Six turbine wind farm plans are submitted

Plans for a six turbine wind farm outside Stornoway have been submitted to the Comhairle.

The application by Point and Sandwick Trust and Melbost and Branahuie Grazings Committee, supported by Sandwick Community Council, is on a site called Sidhean Mor, on an apportionment on the Stornoway General Grazings which was granted to Melbost and Branahuie by the Crofters Commission in 1996.

The apportionment, which is partly planted with crofter forestry, is located off the A858, 5km west of Stornoway. It is close to the Beinn Ghrideag community wind farm on the Sandwick North St apportionment which is due to commence operation next year, having received its conditional planning consent in 2010.

The proposed new Sidhean Mor wind farm will consist of six turbines with a maximum tip height of 125 metres and will produce enough power for 13,000 households or the whole population of the Isle of Lewis.

The six turbines will produce an average annual profit of £2 Million a year and are expected to be operating for 25 years. The profit will be used by Point and Sandwick Trust to invest in community development. Point and Sandwick Trust is a community-owned charity whose purposes are the social, educational, cultural and environmental development of the people of Point, Sandwick and the Western Isles.

The Point and Sandwick Trust has agreed that a minimum of 70 per cent of the income will be invested in projects that benefit the whole of the Western Isles and not just the districts of Point and Sandwick.

It is estimated that the income could create 75 jobs directly and over 200 jobs if it is used to attract European and other match-funding.

Willie MacFarlane, the Grazings Clerk of Melbost and Branahuie Grazings Committee said: “In my view, wind turbines on crofting land should be owned by the whole community and the profits invested locally for the benefit of everyone.

“This land has been used by crofters in the past to graze stock and to plant trees, all of which have benefitted the community. Using it for community-owned turbines is a natural extension of crofting in the 21st century.”

Donald John MacSween, the Chair of Point and Sandwick Trust, said: “We are delighted to be working with Melbost and Branahuie Grazings Committee to develop this scheme.

“As well as generating income for the community, we will work to create an attractive area of amenity and recreation close to Stornoway, by making access tracks that walkers and bikers can use and also providing disabled access.

“This project will show that community-owned wind farms can be developed on a commercial scale and give a far higher return to the whole community. We have calculated that the Western Isles will earn 20 times more from community-owned turbines than from renting the same land out to a private developer.”

“The governing Board of the Point and Sandwick Trust is elected by the community and membership is open to all electors living in the Point and Sandwick districts of Lewis.

“Six Grazings Committees are also represented on the Board, along with the two Community Councils in Point and Sandwick. Applications to join can be sent to us at 26 Lewis St, Stornoway.”