Fears for islands industry
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.’