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back to article Scottish Government scuppers Lewis wind farm plan

The Scottish Government has turned down an application to build a 181-turbine wind farm on the Isle of Lewis, the BBC reports. The decision confirms a report by the BBC's Gaelic news service Radio nan Gaidheal back in January, which predicted a red light for the £500m project, proposed by Lewis Wind Power (LWP). Although the …

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Unhappy

Probably a good thing - they'd be screwed over

As much as I'm in favour of renewable energy, from the islander's point of view there really wouldn't be any benefit for them. They were similarly promised hundreds of new jobs for a open mine proposal - but when it came down to the crunch, all the jobs went to suitably qualified engineers who were shipped in. It would be just the same in this situation; The only local jobs created would be making the tea.

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Stop

Before anyone starts about nimbys....

.....this scheme was ill-conceived from the start and WELL DONE to the SNP govt for finally being the ones to notice.

This windfarm wouldn't have been able to operate for most of the winter months due to winds being too strong. There's no HVDC interconnector to the mainland. You are building on peatland which is little more than swamp in winter and will cost incredible amounts to stabilise, if its even possible. Carbon savings? What carbon savings after you've concreted over excavated PEAT?

The council bet the farm on this so ignore their bleating. There was no community benefit whatsoever. There was HUGE benefit for the estate owners and also for the developers but for local people? Not even crumbs.

The way forward up there is tidal power, only the council let that go to Shetland (Ocean Power Delivery as was) so now there's no plan B.

Anonymous as I have to deal with the muppets at CNES

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Happy

Quite right, too !!

There is enough hot air generated in the Scottish Assembly to power all of Scotland !! No need for more !!

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Flame

What exactly do Scotland want?

I think its time to patch up the missing bits of Hadrians Wall and let them sort themselves out - they seem out of touch with the rest of the world on energy conservation. We should leave them to their own devices.

They don't want nuclear, now they won't build wind turbines in a well researched and viable location. Whatever happened to 'the needs of the many'?

They don't appear to need the jobs this wind farm would have created. Presumably they still expect Westminster to cough up for the financial needs of their people as the population dwindles and internal taxation revenues decline further.

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@Probably a good thing

It's the same with any skilled "job creation" project. Unless there are a bunch of people with the necessary skills who happen to be currently unemployed in the area, those skilled employees will have to come from somewhere else. And unless they were not working before moving, vacancies will be created there.

But new work that can use the support services of existing companies in the area, is definitely a good thing as it will hopefully increase the chances of people keeping their jobs. It sounds like some jobs in fabrication are now at risk.

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Unhappy

Not screwed over

The developers would have paid £6m per annum for 25-30 years to the affected communities, to be used to regenerate the islands.

The direct and indirect benefits would have been huge.

As for the "open mine proposal" it never happened, and no-one was "shipped in".

An enormous missed opportunity.

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Good news....

Definitely the right decision. It was the most stupid, short sighted planning application ever that actually could have gone ahead.

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[posts have titles, not comments]

Out of interest, just how far does the sea level have to rise before these highly important peat-lands become beach...? When will people get it into their heads that you have to put these turbines _somewhere_? If we reject all the options then the whole bloody lot of them are doomed. My favourite was when the RSPB campaigned against a set of turbines on the Fens because it might upset a birdie. Half a meter sea level rise and the whole bloody lot ends up under water, including all the little birdies.

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Coat

Why

You have to start to think what it's all about.

We can not build renewable energy sources in remote areas because of...

A small smegging peat bog might be destroyed.

Some smegging birds might die hitting the vanes.

So build the bloody things in London then.

I bet not many of the locals was in the 11 thousand petition, just a bunch of bloody do gooders interfering.

I think that all these do gooders should not be able to receive electricity if it is generated from sources that they protest about, so therefore they will then complain when their quota for the days stops half way through Corrie or Eastenders!

Mines the one with solar panels sown in

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Democracy at work?

I can't see where LWP have scope to moan, 11000 objections, I mean fuck me this is a democracy isn't it,. I guess the people said no and that's that. That and the fact the some folks obviously appreciate that we share the planet with other lifeforms and as Ian indicates, "we bought apples at your cart before"

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Flame

Goddamn treehugging bunnylovers

Are we ever going to win with the veggie brigade?

