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The truths they don't want you to read....

Monday, March 17, 2008

What Jim Mather is saying....

The vast renewable energy resource in the Western lsles must be properly harnessed, Jim Mather said today.

The Energy Minister today announced a study to examine how to derive economic and community benefit from renewable energy developments, while respecting environmental obligations.

Speaking at the Comhairle's Energy Summit in Stornoway today, Mr Mather said:

"The Western Isles have a vast and enviable resource to develop renewable energy - from onshore wind to energy from wave and tide.

"There must be renewable energy development across the Isles if we are to ensure that the opportunities and benefits of a renewables revolution can be shared fairly across Scotland.

"At the same time, the Western Isles also enjoys an outstanding natural environment which is protected in places under European law. We must find a way to ensure developments proceed in harmony with environmental obligations.

"I can today announce that we are working with the Council to carry out a study of how renewable energy and other projects can deliver economic and community benefit to the Western Isles while remaining consistent with conservation obligations.

"We have asked the Comhairle, HIE, SNH and SEPA and other stakeholders to work with us and help conduct a study to be ready by the autumn.

"When completed, the study will set the stage for sustainable development to provide a base for economic, social and community renewal on the islands."

The key objectives of the study are:
  • To identify renewable energy potential, including the role of different scales of commercial and community-based wind farms and hydro schemes. It should seek to outline the extent, in scale and timescale, to which this potential can deliver economic and community development compatible with environmental obligations
  • And on a similar basis, to identify other opportunities for sustainable development initiatives at different scales which might contribute to delivering economic and community benefit compatible with environmental obligations
  • Produce a report and recommendations for action at a community rather than individual site level
This will help parallel work being done by the Comhairle on locational guidance for windfarms. The study will not consider individual planning applications nor site specific proposals.

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The original press release is available here.

Given the importance and relevance of the study that he has now commissioned, does this mean that no decision will be taken on the LWP scheme until the study is completed?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

It said: "The study will not consider individual planning applications nor site specific proposals". All the matters contained in the study should already have been considered in the planning application. Personally, I see no reason why a decision would have to be put off for a further 6 to 9 months. But I'm not the minister.

Silversprite said...

I'm a bit confused (maybe me thick?) on a few points:

a study of how renewable energy and other projects

Does this mean energy projects that are not renewables? Or non-energy projects? Related to this...

And on a similar basis, to identify other opportunities for sustainable development initiatives at different scales which might contribute to delivering economic and community benefit compatible with environmental obligations.

If that's not just confined to energy-related stuff (still unclear), then that's ... everything socio-economic connected with the Outer Hebrides. Which will make for a lot of study in 6 months.

On the energy front (renewables or not) I hope that:
- geothermal and ground source heat pumps
- solar
- photovoltaic
- properly insulating buildings
- tidal and wave
...all get due consideration. The way that the UK energy "debate" has been absurdly simplified to a binary windfarm or nuclear option over the last few years is depressing.

If they're going beyond energy in terms of sustainable stuff, then study of the net-based economy especially is very much overdue. Apart from a few shining exceptions (mainly in smoked salmon, lamb and black pudding), Outer Hebrides businesses are generally selling online and "exporting" (over the Minch) only a fraction of what they could and should. There's a massive untapped potential which would lead to lots of local jobs.

Add to that the knowledge economy, teleworking, and emerging digital industries, in which many of the 16 to 24 year old Outer Hebrides generation are acquiring skills at college and university. My client in California doesn't give a damn where I live, so long as I get the work (online) done; so why not live and work in the Outer Hebrides...

Angus said...

It is all very vague - and I suspect deliberately so to give the Minister and the Government maximum wiggle room.

Anonymous said...

This minority government will not make any contentious decisions until they have a majority. So my money is on a 2010 election (after Salmon0 has found a fight with Westminster that he can win and unite the Clans). Then to finance his budget based on Independance and no hand outs from South of the Border he will plant turbines from The Butt of Lewis to Berwick.

By the way Angus last Monday you published a nice shiny cup glotting over a rubbish game of rugby where is it now covered in pasta? How about a picture of a half share in a wooden spoon.

Anonymous said...

where you there Angus?

Any backroom gossip?