Well, who would have believed it? The Scottish Government has taken a principled stand and turned down the application to build a 181 turbine windfarm here on Lewis. The scheme has finally been refused consent on the grounds of incompatibility with European Union law. The government concluded that the windfarm would have had a seriously negative impact on the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area and would be in breach of the EU bird directive. The statement also said that there had been 11000 objections to the windfarm with only 98 in support of the project.
In his statement, the Energy Minister said :
-- " The Government will now carry out work on how to develop renewable energy in the Western Isles in harmony with its outstanding natural heritage. This work will result in an action plan for sustainable development on the islands and will be ready in the autumn"
I am amazed that this decision has been made because the cynic in me assumed that the powerful vested interests involved, Lewis Wind Power and the Western Isles council particularly, would have bulldozed the application through. They are now complaining bitterly about the lost opportunities and loss of potential jobs and have retreated to consider their next moves.
The people have spoken though and the Government has listened. Astonishing. Gladdens the heart and restores a little faith in politicians.
There is much support on these islands for renewable energy schemes, but most people want to see small scale developments that bring direct benefits to the communities involved and do not create the environmental havoc that this windfarm proposal would have caused.
Around the island, there are a number of villages that have lodged applications for planning permissionl for wind farms of their own, usually involving just a few turbines. There is also a pilot scheme for a tidal generator at Shader, Barvas and many schools and community centres here have single or twin wind turbines producing electricity.
Don't think I've mentioned the goose problem before. There are thousands of Greylag geese on the islands. They are a resident, rather than migratory species. They are grazing birds and are increasing in number year by year.This increase in the goose population has led them to be regarded now as major pests by many crofters because of the significant damage they do to grassland and other crops. As a result of the need to protect the agricultural interests of crofters, especially in Uist, where the problem is most acute, UGGMS was born! The Uist Greylag Goose Management Scheme is sanctioned by Scottish Natural Heritage and works to protect crops from the birds by shooting ( known in the trade apparently as lethal scaring) , leaping about looking frightening and the use of devices such as kites and gas guns. Almost 1500 geese were shot in Uist last autumn and UGGMS has recently received approval for a further three years, although not from the geese themselves obviously. The Stornoway Gazette helpfully printed recipes a while ago on the best ways to cook your goose.
Little happening on the house just now, but I'm about to burst into action and start the decorating. The builder is slowly working his way through the remaining minor works. The flexible chimney liner for the stove has still not arrived almost a fortnight after it was ordered. It's now almost three weeks since the CORGI plumbers were asked to come and connect the calor gas hob and they still won't give me a firm date for the job to be done. The kitchen and bathroom are to be tiled and a tiler with a good reputation for reliability arranged with me to come to the house this evening to measure up and give me an estimate. I came back from working in Uist to be here for him and he has simply not turned up. No phone call, no explanation.
Furthermore, diesel is now 130 pence a litre all over the island.
The weather is brilliant though. Too hot to wear a jumper for the last few days and wonderful sunsets each night this week so far.