We burn fossil fuels, so they complain we're destroying the earth with harmful chemicals. So we look at ways to burn sustainable, greener 'biofuels' and we're then accused of starving the 3rd world (despite the fact we could produce enough food as we currently pay farmers to not use 10% of their land).

We then try to put up windfarms, wave turbines, solar panels, etc etc. And we get objections because of "sites of special scientific interest" (wow, a grub lives here that doesn't anywhere else - well, it did til I stamped on it), "sites of outstanding natural beauty" (it's a fucking hill covered in grass - they're surprisingly common you know), or if they can't come up with that, it's because protected birds feed and crap there or cos Tarka the fuckin' Otter can't swim around the wave turbine!

If there are any lentil-munching, sandal-wearing 2CV driving hippies reading this (which I doubt, since this website deals mostly with matters moving us away from living like Stig of the dump), can you enlighten the rest of us what exactly it is we CAN do to make you lot happy (other than letting you try to control and restrict every aspect of our lives)

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Anonymous Coward

Benefit culture

>There was no community benefit whatsoever.

Yes, because a significant local business pumping rates cash into the local council would be of no benefit at all..

Might be accurate, at the moment these islands barely survive and have to be propped up by the rest of the country. If they suddenly get a large wodge of cash into the council coffers the subsidy would probably just be reduced.

Of course to a group raised on a benefit culture there's no benefit to that.

400 well paid people traipsing in every day wouldn't be of any benefit to local businesses either I suppose... Wouldn't want them in the "local" shop, that's just for "local" people.

>The only local jobs created would be making the tea.

Oh, you're saying they're not very bright up there?

I always thought Scotland was quite famous for its engineers...

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Anonymous Coward

@Angus Nicolson

Angus is, unless I miss my guess, an ex-councillor and champion of the scheme? Or are you a different Angus Nicolson to this : http://angusnicolson.blogspot.com/

Just to put things into context you understand ;-)

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Unhappy

@Ian Ferguson

That open mine never went ahead because too many people objected. As with this wind farm proposal.

I'm just back from a week (up home) in Harris (attached to lewis to the south) and having driven past where the farms were going it is the most boring place in the world (not the beaches, hills and blackhouses you see in the postcards and on the rest of the island).

There is a lot of local resentment about these plans being knocked back as there was 10-15 years ago about the super quarry. The people who have retired up there from the south of England or have bought second homes are protesting about these things whilst the indigenious locals are desperate for the jobs and money that the projects will generate. The second home brigade care for noone but themselves and heaven forbid there view of the sea is broken by a windfarm.

This is a clear case where the indigenous local community should ahve been allowed to make the decision (as the council did) and it should have stood.

Bye Bye local cash, bye bye local jobs.

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Alert

NIMBY

I am planning on emigrating to Scotland when I retire. I don't want this happening in my backyard...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u14tBwO5QVQ

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Coat

The people who have retired up there from the south of England

IT'S THE ENGLISH!!!

The damned sassernachs keeping good honest scots in poverty!

Ye can buy my hoose at an inflated price, BUT YOU CANNAE HAVE MA FREEEDOM!!

(Mine's the tartan one)

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400 jobs at what cost.

Last century, a lot of new jobs were created on another one of the Western Isles when the Benbecula and North Uist missile ranges were built and the army moved in.

Yes, it created more jobs, but Balivanich is now a total effing dump. Not only did it result in the building of a lot of cheap and ugly houses, but the community was flooded with a foreign culture (yes, English-speaking culture is foreign to parts of the UK). Despite the Mail's scaremongering over Eastern Europeans, there's not enough of them to threaten our culture -- and besides, they're very keen to learn our language. But once you've got more squaddies than locals, and the squaddies take the p*ss out of the language...

OK, so engineers maybe aren't as ar$3y as squaddies, but still... chan eil mi cinnteach carson a tha Aonghas airson seo ann an Leòdhas.

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Anonymous Coward

@Chris Morrison

I was up in Lewis last month and I can assure you that the "indigenous local community" on the Westside are very much against it. I couldn't find one person with a good word to say about LWP.

