Local News for Wednesday 2nd May 2018

Lewis Wind Power plans ‘mega-turbines’
Energy firms EDF and Wood are exploring potential changes to the consented 180MW Stornoway and 160MW Uisenis wind farms in the Western Isles. The Lewis Wind Power partners are considering either larger turbines within existing parameters or a fresh planning application for taller machines in a revised layout. The changes might increase the chances of consent in the UK Contracts for Difference auction in spring 2019. If the change in design is chosen, tip heights at Uisenis could go to 200 metres from 150 metres, while the Stornoway dimensions would increase to 187 metres from 145 metres. Lewis Wind Power announced their intention on Monday, as they met with representatives from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Scottish Government. They said they were "in the very early stages” and might have to seek fresh planning consent for larger turbines and a revised layout. The news has been met with outrage by some, who have been comparing the height of the turbines to those built in the North Sea – far higher than any structures that exist on land in Scotland. Blogger Katie Laing, who writes as ‘Hebrides Writer’, says there are no onshore turbines of this magnitude anywhere in the UK. She quoted Calum Macdonald, developer of Point and Sandwick Trust's Beinn Ghrideag scheme, who said: "The proposed new turbines are the same size as the gigantic offshore turbines that are now being built in the North Sea. They are out to sea for a good reason which is that their enormous size is thought to make them unacceptable anywhere onshore, far less near a town like Stornoway or near an iconic location like Loch Seaforth. If EDF and the Council are giving any serious consideration to this new scheme, the first thing they should be doing is not talking to SNH and SEPA but talking to the crofters whose land it is."

HebCelt adds ‘final piece’ to line-up
Lewis singer-songwriter Colin Macleod has been added to the HebCelt line-up for this July, adding what was described as ‘the final piece to an amazing line-up.” It’s a landmark year for crofter Colin, who releases his debut album ‘Bloodlines’ on 18th May. In October, he will also perform at BluesFest in London and Dublin alongside music legends Van Morrison and Robert Plant. Before these performances he has also been booked to appear on James Corden’s Late Late Show, which has previously featured acts such as Stevie Wonder, Adele and Ed Sheeran. HebCelt director Caroline Maclennan said: “This is such a massive year for Colin and his growing band of fans will be thrilled he will be on the festival stage.”

Gaelic football cup comp kicks off
This year’s Gaelic junior football competition kicked off yesterday, with first round matches being contested by 78 teams across 38 schools, 33 teams from the Western Isles. Cuach na Cloinne is a football competition for P4-7 pupils going through Gaelic medium education. Regional competitions will be held in Lewis, South Uist, Skye, Inverness, Oban and Glasgow with the successful teams meeting at the national finals in Inverness on 29th May. Comunn na Gàidhlig organises the competition which will be the biggest ever this year, with 500 young people taking part sponsors are Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Comhairle nan Eilean and The Highland Council. Western Isles Councillor John A Maciver said: “It is important that children going through Gaelic medium education are provided with opportunities to use their language outwith the classroom and also to meet with Gaelic-speaking children from other areas. This reinforces to them that the language is not only used in their own communities but in communities the length and breadth of Scotland.