Views on securing vital interconnector

The main thing that is needed for the Islands is the Interconnector.
The main thing that is needed for the Islands is the Interconnector.

Representatives from the Stornoway Trust and Lewis Wind Power this week insisted their 36-turbine Stornoway Wind Farm project is the “only way” to get the vital interconnector to go ahead.

They added that there is no current capacity for even one more turbine in reaction to the news that two groups of crofters have applied to the Crofting Commission for permission to develop community wind turbines on their common grazings under Section 50b, which allows developments to go ahead even when landowners — in this case, Stornoway Trust — are opposed.

Melbost & Branahuie want eight turbines and Sandwick North Street want one, to join the three community turbines already successfully developed on their grazings by Point and Sandwick Power at Beinn Ghrideag.

However, Darren Cumming from LWP/EDF and Calum Maclean, chairman of Stornoway Trust, said such groups were too small to bring the interconnector, now estimated at between £600million and £900million.

This high-voltage cable would enable the transfer of hundreds more megawatts of power off the islands and into the National Grid — but, due to its exorbitant costs, needs to be partly underwritten by development companies.

Darren Cumming said: “The main thing that’s needed for the islands is that interconnector. Without the committed capacity of around 380MW, which is the words from SSE and National Grid, there will be no interconnector. They need to know they can get their money back.”

He said that could be reached by combining Stornoway’s 180MW with the 160MW from Uisenis, 40MW from Tolsta and existing generation of around 40MW.

Trust chairman Calum Maclean added: “There’s no capacity there for one more turbine. Without the interconnector, we’ve got nothing.”

Rhoda Mackenzie, a representative of the North Street Grazings Committee, agreed they were “absolutely right” that no more projects could go ahead without the interconnector — but disputed the argument that only Lewis Wind Power could make it a reality.

“If there are as many community projects giving the same output as the LWP project, then this (argument) falls down.”

Darren Cumming also confirmed that LWP will be making their Section 19a ‘scheme for development’ application to the Scottish Land Court “by the end of the year”.