I'm not surprised the people in Harris aren't against it as its 50-odd miles away from them :-D

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@ Andrew Bush

What do Scotland want? Windfarms, at a guess. I can see two of them from my wee hoose in Ochayethenoo. I'm at the top of a big hill and I can see one in Shotts and one towards East Kilbride.

If you want Hadrian's Wall rebuilt, I'm sure you'll find plenty of Scottish labour willing to do it for free. I'd help, and I'm an Englishman in Scotland.

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Winter turbines?

I would think, having visted the outer isles a fair few times over the years, that wind is the prevailing resource they have there and that it would be a tremendous candidate for wind power. Consequently "This windfarm wouldn't have been able to operate for most of the winter months due to winds being too strong" left me somewhat flabbergasted. What kind of idiot would comission a wind farm that couldn't work in the wind?

Does no-one make turbines suitable for places that are windy? It seems to me that given the cold, dark, depressing island winters that would be the time people might use more electricity and when the wildlife is likely to be a whole lot less active. Is there something wrong with my brain for thinking that is very obvious?

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Ishkandar

It's a Parliament, not a room with a piano in the corner ;-)

It's a waste of time bothering with wind power. It isn't particularly effective and Scotland already creates more electricity than it uses it. If people are that bothered about wind power then why not stick the giant turbines in the Lake District and see how people react.

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Anonymous Coward

Nimbyism (Broonian motion)

Plenty of room still in England for these contraptions - come on down, the price is right.

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Ru
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Joke

@Mike, Re: Goddamn treehugging bunnylovers

Of course you can please them. You can drop down dead.

Tedious stereotypes aside (I presume you're a jackbooted telegraph reader, or fat, bespectacled nerd still living at home? or some unholy combination of the two) I don't imagine that wind or wave power will ever be a practicality, given the demands of our energy hungry cultures. Not to mention the fact that no-one wants anything like that near them, nor nearby anywhere which looks nice, or contains unusual animal or plant species, etc etc. All the plans are pretty much dead from the get go.

The only practical sorts of things are going to be small scale solar and turbine projects, smarter combined heat/power services, blah blah blah. No sign of anything nice like fuel cells on useful scales either.

Bring back the pebble bed nuclear reactor projects, I say.

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Unhappy

@Anon Coward

Same Angus Nicolson. Care to declare your own interests, such as membership of any group opposing the turbines?

Are you still persisting in making the ludicrous claim that there was 'no community benefit'? As two of the estates are actually owned by the community, are you honestly trying to say that none of that would reach the public?

As for there being no cable - Ofgem does not allow speculative cable building. With the advantage of a rational thought process, the developers planned to build a cable after permission was granted. Something of a normal state of affairs for most developments.

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Carbon footprint of concrete

I saw some calculations that with the peat loss for the deep foundations and access roads, plus the CO2 in the concrete production, it would have taken about 80-100 years for the turbines to offset these emissions.

However, by then they would have worn out I suppose.

As for local jobs, there's something wrong if it takes 400 people to maintain 180 turbines. How exactly is that going to save carbon? Oh, it was only 400 people for a transient period....

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Anonymous Coward

@Charco

>Scotland already creates more electricity than it uses it.

Why would they want to make more than they need?

What would they do with it?

They'd never make more whisky than they needed, or golf courses...

I just can't think.

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Go

I am that local opposition...

OK, let's get things into context here.

The grounds for opposition to this scheme were:

1)unsuitable location.

2)inappropriate scale (individual turbines and entire scheme).

3)insufficient benefit in evironmental, social and economic terms to justify the environmental, social and economic costs.

We are not NIMBY's, we just want them in our back yards, not on the moor! In fact support for community renewables on the island is far stronger than the opposition to this huge scheme (See here - http://www.viewsofscotland.org/snp_conference/LewisSurveys-01Nov07-MedRes.pdf)

We have plans in place for a whole load of community wind and wave schemes, have an experimental biodigestion plant and planning is underway for a hydrogen plant to create storage of all this renewable energy we plan to make.

Objections to this scheme were all about protecting our land and communities from cynical and reckless exploitation. The profit from this scheme would have been generated from Renewables Obligation Certificates, not from generation - there was never any guarantee of an interconnector to export the power off the island.

