Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has appealed to the Government in Westminster to fast-track approval for the interconnector electricity link to the mainland in order to boost the local economy and support the sustainable development of renewable energy in the post Covid-19 world.
Leaders at the local council say that: "Approval of the Western Isles Transmission Link will unlock £2 billion of investment in Western Isles projects, contribute 500MW of green electricity generation to the UK’s drive towards Net Zero and create hundreds of jobs."
According to the Comhairle’s Chair of Sustainable Development, Councillor Donald Crichton, “The transmission link and wind farms already consented in the Western Isles can help power Scotland to a cleaner economic recovery in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
"The UK energy regulator must now approve the Western Isles Transmission Link and help Scotland and the rest of the UK to emerge from the worst economic downturn in 300 years while taking steps to meet critical climate goals”.
Alok Sharma, the UK Secretary of State for Business, has said that Renewable Energy projects will be a key part of ensuring a green and resilient economic recovery as well as reaching the UK’s target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (2045 in Scotland).
CnES says that "major energy players like BP and Iberdrola" are already kickstarting wind farm projects to “funnel money back through the supply chain and into jobs and to make sure that the economic recovery is based on sustainable investments”.
Ignacia Galán, Chairman and Chief Executive of Iberdrola, says, “As we begin to emerge from the Coronavirus crisis, investment in renewables can quickly be delivered, creating jobs and offering immediate economic and environmental benefits. This will help to support the UK’s overall recovery at this critical time”.
Councillor Crichton reflected this view for the Western Isles: “We have shovel-ready projects, consented and contracted to grid, which have been delayed for years by obscure regulatory blockages.
"Global oil markets are collapsing and investors are turning their backs on fossil fuels in favour of renewables.
"With unemployment set to rise post-COVID and families facing unimaginable economic challenges, now is not the time to be stalling on £2 billion of private investment for the sake of the few pence on electricity bills it will take to deliver the Western Isles Transmission Link.
"We call on the Regulator and Government to take the necessary action.”