I feel compelled to write a very urgent, further letter to the Gazette following the meeting held at Tolsta Community Hall on Tuesday 14th August.
I would like to make a plea to all those involved in the decision making process when assessing the planning application 18/00216 Druim Leathann Windfarm, North Tolsta, Isle of Lewis and to the Stornoway Trust and the Crofters of Tolsta for your involvement with this application.
Please think with your heads and your hearts and for those villagers for whom you will be inflicting a life time of possible misery.
This application is for a huge, commercial development that will impact badly on the village of Tolsta.
It will bring no employment or other significant benefit to the village and the Isle of Lewis, apart to the Stornoway Trust and the village crofters who will receive a remuneration for giving up access to their common grazings.
Once this land, so hard won by our forefathers, is given up to this massive development, it will be gone forever, never to be returned to what we have now.
Those who will feel the most impact if this scheme goes ahead, are those souls who live on Hill Street, Tolsta, plus other residents close by, when the turbines will, quite literally, be in their back yard.
The residents will be deprived of their glorious views and sunsets of the moors from their west facing windows only to have it replaced by giant turbines.
They will be subjected to what is now known as Wind Turbine Syndrome.
Whilst there is plenty of information on the internet about known health effects, developers and many officials are quick to ‘poo poo’ such notions as not being true.
The most probable health concern from living in close proximity to wind turbines is that their noise can disturb sleep and cause chronic sleep disturbance which is a clear health risk.
Another concern is that the constant noise or even light flickering caused by the moving blades are a source of stress, which is its own health risk.
There is also a claim that some people are sensitive to the infrasound created by wind turbines, this cannot be heard but can have an effect none-the-less.
So who or what are we to believe?
One crofter has already said to me ‘well, perhaps they are too big and they are too close’.
Sadly that crofter’s voice cannot be heard for it is only a few strident voices that are being used in the village, insisting that this application must go ahead and we must get the interconnector.
Tolsta is an aging community where many of its gentle people were brought up to be polite and are therefore too shy to speak out.
I have been accused of being an incomer and this application is none of my business, but I want to state, quite clearly, that Tolsta is part of my DNA.
From the day I was born my mother sang to me Gaelic lullabies and told me stories of her childhood in Tolsta, of a time when the strap was in common use in the school. A time when, as a Gaelic speaker she was forced to learn BBC English from the radio when she went to school. From that moment in 1952, when my mother returned to visit her home with her young family and as a family we have been returning ever since.
Of course I have a right to speak, I have family here and this is the village of my forefathers and mothers.
Why? Oh, why have the developers chosen Tolsta as a possible siting for this huge commercial windfarm?
Of all the thousands of empty square miles in Scotland, has this site been selected?
The negotiations that have taken place so far has caused much suspicion, mistrust and great anger amongst villagers, who feel they have been deliberately omitted from the process and given little or no information until now, as groups of residents within the village are beginning to speak out against this proposal.
This windfarm, if built, will destroy the very wildness and wilderness that makes Lewis and the Hebrides so special and once the flood gates are allowed to open there will be more commercial windfarms to justify the possibility that the interconnector will also go ahead.
Living on an island with such a fragile economy, any commercial windfarm will have a detrimental effect on inhabitants who might have turbines built in their back gardens and any possibility that we can build a real economy on tourism. Massive commercial windfarms, we are talking 450ft high, will destroy the very thing that makes these islands so special.
We must focus on our small community wind turbines for these do and will benefit our communities and support their future.