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16 October 2014

Arnish Lighthouse

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Yesterday's Stornoway Gazette carried adverts for about 15 plots of land within Lewis and Harris which were available for building a house on. Recently, I spoke to someone who went house hunting in the island, and his experiences were an eye opener. It only reinforces my personal quote "You don't know what goes on behind closed doors". One house in Lewis had lain vacant for 14 years, after the previous occupant passed away at an advanced age. When my contact entered the property with a view to buy, he felt as if time had stood still - 70 years ago. Newspapers from the 1930s. The gentleman's hats and caps still in the place where he left them last time he touched them. Personal effects and papers, some probably of historical value, in chests and around the house. Because of the period of non-habitation, the condition of the property had deteriorated markedly, and the house would probably have to be gutted and reconstructed. Another property, on the other side of the island, had been abandoned 3 years previously. It too had suffered from neglect, but by the look of it, and according to local stories, the previous owners had been in the process of doing it up. Sadly, one of the couple died suddenly, and the other partner never came back.

Anyone who would be buying a plot of land in Lewis and Harris should be aware of the proposed windfarms on the island. Most media attention has been focused on the Barvas Moor project, which is bad enough - 234 turbines over 40 miles of moorland. The other windfarm, 133 turbines on the Eishken mountains, nearly got torpedoed by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar last summer. However, as things stand at the moment, both projects have been submitted to the Scottish Executive for approval or otherwise. Only one property on the list of 15 would not be directly affected by the turbines - at Bunabhainneadar, down the road from Ardhasaig in North Harris. The Eishken windfarm overlooks glorious Loch Seaforth, from Kinloch Seaforth to Aline, Scaladale, Maraig, Rhenigadale, Molinginish (...), Scalpay as well as Lemreway and Orinsay in South Lochs.
View down Loch Seaforth from Aline

I have written about this before on here, but I cannot imagine why some of the most glorious scenery stands to be desecrated by a windfarm. You may argue that you can't live off the view, but in actual fact, scenery is a contributary factor for the tourism industry in these islands.
Seaforth Head, 3½ miles southeast of Balallan
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 15:55


Fair enough if you don't like windmills. But are they going in these locations? Where does Lewis get its electricity from now? From somewhere else. Where does all the steel, concrete, cars and anything else come from? Lets have a nuclear power station in the same view, because that's safe isn't it. Drive down to Yorkshire and see the mass of coal fired power stations and they are producing electricity for you!

Take responsibility for your own pollution from not in my backyard

It would appear that Take responsibility (etc) is unfamiliar with the fact that community wind generation projects have been proposed instead of the massive project outlined above, which would relieve Yorkshire of the burden of coal-fired powerstations. A large percentage Scottish electricity is generated by nuclear energy, which is as unsafe as the next thing. Think of the waste disposal issue, which has still not been resolved.

Arnish Lighthouse from Stornoway

We aren't going to have to bury these windmills for the next million years for unlucky generations to find. Just because we can't see the danger and the radioactivity doesn't mean that what ever the technology, the dangers of messing around with the internal workings of the atom are going to be safe. I believe that Islands, like all communities should take more responsibility for their inputs and outputs. Local development of power sources and other resources is the way forward.

Nuclear threat from windy miller

So to sum up: we stop using coal, reduce gas and oil consumption and stop using nuclear power.

Anne from Mull

Hi Nuclear threat. As an islander I would love to take more responsibility for my inputs, but Edinburgh and Westminster spend most of their time preventing this. A house built here is supposed to import all the sand and aggregate used, instead of using sand from the beach or from the glacial morraines. I can't kill a sheep and sell the meat, make cheese because I can't pasteurise the milk, and soon I probably won't be able to do b & b because I'm on a private water supply. Back to the energy issue, the answer is too use less. It isn't between wind OR nuclear OR petrochemical, because it will be all of these, and other minorities too. Instead of counting personal CO2 emmissions, it might be more helpful to record watts used (or BTUs or horsepower, or whatever units make sense). Perhaps every house should have a gadget on the supply limiting the total amount that can go in at any time, so to turn the kettle on you might have to turn the tumble dryer off. And take a look at the environmental costs of making cement.

Nic from Coll

Take responsibility: the population of the Outer Hebrides is 26,000. Population of Yorkshire and Humberside is just over 5,000,000. That's 200 times as many people. So it makes sense to do the bulk of the power generating nearer to those 5,000,000 rather than the 26,000. Power is lost in great quantity in transmission. Generate it as near as possible to where it is needed. On a wider point; it is disappointing that the energy debate always degenerates to wind farm vs nuclear power. Both options are crap. We don't even need the extra power, if a range of economising and energy reduction measures were taken, to reduce power wastage.

Generate power where it's needed from What is the point of Yorkshire, anyway?

For those who wish to be responsible for their consumption of electricity they should reduce their consumption by the following amounts: if you don’t like nuclear power you should reduce your energy consumption by 37%, coal by 32.3%, oil and gas by 21%. (2001 figures).

Anne from Mull

You are absolutely right Arnish. There are plentry of Citys all over the country covered in other eyesores, it makes sense to keep them all together. a trubine on the roof of every building in London would be a start. The place is a hovel anyway and it's the people who live there who say they aren't eyesores.

Sunny from Definitely not in my back yard!

Who wants the wind farms on Lewis? Just those who don't care about the island and the impact that the turbines will, not might, have. Other people might be willing to sell the island and it's scenery to the mainlanders for a few quid but those who really care about the island and it's legacy will be the ones counting the cost.

Build your own wind farms from Very Definitely not in my backyard

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