IN May 2013 this columnist opined it was difficult to overstate the anger and sheer frustration felt in the islands, particularly across the Minch. This because the much-vaunted vision of creating an age of prosperity founded on wind, wave and tidal energy appeared to be disappearing over the horizon. There was still no commitment to laying the subsea cable necessary to take the extra power generated by the green energy projects in the islands to the mainland to connect with the national grid. An important deadline for signing a contract for the work had been missed. Three and a half years on, the anger and frustration have intensified. The Western Isles faces a 13.7% decrease in population by the year 2039, and desperately needs an economic catalyst. But the UK Government’s plans to curb subsidies for new onshore wind farms mean energy companies believe it’s too expensive to start laying cables without the subsidies. But there is one glimmer of hope, a new consultation seeking views on whether island wind developments should be treated differently than those on the mainland. There have been discussions about laying ‘interconnectors’ to the islands at least since the ultimately unsuccessful plans for the first giant wind farm for Lewis were unveiled in 2001. That’s 15 years – the total time it took to build the Forth Rail Bridge (six years), the Channel Tunnel (six years) and the Skye Bridge (three years); or indeed to fight the Boer War, the two world wars and most of the Korean campaign.
Herald 14th Dec 2016 read more »