Not one of the many people on the island on fixed incomes would have found a reduction in their fuel bill as a result of this scheme.

Not one local person would be guaranteed employment beyond the construction phase of this scheme.

No guarantees were ever made regarding the cleanup of the site at the end of the life of the scheme.

As for the Chris Morrison's notion that the objections weren't local, I can tell he doesn't get home very often then, I haven't met a living soul from Barvas to Eoropie that thought this was a good idea in anything other than principle. The more educated folks became, the firmer their opposition became. There are only 26,000 people in the entire Western Isles, that 11,000 of them took the opportunity to object and less than 100 took the opportunity to support the scheme is pretty telling.

"GO" because we can get on with serious and useful combined renewables projects now this ill conceived nonsense is finished with.

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Unhappy

@I am that local opposition

>Not one of the many people on the island on fixed incomes would have found a reduction in their fuel bill as a result of this scheme.

Ofgem prevent the turbine operators providing subsidised power 'to avoid distortion of the market'. BUT, there is a way to provide cheaper power without falling foul of Ofgem.

>Not one local person would be guaranteed employment beyond the construction phase of this scheme.

Oh f! We're not all subsidy junkies, or opposed to migrant workers from Glasgow, England or Eastern Europe. Some of us like to work for a living, and are not expecting money dropped into our laps.

>No guarantees were ever made regarding the cleanup of the site at the end of the life of the scheme.

Rubbish. Condition 1 (a) demanded a restoration bond be put in place before in works started. All the conditions are at http://angusnicolson.blogspot.com/LWPConditions.pdf

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Happy

@What exactly do Scotland want?

Rebuilding Hadrian's wall sound like a good idea as it would put everthing north of Carlise to Newcastle in to the new expanded Scotland.

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co2 emissions

"I saw some calculations that with the peat loss for the deep foundations and access roads, plus the CO2 in the concrete production, it would have taken about 80-100 years for the turbines to offset these emissions."

Back of the paper you understand, so I'm rounding everything. 3MW Wind Turbine. Will average (it's a high wind location) ~ 1MW actual production. 175 TWh of energy produced in 20 years. Call it a kilo of Co2 per Kwh, that's 175,000 tonnes of Co2 in 20 years.

Now I believe it's 55 kilo's of carbon per cubic metre of peat, or about 200 kg of C02.

Dividing through, that means approx 850 thousand cubic metres of peat will need to completely dry out per wind turbine (given that the rest, fabrication etc is normally given at around 6 months so a much smaller sum).

Up to you if you think that's a high number for drying out or low, personally it sounds like quite a lot (5 metres depth completely and utterly losing all its C02 across a circle of diameter >400m.)

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Pirate

ignorance

This is so typically biased both from two extremes (both in arguments for and against). But the anger and resentment is understandable. One could not imagine a more risky approach than to suggest in a grand way to have almost two hundred of ill designed windmills? I am for windturbines but this particular proposal is just baffling and I cannot see why it should have been supported by the local council.

How many turbines does this island community have at the moment? What kind of experiences do they have locally of this technology? Or is it the kind of approach which relies on an external consortium saying 'trust me - we know what we are doing'.... Well good for them!

Instead of going for illconceived large scale projects they should setup a handfull of individual windmills initially. These should be carefully placed on the island and after a few years when the islanders have experience of what it is that they have gotten themselves into then expansion could be made stepwise if the project so far is succesful. And stepwise means a handful of windmills at a time at the most. Not these overconfident grand plans based on self interest and lack of experience of context. Also it is perfectly possible to make turbines that cope with heavy winds... They can be found in some windy places offshore - for example in the Scandinavian countries.

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@JonB

It's for the rest of the UK. The only way I would support wind power would be if it were off-shore and being used to replace an existing power station. In this case it's just to add to the network for people outwith Scotland.

As for Whisky - I'm sure there's plenty of that made to sell to people outwith Scotland. Not too sure about how you sell a Golf Course though...they don't come in IKEA flat packs do they?

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Pirate

So Nuclear it is, then?

Not commenting on the local situation, it's obvious that the locals, the ones who would be affected, didn't like the scheme because it was probably wrong for the area.

