Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Leader, Cllr Angus Campbell, met with senior energy spokespersons from the SNP, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties in London yesterday (8th February).
The meetings supported the Comhairle's recent submission to the DBEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) consultation around non-mainland wind.
Cllr Campbell outlined the transformational economic benefits that could be achieved by the establishment of a renewables industry in the Outer Hebrides, as well as outlining the significant benefits to the UK consumer of tapping into low-cost, clean, green energy from the Outer Hebrides.
Cllr Campbell said: "It was disappointing that "Remote Island Wind" was recently disqualified from participating in the next Contracts for Difference auction. I was heartened, however, by the quality of submissions to the recent islands wind consultation and the unanimity of purpose behind these submissions. Virtually every respondent understood the benefits to be achieved from wind energy and the need for an inter-connector to achieve that potential. There was a high level of understanding around the need for large commercial projects to underwrite and fund the significant cost of the inter-connector. The vast majority of respondents clearly understood that the local grid is at full capacity and that without an inter-connector no project - be they commercial or community - will proceed in the Outer Hebrides.
"I was also heartened by the goodwill of the politicians, from all parties, that I met with today. They understand how the regulatory system works and what is required if the transformational benefits of renewable energy is to be delivered in the Outer Hebrides. I was extremely heartened by their positive commitment to the islands and their willingness to proactively work with us and to proactively engage with Government, to ensure these benefits are delivered.
“In addition to the economic benefits, the party representatives I met with, were hugely enthused by the potential of bringing around 70MW of generation from the large scale commercial projects into community ownership and how that community-owned energy could be used to reduce electricity costs and fuel poverty across the Hebrides.”
Representatives of the Comhairle will also be meeting with Government Ministers, DBEIS officials and representatives of the Climate Change Committee today (9th February). The overwhelming case for the establishment of a renewables industry in the Outer Hebrides and the need for large-scale interconnection will be reiterated at these meetings.
Cllr. Campbell added: "There is a window of opportunity over the next few weeks, as the Government comes to a conclusion on the island wind consultation, to press the case for a Hebridean energy industry. I will be taking every opportunity to make that case. I, like the vast majority of respondents to the recent consultation, believe that large scale inter-connection to the National Grid is the only credible and realistic to achieve that ambition. The most positive way forward is to work together to achieve the big Renewables win that the Outer Hebrides public deserves ".
“I would therefore urge anyone who believes in the potential of renewable energy and who has the future economic interests of the Outer Hebrides at heart to join us in making a positive case to Government.”