Let’s get back to windfarms, shall we? It’s been a few weeks since I wrote
anything about it but there has been a lot going on, in terms of the fight
between the crofters and French multinational EDF for the right to develop
renewables on the land around Stornoway.
There has been a huge amount of media attention over the past month –
including a seven-minute piece on Channel 4 News – and this has unearthed
some apparent conflicts of interest as well as a lot of wheeling and
dealing and general shenanigans.
I’m not going to go over it all again – all my previous stories on the
issue are available under the ‘renewables’ category on this blog – but a
lot of people are now watching to see what EDF, along with project partners
Wood Group, are going to do next in order to get their controversial
36-turbine Stornoway wind farm across the line.
EDF and partner Wood Group – going by the name Lewis Wind Power up here –
have been given a 70-year lease to the ground from the Stornoway Trust.
Their plans are bitterly opposed by a number of crofting townships who want
to develop their own renewables schemes – and have the wherewithal to do so
– but EDF are steamrollering ahead, with a hostile legal action that is
currently working its way through the Scottish Land Court.
The main reason they have been able to get this far is because they have
enjoyed the massive support of the Stornoway Trust, ironically the oldest
and biggest community landowner in the country, and our local authority,
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.
That is exceptionally frustrating – and, to be honest, somewhat distressing
– for so many of the islanders who want to see more development of
For reasons we cannot understand, the Comhairle seems Hell-bent on making
sure Electricité de France gets every single one of the 81 turbines it
wants for Lewis, even though the four crofting townships involved in this
are quite capable of developing 21 of the turbines themselves and returning
much more money into the local economy.
The crofters would be using the same technical, financial and business
model that has proved so successful for Point and Sandwick Trust.
I have been banging my David and Goliath drum for long enough and felt that
we were getting nowhere. So, I admit, it has been very satisfying to see
the issue finally hit the primetime news.
To get your story on Channel 4 News – it was also in The Guardian the month
before (Crofters on Lewis fight EDF and Wood Group’s wind farm proposal)
and then the Daily Mail and on Radio 4 shortly afterwards – is the Ace in
pack when it comes to coverage.
And although the talk in the steamie is dying down now, the aftershocks are
still being felt.
I want to talk a closer look now at who said what in the Channel 4 piece
(Crofters fight EDF wind farm plan) and the rather interesting connections
that exist between some senior local politicians (clue: it’s more than one)
I also want to bust some myths, particularly the inaccuracies being peddled
by EDF’s Kerry MacPhee about the interconnector – because, my goodness, we
But let’s start at the start.
I knew the Channel 4 programme was in the pipeline for months and was very
pleased to see Alex Thomson, its chief correspondent, arrive in Stornoway
with a crew for a week in February – read about that in A Whole Lot of
Media Activity. Yes, we had to wait weeks for the piece to be screened, but
it was worth the wait.
It was a slam-dunk. An extremely lucid piece of journalism. This is a
complex issue and Alex – pictured here in a piece to camera at the Point
and Sandwick Trust wind farm – just got it.