Crofters in Lewis have had development applications for wind farms on their common grazings rejected this week by the Crofting Commission.
The news was revealed in a statement by the Stornoway Trust, who welcomed the long awaited decision from the Crofting Commission, not to consent the Section 50B application submitted by the Grazing Committees of Melbost and Branahuie, Sandwick East Street, and Sandwick North Street.
In the judgment issued to each applicant, who had sought consent to establish wind turbines on the site of the already consented Stornoway Wind Farm proposed development, the Commission explained that the proposed use would be detrimental to the interest of the Stornoway Trust as set out in Section 50B (2) of the 1993 Crofting Act.
Crofters had hoped that approval for the go-ahead of their own wind farm project would realise much greater community benefits.
In responding to the news, Trustee Calum Maclean, Chairman of the Trust’s Renewable Sub Group stressed that the group’s objective in opposing the application was to safeguard the benefits the community stands to gain from the larger Stornoway Wind Farm project.
The Trust was focused on protecting the interests of all the crofters involved, rather than trying to merely thwart the aspiration of the three townships.
In defending the Trust’s stance, Mr Maclean further stated that whilst it appeared that these townships had acted on poor advice, he shared the Trust’s view that the prospect of the community securing a greater share in wind generation potential was now a step closer thanks to the Commission.
In reaction to the decision, Rhoda Mackenzie, spokesperson for the townships, said: “This decision is no surprise to the townships.
“We have already prepared and will now be submitting an appeal to the Land Court against this decision.
“The only interesting thing about the commission’s decision is that they rejected all of the landowner’s objects except one… and that is that the landowner wants the Stornoway Wind Farm to go ahead, rather than the community projects.
“We have always made clear that the projects will directly replace 21 of the Stornoway Wind Farm turbines but that still leaves 17 turbines for EDF.
“There is no reason, therefore, why the community turbines on our grazings cannot be developed in tandem with the 17 turbines elsewhere.
“That would be much more beneficial to the community, produce much more money going back into the local economy and would not be in any way detrimental to the Stornoway Trust.
“This has been anticipated from the outset and we had always intended to take this to the Land Court and for it to be heard amongst our objections to EDF’s Section 19 applications.”