Stornoway windfarm auction failure sparks community reaction

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The four community energy companies seeking to develop renewables on their common grazings on Lewis have responded to last week’s announcement that Stornoway windfarm was unsuccessful in the 2019 CfD auction.

Rhoda Mackenzie made the statement on behalf of Sandwick North, Sandwick East, Melbost Branahuie and Aignish Community Energy companies, calling for ‘a new approach’ in developing renewables on the Isle of Lewis – one that puts community energy at its heart.

The four companies, which have been locked in a legal battle with Stornoway windfarm developer, Lewis Wind Power, for the right to develop on the common grazings, said it was time for a Plan B.

Ms Mackenzie said: ‘Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Stornoway Trust have always argued that the Lewis Wind Power windfarm was essential to get a new interconnector to the Western Isles.

‘The logic of that argument is the interconnector cannot now happen, given LWP’s failure in the subsidy auction.

‘We believe it is time for a new approach. There is still plenty of scope to develop renewables on the islands but we need to do so in a way that puts community-owned energy front and centre.

‘The right way forward is to increase the capacity of the existing grid via new demand through electrification and hydrogen, install new storage via battery, and start working on an upgrade of the existing Skye connector.

‘It is essential the new Plan B is built around, by and for community-owned energy as that is the only way to keep the income and profits in the islands.

‘The comhairle must not see the CfD outcome as a defeat but as an opportunity to take the lead in developing a new partnership with the community energy companies in the islands to work together and to unite around a new Plan B.’