Township wind turbine plan submitted

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Sandwick North Street crofting township has submitted a planning application to the Comhairle for a single wind turbine on its common grazing lands off the Pentland Road, Stornoway.

The Township is the first of the four crofting townships looking to develop community-owned wind farms on their common grazings lands on the same sites as some of the turbines planned by Lewis Wind Power, and the right to develop the land is currently the subject of legal proceedings in the Scottish Land Court.

The planning application is for the erection and 25 year operation of the single wind turbine, with a hub height of up to 90m, a rotor diameter of up to 128m and blade tip height of up to 145m, as well as for associated infrastructure including a site access track.

In a statement issued on Wednesday (16 January), Rhoda Mackenzie, spokesperson for Sandwick North Street, said: “It’s been a long road to get to this stage and we’re glad we’ve reached this stage now. It should give people the reassurance that we are getting the necessary legal requirements in place so that we are ready to bid into the Contract for Difference auction. This is one of the bricks in the wall.

“We are confident we’ll be ready to bid in. All the necessary legal requirements are slowly coming together but we’re confident that they’ll all be in place to enable us to bid in. We are continuing to work through all the processes and legal requirements.

“From Sandwick North Street’s point of view, the community is still 100 per-cent committed to this and to following the due process to get all the mechanisms in place to allow us to bid in.”

The statement from the Township also stated that the community wind farms’ policy of financial distribution would see 70 per-cent of the profit from the scheme would ‘go across the wider islands region, so the whole of the Western Isles stands to gain significantly from the development’, with the model of financial distribution being based on that developed by Point and Sandwick Trust, the community wind farm charity which owns the Beinn Ghrideag development.

Rhoda MacKenzie added: “We have always been focused on securing community benefit for the Western Isles. It’s never been about personal financial gain for the Sandwick North area; it’s been about securing the best outcome on our land for the people of the Western Isles.

“Land for this type of development is at a premium because we need to have areas that produce a good wind yield and also meet the environmental criteria – but other areas that don’t have suitable land to develop themselves shouldn’t be excluded from community benefit.

“It’s not just about the townships that have grazings land. It’s been our sole objective, since we started this project, to maximise the income into the community for the Western Isles. We’re using a finite community resource and land so we have to make sure that the maximum benefit is achieved from it for as many people as possible.”