The West Side Estate Group is an informal association of four community-owned Estates and one privately owned Estate on the West Side of Lewis. These Estates, from North to South, are Galson Estate, Barvas Estate, Dalmore Estate (privately owned), Carloway Estate and Great Bernera Community Development Trust (at pre-purchase stage).
The West Side Estate Group, and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have been pro-active in engaging with offshore wind developers who were successful in the recent Scotwind leasing round.
The closest areas included in the leasing round are referred to as N2 and N3 which are fairly distant from the islands plus N4 which is located only 5km offshore, broadly between Carloway and Barvas.
Whilst there is no requirement on these developers to engage with neighbouring communities, the proximity of N4 has led the West Side Estate Group and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to take a pro-active approach to ensure that the communities affected are widely consulted and informed of potential benefits in order to weigh up the pros and cons. The Memorandum of Understanding creates a framework for this engagement although it is not legally binding.
Mindful of the climate crisis and energy affordability pressures that are being experienced across the country, the West Side Estate Group recognises the need for initiatives to increase renewable energy generation, but not at any cost.
The option to develop ScotWind Area N4 was awarded by Crown Estate Scotland to Northland Power in January this year. The project is at an early stage and the developer has commenced environmental surveys of the area prior to submitting applications for Marine Licences and Section 36 (Electricity Act) consent in 2024/25. On this timeline, construction of the wind farm, potentially generating 840MW, could take place from 2027 with first electricity produced from 2029.
The Memorandum of Understanding does not confirm community support for the development of N4, rather it reflects a determination on the part of community leaders and the Comhairle to keep communities informed and secure maximum benefit from what could be an extremely large renewable energy development. The community will be able to comment on the detail of the project during the consenting phase which is expected in 2024/25.