Comhairle hail talks on island renewables as ‘very positive’

Paul Wheelhouse, minister for business, innovation and energy
Paul Wheelhouse, minister for business, innovation and energy

Talks on island renewables between the Comhairle and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Industry & Energy, Richard Harrington MP and Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy at the Scottish Government, have been hailed as positive.

The talks focused around the delivery of the Conservative Party manifesto to support Island renewables with the process of the next period outlined.

This included the recognition of “Remote Island Wind” as a distinct technology category, the resubmission of the State Aid application to the European Commission and the UK Government’s official response to the 2016 Island Wind consultation. Two parallel consultations around “Remote Island Wind” and how projects can deliver benefits to the community will also be launched in the autumn.

Director of Development Calum Iain Maciver said: “The Minister and his officials were positive about prospects for the Islands and they were keen to hear how the Islands could benefit from the establishment of a renewables industry.

“Island representatives discussed with the Minister the transformative economic potential of renewables, the strategic goal of ensuring that communities across the islands benefit from the establishment of the new industry, the different types of benefits that will accrue as well as the different types of methodologies for disbursing these benefits.

“The meeting with Mr Harrington has reinvigorated prospects for Island renewables. There now appears to be a broad consensus that progress can and will be made.”

MP pleased with Minister’s intent

Western Isles MP, Angus MacNeil, was also present at the discussions on remote island wind developments in Scotland.

He said: “The issues of particular interest to the Minister are: what the scope of community would be, how community or communities money would be controlled and on what basis could communities as a whole or community members access funds.

“All is under consideration and the Minister confirmed that he will be opening a consultation. Tongue in cheek he joked at the meeting that I had written the Conservative manifesto when it comes to island renewables.

“Of course these latest moves are what I have pushed for a long time, but regardless of political party it is pleasing to see that we have someone like Richard Harrington as a Minister, sincere in his efforts to make island renewables happen.”