The battle between community landowner The Stornoway Trust and several crofting townships over the sites for wind turbines reached a new level today (Wednesday September 19th).

First the Stornoway Trust welcomed the long-awaited decision from the Crofting Commission not to consent the Section 50B application submitted by the Grazing Committees of Melbost and Branahuie, Sandwick and Sandwick East Street, and Sandwick North Street.

In a detailed judgment issued to each applicant who had sought consent to establish wind turbines on the site of the already consented Stornoway Wind Farm proposed development, the Commission explains it considered and accepted, as a matter of fact, that the proposed use would be detrimental to the interest of the Stornoway Trust as set out in Section 50B (2) of the 1993 Crofting Act.

The Crofting Commission has only made a decision on three of the four applications – Melbost and Branahuie, Sandwick East Street and Sandwick North Street – but not yet about the fourth, from Aignish.

Stornoway Trustee Calum Maclean, Chairman of the Trust’s Renewable Sub Group stressed that the Trust’s objective in opposing the application was to safeguard the benefits the community stands to gain from the larger Stornoway Wind Farm project. 

The Trust was focused on protecting the interests of all the crofters involved, rather than trying to merely thwart the aspiration of the three townships.

Mr Maclean further stated that whilst it appeared that these townships had acted on poor advice, he shared the Trust’s view that the prospect of our community securing a greater share in our wind generation potential was now a step closer thanks to the Commission.

But the townships hit back immediately with a joint statement.

Rhoda Mackenzie, spokesperson for the townships, said:  It is over two years since we submitted our application and the commission are clearly no longer fit for purpose, as everybody knows following the grazings committee debacle.

“We have already prepared and will now be submitting an appeal to the Land Court against this decision.

“The only interesting thing about the commission’s decision is that they rejected all of the landowner’s objects except one… and that is that the landowner wants the Stornoway Wind Farm to go ahead, rather than the four community projects.

“We have always made clear that the four projects will directly replace 21 of the Stornoway Wind Farm turbines but that still leaves 17 turbines for EDF.

“There is no reason, therefore, why the community turbines on our four grazings cannot be developed in tandem with the 17 turbines elsewhere.

“That would be much more beneficial to the community, produce much more money going back into the local economy and would not be in any way detrimental to the Stornoway Trust.

“This has been anticipated from the outset and we had always intended to take this to the Land Court and for it to be heard amongst our objections to EDF’s Section 19 applications.”

The four townships made their applications under Section 50B of the 1993 Crofting Act.

(Since being posted, this article has been adjusted to allow for the fact that the Commission has only rejected three of the four applications so far)