Fears for is­lands in­dus­try

The Oban Times - - NEWS -

COMHAIRLE nan Eilean Siar has warned that a de­lay in progress of wind tech­nol­ogy for re­mote is­lands is putting ‘ the fu­ture of a new is­lands in­dus­try at huge and un­ac­cept­able risk’.

The coun­cil has said that the West­ern Isles stands to ‘lose out on the huge op­por­tu­ni­ties of the re­new­ables in­dus­try’ if a lack of as­sis­tance from the UK gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues.

West­ern Isles Coun­cil, which has worked closely with both UK and Scot­tish gov­ern­ments to prove the case for is­land wind, says it will gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity at a ‘sig­nif­i­cantly lower cost’ than nu­clear and off­shore wind.

But de­spite gov­ern­ment sup­port for the re­mote is­lands wind tech­nol­ogy, the coun­cil has said it is ‘hugely dis­ap­point­ing that the UK gov­ern­ment, hav­ing ac­cepted the ar­gu­ments and es­tab­lished the tech­nol­ogy cat­e­gory, has not moved for­ward to the next stage of the process’.

Three of the is­lands’ lead­ers have writ­ten to Greg Clark, Sec­re­tary of State for busi­ness, en­ergy and in­dus­trial strat­egy, ex­press­ing con­cern about ‘ the ef­fects of con­tin­ued un­cer­tainty on sup­port for large-scale re­new­able en­ergy projects’.

The coun­cil said that plans to ex­ploit the is­lands’ ‘con­sid­er­able re­new­able en­ergy po­ten­tial’ have been curbed by the lack of an elec­tric­ity ex­port con­nec­tion, an in­ter­con­nec­tor be­tween the is­lands and the Na­tional Grid. It added that there are ‘a num­ber of steps which re­quire to be un­der­taken be­fore this can hap­pen al­though it is hoped that the in­ter­con­nec­tor will be in place by 2021’.

Comhairle leader An­gus Camp­bell said: ‘The im­por­tance of gen­er­at­ing elec­tric­ity from large-scale re­new­able projects can­not be un­der­es­ti­mated. There are con­sid­er­able ben­e­fits to the is­lands, in­clud­ing cheaper elec­tric­ity, op­por­tu­ni­ties for the is­lands sup­ply chain, new jobs, ap­pren­tice­ships and rev­enue ben­e­fits for our com­mu­ni­ties.’

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