as this opinion from the Comhairle’s own landscape consultant:

“A key concern is the proximity of the proposed development to Stornoway and the significant adverse effects likely to arise on the appreciation of the town and its intimately scaled and richly diverse landscape setting from the sea…”

The reports also included images or ‘visualisations’ of how the wind farm will look from various aspects – images that members of the public could not have easily accessed before.

More information is available online about the development and its impacts.

These include the Comhairle nan Eilean landscape report which is available online at (see pages 5 to 9):

https://www.cne-siar.gov.uk/media/16588/C%203E%20-%20Appendix%204%20Internal%20Consultation%20responses.pdf

The Council’s main planning report is available at:

https://www.cne-siar.gov.uk/media/16588/frontis.pdf

A video of the Council’s meeting where planning officials gave a detailed presentation on the project (including images of what it will look like) is available on YouTube (from 30 mins to 1hr 40 mins):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18T7DifIBKM&t=4932s

Stornoway Community Council would like to remind people that if you have concerns about this development, you can add your voice to the calls for a public local inquiry by emailing us at [email protected] We will pass on all the views we receive to the Energy Consents Unit as part of our consultation response.