A Lewis community trust is to receive almost £2 million from a windfarm that is NOT going to be built.
As a goodwill gesture, energy giant ENGIE will pay out £1.92 million to the Muaitheabhal Community Wind Farm Trust, despite pulling out of plans to build a 130 MW windfarm on Eishken last year.
Uncertaintly about the delivery of a £800 interconnecter cable eventually put paid to the firm's development plans.
If the project had gone ahead, the MCWFT would have received a £1 million payment annually for the next 25 years.
As things stand, the latest tranche of funding brings the total paid out to MCWFT to £3 million, to be used for community development projects in the area.
Iain MacIver, MCWFT Chairperson, said: “The prospect of securing this significant payment, without exposing the community to any financial risk, is now a comforting reality. ENGIE have to be commended for the way in which they have dealt with us, honouring their obligations in the process. Of added encouragement is the prospect of another developer now stepping in to complete the windfarm. Fundamental to that happening is the long awaited subsea link to the mainland needed to unlock the Island’s energy resource”.
Steve Riley, CEO & President of Energy UK-Turkey for ENGIE, commented: “It was disappointing that we were unable to pursue the wind farm project due to a number of external delays. It is important to us that we honour our commitments to the local community and we are pleased to have reached an agreement with the Trust.”
Meanwhile, MCWFT says it continues to work closely with the Landlord of the Eishken Estate to secure further benefit for the area.
Should there be a wind farm development on Eishken, the Landlord has undertaken to require the new developer to pay an additional annual payment of 1% of windfarm revenue, estimated to be worth over £600,000 per annum to the Trust.
With the likely energisation date for grid connected projects now envisaged for 2020 the Trust says it will continue to efficiently manage its existing fund, as well as being conscious of the arrangement with the Western Isles Development Trust.