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Scotland’s windpower revolution must directly benefit island communities if the energy transition to sustainable power generation is to succeed. 

That was the message Torcuil Crichton took to the stage of the Labour conference on the weekend as the party laid out plans for the publicly-owned GB Energy to be based in Scotland.

Speaking at the Scottish Labour gathering, the party’s candidate for Na h-Eileanan and Iar, said the move to renewables would take the entire effort of the private sector, government and crucially, local communities directly affected by developments. 

He said: “We are going to be in the North Sea for years to come but the transition is coming and we in the islands are going to be affected more than most.”

Mr Crichton told delegates in Glasgow: “Not one turbine blade is going to turn without massive investment from the UK Government and that ought not to be free money. Investment should in the form of community shares and a direct return for the public authorities and the communities most affected by these developments.”

“Of course we want consumer benefit and GB energy promises lower bills are round. But I come from the Western Isles which is some of the highest fuel poverty figures in the UK. The case for a lower island tariff explains itself.”

 “The third thing we want is community involvement. Community wind farms in the Western Isles and elsewhere, provide a massive bounty in proportion to the private wind farms which already exist and what is promised from future private developments. 

“We want to make sure that in this transmission grid that we are funding we are building across across the whole UK has to be reserved space for community-owned wind farms to provide that bounty back to them to their own districts and provide power to the grid.”

The Labour candidate met with both power industry representatives and senior Labour shadow cabinet figures over the weekend to press home the need for community involvement in each step of the energy transiition.

Mr Crichton added: “We are all going to be involved in this national mission in the midst of a global crisis. People don't mind seeing power going past their houses but they do object to profit going past when they don't have a share. We have to give everyone a share in our future.”