The four crofting townships seeking to develop community-owned wind farms on their common grazings near Stornoway are calling on the Stornoway Trust chairman, Norman Maciver, to step down after it was revealed that he is planning to develop a private wind farm in Lewis.

Pre-application screening plans for the development at Tol Mor, north-west of Upper Barvas, have been submitted to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar. 

The proposed wind turbine development consists of a minimum of six wind turbines with proposed tower height of 92m and rotor diameter of 115m. The proposed tip height is approximately 150m. The proposed capacity is 24MW (4MW per turbine).

The agent for the development is Stillwind Ltd, based in Hexham, Northumberland, which describes itself as a specialist consultancy within the renewable energy sector and has two directors, David and Rhona Still. 

The grazing committees of Sandwick North Street, Sandwick East Street and Lower Sandwick, Melbost and Branahuie, and Aignish submitted a joint letter to the Stornoway Trust factor, Iain Maciver, this morning (Monday, January 28), calling for Mr Maciver to step down as both chairman and trustee, following the revelation.

They say: "It is a fact that there will be limited space on the local Lewis grid - even after any grid upgrade or new interconnector. 

"It is also a fact that anyone seeking to develop a wind farm in Lewis is in competition for the limited potential space on that grid with other developers seeking to develop a wind farm in Lewis.

"That being the case, the Chairman of the Stornoway Trust, Norman Maciver, is now in competition as a developer against other potential developments for space on the grid.  

"Those other potential developments include, but are not restricted to, the community wind farm developments being proposed by community bodies in Barvas, Carloway, Galson, Coll and Point.

"We are not saying that competition is a bad thing, we are just saying that it is an inevitable consequence of limited space on the grid whether now or in the future. 

"It follows that there is a clear conflict of interest between Norman Maciver's position as a private wind farm developer and his role as Chairman of the Stornoway Trust. 

"This is particularly the case when he is involved in decision making by the Trust, or in making comments on behalf of the Trust, which pertain to any other wind farm developments seeking to use the Lewis grid. 

"This conflict of interest should have been disclosed to the Board by Mr Maciver as soon as he began planning to develop a wind farm in Barvas."

The planning application was received by the Council on January 10th 2019.  It is available here.

The letter of protest was signed by Donald M Macdonald, Aignish Grazings Committee; Willie Macfarlane, Melbost and Branahuie Grazings Committee; Calum Buchanan, Sandwick East Street and Lower Sandwick Grazings Committee and Rhoda Mackenzie, Sandwick North Street Grazings Committee.