Generally, as far as I can tell, environmentalists and ecologists are against the generation of electricity from any source. Although the alternatives are to go back to cooking on firewood, using diesel generators and coal burning steam engines.

They don't like nuclear because of pollution. They don't like coal and gas because of fossil fuels and carbon footprints. They don't like wind farms because of the big ugly windmill things chopping up birds. They don't like wave farms because they upset the delicate sea environment. They don't like solar, because on a commercial scale you would need a lot of solar panels. And if farmers who try to put up fields of plastic greenhouses have problems, the idea of fields of shiny solar panels would have the ecologists marching on them with pitchforks and burning torches.

So it looks like we will either have to move to nuclear fuel, because it's carbon neutral and we can build the new ones next to the decommisioned ones in places nobody wants to live.

Or we could import our electricity, like we do the gas, from countries who don't give a frig about anything except making a profit out of the UK.

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Unhappy

When I see 'Lewis wind farm plan'...

...I think that they were going to harness the power of British journalists talking about the resident F1 star. Reality, unfortunately, disappoints.

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Black Helicopters

Nothing wrong with objections

But let's cut out all the guff about special wetlands - those who would be those areas of atrophied vegetation and reduced biodiversity brought on by the highland clearances.

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Joke

@ Andrew Bush / What do scotland want

Havent you guys paid attention to any of Alex Salmonds speeches? The north sea oil will save scotland! Its going to allow us not to pay any taxes, and have free health care and education, oh, and its going to clean up the messes that dogs leave after them and repaint our houses too.

And any claim that there is no more oil is just labout party propoganda.

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Anonymous Coward

Rebuilding Hadrian's Wall

...now that the nukes are running down and the oil's running out. Nice timing. Who wanted the union in the first place?

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Flame

Power Alternatives

The general public are never happy with power solutions put forward - we want renewable sources of energy such as wind farms, but we don't want them to spoil the landscape (usually high up on hills, where they are best suited to be).

We also don't want new nuclear stations to be built - but if you build one down south, of course we'll be happy to use the energy from it.

Get it sorted people - start accepting that to use renewables, we're going to have to sacrifice some of those oh-so-precious hillsides to ensure your lightbulbs remain lit.

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@Stuart Baird

well there is the point that we export power to england and have been doing so for quite a long time...but what the hell don't let actual facts get in the way...

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I've been to Scotland

Best place in the world for a wind farm, and a pint of McEwans!

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IT Angle

Re: @What exactly do Scotland want?

“Rebuilding Hadrian's wall sound like a good idea as it would put [everything] north of [Carlisle] to Newcastle in to the new expanded Scotland.”

I for one would not welcome our new Scottish overlords. Mind you, I don't welcome the one down south either…

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Alien

Bring Back Human sacrifice

Less people, less power needs, more dicky birds and otters

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Jobs Halo

Nimby over here

If the Nimbys got it right how is it that LWP were so keen on the site?

It's not NIMBY it is BANANA (build absolutely nothing anywhere near anyone).

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Anonymous Coward

@Angus Nicolson (@I Am that local opposition)

The people on fixed income I was thinking of are the quarter of the island population over 60 years old - the people who are finding the value of the pound in their pension-poke lessening by the fortnight, while fuel costs are rising daily. You have to phone Colin MacAskill every week at the moment to find out if the price of a bag of coal is the same as it was a week ago.

The economics of the LWP scheme were totally bogus, the cost/benefit and risk/reward ratios favoured the developer and didn't guarantee anyone anything.

If I remember right there was originally £7.9 million on offer annually when the installed capacity was to be 702MW, then reduced to £5.25 million when the planned installed capacity was reduced to 651.6MW - this dependent on an output based on the optimistic load capacity of 0.35. A more likely load factor is 0.3 and 0.2 and less is not unknown. What does that work out at in fiscal terms?

Never mind the issues relating to deals agreed prior to community buyouts. The island didn't want this for more reasons than can be presented to the planning committee you sat on.

When I mentioned there being no local jobs, I wasn't referring to "migrant workers from Glasgow, England or Eastern Europe" coming to build or run it, I was thinking along the lines of the site being unmanned, remotely monitored and with maintenance resources flown in from elsewhere as required.

