Stornoway Trust factor, Iain MacIver, has raised concerns over calls for an upgrade of the energy link from the Isle of Skye to the outer islands.
Earlier this week, Councillor Angus McCormack (pictured) called for the upgrade of the Skye link to be considered in addition to the proposed interconnector link between Lewis and the mainland, with its capcity being reserved for use by ‘community’ owned renewables projects.
The upgraded Skye link could, Cllr McCormack stated, deliver circa 100mws of capacity.
But the Trust’s Factor has now said that the options for the Skye link had been considered “right from the outset” and that the Trust had been advised that it was “not a feasible option”, requiring extensive work on the power lines from Skye to Fort Augustus.
The Factor stated that the link could be longer than the current proposed link to Beauly, serving the larger Lewis interconnector cable, “with many challenges that would have to be overcome, and not to mention the cost”.
Mr MacIver concluded: “you would probably end up with a project being even bigger than the needs case required for the bigger-capacity Beauly link.”
Commenting on the recent set-back to plans for the 600mw interconnector from Lewis following Stornoway Wind Farm’s failure to secure government subsidies through the Contract for Difference process, Iain MacIver said that the Trust, Lewis Wind Power and the Comhairle “are looking at how our hopes for renewable energy and renewable energy development can be delivered.”
“As things stand”, he added, “we are hoping that LWP can find an alternative route to market. But we are obviously concerned that a policy that was supposed to have helped address the island disadvantage hasn’t worked out as the outcome both here and in Shetland proves.
“I think that from both a local and a national perspective, the two islands that have the best wind resources in the northern hemisphere, if not the world, are now the outside looking in because of a policy that clearly doesn’t work for this area.
“That is something that hopefully the Trust and the council and other interested parties, looking out for the interests of the islands will be trying to make clear to those who have an influence and capability of making a change.”
And the Factor hit back at claims that the Trust and the Comhairle were not supporting community renewables projects.
“They are saying that the Trust and the Council should support the community. As far as I’m aware that has always been the case. In the lease agreement there is provision for each township to build their own [turbines] up to 4mw without any hindrance providing it doesn’t impact negatively on what we are trying to achieve for the greater good.
“To say that the Comhairle have not been helping communities I think is quite disingenuous. We are not wanting to be at war with anyone, but the Trust is faced with the dilemma of trying to deliver what is best for the community, and it is strange that the position supported by the council and by governments north and south is being dismissed and ridiculed as being anti-community.”