Comhairle Leader Angus Campbell and Calum Macdonald, The Executive Director of Point and Sandwick Power, have taken a series of public pot-shots at one another regarding the recent meetings with the Secretary of State, Greg Clark.
In a press statement Mr Campbell said: “It is disappointing that one community energy company seems solely interested in their own development at the expense of other renewable energy developments in the Western Isles. The Comhairle has been and continues to work to ensure that communities throughout the Isles can benefit from the massive renewables potential of these islands.”
He continued: “The Comhairle does continue to engage with developers and others to seek to maximise the economic benefit from the large-scale wind energy projects. In addition to traditional community benefits this includes commitments to significant local content to ensure that local businesses can share in the economic spin-offs.
“In wishing to engage with the commercial developers, such as Lewis Wind Power, it is good to see that Calum MacDonald, at long last, seems to understand that large-scale commercial projects, such as Lewis Wind Power, are essential to drive and underwrite the inter-connector. This, at least, is a step forward. However, Mr MacDonald, who has never attended a meeting of the Scottish Islands Delivery Forum and who was not on the official invitee list for the meeting on Monday, has taken a highly distorted, and selective view of the meeting and the round table discussion. The meeting covered a range of issues from political implications, cost to consumers through to regulatory issues, inter-connector timelines, innovation, etc. as well as how renewables can benefit the local community.
“In his short, sole contribution to the meeting Mr MacDonald, twice stated he was in agreement with the presentation delivered by the Comhairle. It is strange that his comments to a closed meeting and his public press statements should be so at variance.”
But Mr Macdonald has issues a press statement of his own to hit back saying: “Mr Campbell makes the strange claim that Point and Sandwick Power was not invited to the meeting with the Secretary of State, Greg Clark, on Monday. In fact, we were in receipt of an official invitation from the Secretary of State’s office.
“Perhaps Mr Campbell can explain why the Council did not want any representatives of the local community energy sector at the meeting, despite the local branch of Community Energy Scotland making repeated requests to the Council to be included?
“Sadly this speaks volumes for the begrudging attitude of the Council leadership to the community energy sector, despite the fact that local community wind farms are already investing £2 million a year from the Butt to Barra, twice the community benefit that is being promised from the large Stornoway Wind Farm.”
“During the meeting, the Secretary of State made repeated references to the importance of the community sector in building the case for the inter-connector.
“I therefore repeat my appeal to the Council leader not to repeat the mistakes and to work closely with the local community energy sector to deliver an improved case and to hopefully finally win the argument for the inter-connector.”