VIDEO: Spàgan the community wind turbine opened on Barra

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The official opening of Spàgan, hailed as one of the most productive 900kW turbines in Western Europe, took place on Barra last Friday.

The community gathered for a ceremony in blustery conditions to formally mark the start of the project which has been led by Coimhearsnachd Bharraidh agus Bhatarsaidh.

Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil led the proceedings and a plaque was unveiled by Cannon Angus MacQueen to mark the occasion.

Mr MacNeil said the turbine was live and should start exporting electricity this week.

He said that from a political point of view the message had to be given to Westminster Government that not only did projects such as this have to pay export charges to send power to the mainland but that consumers in places like Barra were paying up to 15% more for energy than in central London. He congratulated those who had been involved in the set up of the project including Development Officer Euan Scott and the contractor Shonny Maclennan. He said Barra was a community of just 1,200 who had a reputation for ‘getting things done.’

He introduced Cannon MacQueen who would unveil the plaque and looking back to the 1970s he said: “If ever there was an entrepreneurial set of clergy it was Fr Angus MacQueen and Fr Calum Maclellan.”

He said they had been instrumental in setting up Barratlantic which has had a lasting legacy on Barra and said it was the hope that the wind turbine project would also have a lasting legacy.

Canon MacQueen said the community should be very proud of the project and he also reminisced about the developments in the island during the 1960s when Bishop Macpherson had been invited to officially switch on electricity on Barra. He said this current project was also a big step forward and remarked on the potential of wave energy to the islands.

Mairi Campbell of Coimhearsnachd Bharraidh agus Bhatarsaidh thanked all those who had contributed to the community wind turbine project including all partners and lenders and also the wider community which had been involved since the very beginning.

She said the wind turbine had been named through a competition in local schools with 74 entries. The winner was Charlie Galbraith from Castlebay School with runner up being Seamus Macleod.

The wind turbine was blessed by local priest Fr John Paul Mackinnon and then those in attendance were treated to a piping performance by Katie MacDonald and Clare Francis MacNeil.

A Ceilidh was held on Friday evening with entertainment from several local artists including the Vatersay Boys.

The £2.2m project has been funded by the UK’s leading sustainable bank, Triodos Bank N.V and through vital subsidies from the Scottish Government.