Ultimately it was those with a less optimistic opinion of the environmental impact than you who prevailed, not the informed democratic concensus - and that is sad.

I have no vested interest other than being a Westside resident and certainly no political axe to grind other than finding the shower of you vaguely amusing. I hope you haven't been too traumatised by the whole experience to continue to advocate renewables in the Hebrides but with a better eye on public opinion and environmental concerns. We are the guardians of this land and we have a duty of care to it. This plan would not have achieved it's stated objectives.

There has to be a change to the strategic approach to the economics of renewables to make them successful and sustainable.

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Unhappy

The Usual

This is typical of the Scottish Government. They talk a good game about taking the lead and making the country self-sufficient, world leader blah blah blah.... But when it comes to making a decision they always take the easy way out especially when it comes to votes.

This country will always be always be a joke until someone is preapred to look to the future and not to the next election date

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Anonymous Coward

@Charco

>It's for the rest of the UK. (...) just to add to the network for people outwith Scotland.

That is the nature of an export, you do realise that they pay for it, and a premium price for wind power at that?

>As for Whisky

Most of it goes for export, some of it even goes to the English.

>Not too sure about how you sell a Golf Course though..

People come from "outwith" Scotland on a variety of transport, they bring money from "outwith" Scotland inwith them, they pay to play, they pay for the hotel to stay in, they pay for the haggis and chips and then they bugger off again. It's an export just as much as whisky or electricity or ships.

Your objection seems to be based on the idea of never building a new power station, but the population grows, power demands grow and we need more power stations to supply it. Scotland could do well out of this boom, although I do know how they like to live off benefits instead.

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Stop

NIMBYism is a market force

I'm tired of marketeers dingin doun nimbyism.

Look, my back yard is my back yard. You want it, you buy it. If you don't offer me enough for it, I won't sell.

Don't ask me to give up my back yard for "the greater good" because really it's only to line someone else's pocket.

What's capitalism for the goose is capitalism for the gander.

Besides, turbines should be in or near cities, to reduce transmission losses. There's a couple of turbines on the outskirts of Dundee. There's a wind farm 10 miles from Stirling. Can't we shove a few round the M25? If nothing else it would give the folk something to look at while stuck in traffic jams.

Green generation isn't the whole answer -- we need more efficient use too.

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@JonB

Scotland would do well not to destroy it's main selling point of scenic views/walks. Already there are plans for massive pylons to go through the Highlands and Perthshire ruining views. The simple fact is that Scotland doesn't need these turbines. Yes, you can sell the electricity but then any money made would only make up for money lost from tourism...Come to Scotland and see...eh...some giant wind turbines.

If they want to put Turbines some where then why not put them somewhere without the views? I know folks don't think much of Lewis (I've never been, just seen the postcard views) but I'm sure they still make money from tourism.

If you checked you'd realise Scotland has a pretty much static population apart from fluxuations caused by Eastern Europeans coming and going. Your comment about Scottish people living off benefits is just ignorant. Scottish unemployment is on par with anywhere else in the UK (last year Scottish employment was again higher than the rest of the UK).

Perhaps they should just build a wind farm between Glasgow and Edinburgh along the motorway. There's nothing much to see there anyway.

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The scale of the thing

I grew up in the Western Isles and all the people I talked to were against the proposal in its current form.

I now live in on the west coast of Ireland which experiences very similar weather as Lewis. There are several wind farms along the coast, the difference being that the number of turbines would usually be no larger than 10. There has been little or no objection to these local farms and although they are prominant on the hills people have got used to them.

I believe if smaller, local schemes of 6 to 10 turbines were proposed for the Western Isles there would be a lot less objection. But obviously there wouldn't be the same gravy train/kickbacks for landowners, contractors, haulage firms etc etc

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Boffin

@JonB

Outwith is actually a word in fairly common use in Scotland. It's one of the couple of words that made it into the local version of English from Scots. Similar to the whole gray/grey thing.

Suprised me when I moved down and found out the rest of the universe didn't care for our fine linguistic conventions. Nice sarcastic coining on 'inwith', did like that.

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