Calls for an uprade of the exisiting power link between the Isle of Skye and the Outer Hebrides have been made by a prominent Lewis councillor, with community-owned renewable energy projects to be prioitised in its use.
Cllr Angus McCormack made the call following the recent failure of Lewis Wind Power to secure subsidies for the proposed large-scale Stornoway Wind Farm - throwing into doubt the chances of a new interconnector cable linking Lewis to the mainland grid being developed - and last week’s granting of planning permission for Sandwick North crofting township to develop a single turbine on common grazing land already earmarked for Lewis Wind Power’s development.
In his statement, Cllr McCormack urged fellow councillors to back the Skye power link proposal and which should, according to the councillor, be available to “community” renewable projects: “because community-owned projects return more than 10 times the financial benefit to the local community as do corporate projects.”
The councillor’s statement outlined that the upgraded Skye link could have a have a capacity of circa 100mw - well short of the 600mw capacity in the proposed new interconnector or the 450mw line that has the backing of Ofgem, but, which, the councillor concluded: “...can be pursued in parallel with the large interconnector if needs be but it is a perfectly feasible project on its own.”
A report on the Comhairle’s strategy for the development of renewables is currently being prepared by Comhairle officers for discussion at the Comhairle’s December series of meetings, but, Cllr Cormack has claimed that “almost all of the briefing around that”, related to “bodies external to the Comhairle”.
He said: “There is no reference to the Comhairle anywhere in the document. That, for me, summarises our strategy. We just rely on other people to determine what we do. I have never seen a strategy paper on renewables”.
A spokesperson for The Comhairle said: “The Comhairle is looking for maximum connectivity and has not changed from that position. At the same time, The Comhairle is and always has been, supportive of community renewable projects.
“High level policy ideas will be discussed at the Sustainable Development Committee in December, and these will be built on in early 2020.”