SNP Group Leader at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Cllr Gordon Murray, has hit out at comments made by Council Leader Roddie Mackay that analysis of community benefit from windfarms is not a matter for the council.
In response to a question by SNP Cllr Calum MacMillan at a recent Comhairle meeting, Cllr Roddie Mackay is reported to have said that it is up to communities themselves and not the Comhairle to determine whether independent analysis of any offer is required.
Cllr Murray said the response was hugely disappointing and showed a level of naivety of the situation currently facing communities.
He said: “To set this issue in a Planning context alone as he has tried to do, underplays the impact that these developments will have on the environmental, social and economic fabric of our Islands.
“How will the Comhairle and its Partners facilitate social inclusion - especially for those people and communities that are going to be left behind?
“Is Mr Mackay happy that many Islanders will continue to experience fuel poverty and no community benefit from these developments?
“Why does he fail to recognise that the failure to come up with a Strategy for such developments when these proposals first came to light, is indeed something that Islanders should expect from its Leadership?
“Community Councils and Trusts are made up of hard-working volunteers who give up their free time working for their localities. They usually have little or no resources to undertake independent analyses. They certainty shouldn’t have to come up with an Islands Strategy. If the Stornoway Trust or crofters are undertaking such an exercise for the land that they manage on behalf of residents, then this is not being shared with communities.
“The Comhairle is meant to be exercising democratic and community leadership. It is the key strategic body for these Islands and employs researchers, economic advisors, lawyers and other specialists. To say that the Developers should or could fund an ‘independent’ assessment on behalf of communities that sets out the economic and social benefits for all, shows a level of naivety that is quite staggering.
“It is sad to see the Leader and his Chairs’ Group dancing to the multinational tune. Who has what here and who wants what?
“Shouldn’t the Comhairle, working with the Trust, Crofters and not forgetting the communities who will have to live with these turbines on their doorsteps, be in the driving seat?
“It is sad to see the Leader and his Chairs just shrugging their shoulders.”