A former Labour MP for the Western Isles has warned island crofters that they will lose key rights over their common grazings to EDF, the giant multinational utility that is behind the planned Lewis Wind Power wind farm on the Point and Sandwick Common Grazings, if it is successful with its present Section 19 application to the Scottish Land Court.
Calum MacDonald, who now develops community-owned wind farms including the award-winning Beinn Ghrideag belonging to Point and Sandwick Trust, has urged crofting shareholders to register objections with the Scottish Land Court by this Thursday, August 24, or risk losing their development rights over the grazings.
Mr MacDonald said: “Crofters in the Point and Sandwick area of Lewis should be aware that EDF’s Section 19 application currently before the Land Court will remove any and all development rights they have over the Common Grazings for at least the next 70 years.
“This will be a huge loss of their rights for crofters and will affect not just the current shareholders but their children and even their children’s children as well.
“These rights currently belong to the community but if EDF’s Section 19 application is approved by the Land Court, all these rights will belong exclusively to EDF or to whichever other multinationals and financial institutions they sell these rights to in the decades in the future. The community opportunity will be lost for generations to come.
“I find it shocking that this massive transfer of rights and power is being pushed through without any proper discussion or debate. I therefore welcome the recent statement by the SNP group on the Western Isles Council backing the crofters against EDF.
“I call upon our Parliamentary representatives, the MP and MSP, to now follow the lead of their colleagues on the Council and to intervene urgently with EDF and to get them to withdraw their Land Court application unless they can demonstrate that they have the support of the local crofters and townships for their action.
“As things stand, unfortunately, EDF appear determined to railroad their claim through the Land Court leaving the Point and Sandwick villages with zero economic rights in the future.
"That is why I urge all crofters in the Point and Sandwick area, if they haven’t already done so, to write to the Clerk of the Land Court at 126 George St in Edinburgh and to let them know of their concern at the way this is being pushed through.
“If enough crofters write in, the Land Court will have to hold a hearing, probably in Stornoway, and these issue can then be properly aired and debated by the crofters and their representatives.
"But if they don’t register their concern now before the 24th, the opportunity will be forever lost and they will find themselves reduced to the status of second-rate citizens on their own land.”
The full address to send objections to is The Principal Clerk, George House, 126 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4HH.