The Stornoway Trust has welcomed the announcement of the Scottish Land Court hearing to be held in Stornoway from December 12th.
In a statement, it says this is a mandatory step in progressing a 19a Scheme for Development – the legislation under which Lewis Wind Power is seeking consent to build its 36-turbine Stornoway Wind Farm.
Stornoway Trust Chairman, Norman A MacIver said, ‘We have been waiting some time for this date to be set, and we’re very pleased that it is due to happen next month.
“Our understanding is that this may be preliminary to a final hearing, with the intention of ironing out some procedural detail in the first instance’.
Recently, three of the four townships who oppose this scheme had their 50B applications rejected by the Crofting Commission on the grounds that granting them would cause detriment to the landlord – the Stornoway Trust.
Mr MacIver said, ‘It’s sad that these townships are pursuing this, despite the Commission’s ruling. We are also disappointed by the repetition of untruths, such as the length of the lease with Lewis Wind Power. We hear the period of 70 years repeatedly mentioned, though the lease is actually for 25. After the initial construction phase is completed, there is no barrier to crofting activity either."
The Stornoway Trust also rejects any suggestion that it has not communicated with the crofters concerned, citing a total of 72 public, and consultation, meetings, and meetings with individual grazing committees.
‘We are disappointed’, Norman A MacIver said, ‘that the language used around this issue has been so divisive on the part of the four townships and their spokespeople.
“However, SSE has submitted its needs case for the interconnector, based on this project, and the other LWP wind farm at Uisenis, and that will provide the community with spare capacity to progress their own developments. There is every reason for the community to be optimistic about the future.
“Lewis Wind Power has the lease, planning consent and grid connection, and is ready to bid in the Contract for Difference auction early next year. Stornoway Trust is continuing to work with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar on progressing a joint venture, which will ensure that this development includes the largest ever community stake."
For Stornoway Wind Farm, Will Collins, LWP Project Manager, said: “The Stornoway Wind Farm would be located across a number of common grazings and we - as any developer would be - are required to obtain approval from the Land Court in order to protect the interests of the crofting community.
“The hearing next month is simply the latest stage in this process which has been followed by a number of other wind farm developments, including Beinn Ghrideag Wind Farm.
“LWP’s application being considered by the Land Court provides for payments to crofters in recognition of the limited impact on access to a small proportion of the overall grazings, and the Court’s role will be to assess the fairness of the package we have developed in close consultation with local grazings and their advisers. Eighty per cent of those who were entitled to object raised no objection.
“In addition to our Land Court application we are working closely with the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the democratically-run community landlord, The Stornoway Trust, to ensure a significant community shareholding in the Stornoway Wind Farm and our Uisenis Wind Farm.
“We believe the stake on offer would make the council and the Trust the largest community investors in wind power anywhere in the UK and would deliver several million pounds each year to be invested by the community in the things that matter to people on the islands - over and above the community benefit payments from the two projects.”