What will Argyll Array do to Tiree

wind array

Over 150 people attended a public meeting on 15th June to discuss the likely impacts of the proposed offshore wind farm at Skerryvore. Tish MacKinnon, chair of the Tiree Community Development Trust, led the meeting and Lloyd Gudgeon, the Trust’s Manager, made a short presentation. Ralph Thornton and Morna Cannon from the developers Scottish Power Renewables were on hand to answer questions, as were Councillors Len Scoular and Donald McIntosh, along with several senior officials from the Planning Department, HIE, the Health Board and the Police.

The wind farm will be huge, costing £6 billion to build (at todays prices) and estimated to provide about 20% of Scotland’s electricity needs. The impact it will have on Tiree will also be huge, with an influx of people coming to work for the wind farm, new housing, much wider roads and bigger harbour and more jobs. It will also bring helicopters, noise and disruption to what has been up to now a peaceful place.

The meeting heard how plans to site between 300 and 500 giant wind turbines (some up to three times the height of Skerryvore) between the land and the lighthouse would require major structural alterations to the Island including a building the size of a football pitch to house the equipment to convert the electricity when it comes ashore and up to 4,000 square meters of office buildings. In answer to a question from a resident, Ralph Thornton admitted that there was no way the islanders could stop the wind farm from going ahead if consent is given by the Scottish Energy Minister.

Opinions of locals is divided, some feel that the development will bring only good to the island – upgrading to health, housing, education and policing and the potential creation of jobs and leisure amenities along with a possible community financial bonus being amongst the improvements on offer. Others feel that the necessary changes to the Island “will destroy our whole way of life, this will be the end of Tiree as we know it” and that “our gaelic culture will suffer and we will lose our peaceful existence. No doubt this scheme will be railroaded through in the guise of national necessity, no doubt some people will get very rich out of this construction at the expense of others”.
Andrew Montgomery, factor to the Duke of Argyll, told the meeting;
“ No one could, in their wildest dreams imagine the impact this development will make on Tiree. Argyll Estates has a duty of care for the people of Tiree and the island and having attended this meeting we now have serious concerns about the plans which will affect the way of life here”
One resident pointed out that “whether we want it or not if the wind farm goes ahead we must get a decent rate of return on our investment. Our whole way of life will change, and it must not be allowed to change for the worse .”

It was also revealed that two other off shore energy installations are being proposed for the seas around Tiree – one a wave power installation, the other a further wind turbine site. This could mean the contract workers and maintenance crews for all three sites could be based here, turning Tiree into a huge terminal for renewable energy possibly changing the very essence of Tiree beyond all recognition and repair.

The meeting finished with a renewed mandate being given to the Trust to continue working on behalf of the community to ensure we do not suffer unduly from this development, should it go ahead.

Background documents and links to relevant sites can be found on the Trusts website; www.tireetrust.org.uk

18 comments

  • I am at the moment sat in an Oil field in a village called Zillah in the Libyan Sahara

    During May I wandered around Ceann a’ Mhara enjoying the view and exploring the cliffs for possible rock climbing routes. I sat for quite a while and pondered over the view out towards Skerryvore. At the back of my mind was a niggling doubt that it would not always look as beautiful, I went as far as to try and visualise in my mind’s eye the aesthetic change to the horizon caused by a windfarm, all this as the Fulmars and Kittiwakes darted by…

    Mr. Montgomery so rightly notes; “No one could, in their wildest dreams imagine the impact this development will make on Tiree.”

    If the wind farm gets the thumbs up from the ‘bean counters’ make no mistake it will be the end of Tiree as we know it, there is no doubt about this point. There will be the transient workforce through the initial development stage, the maintenance and auxiliary staff throughout its entire life span, today’s people of Tiree may no longer be the majority of the populace. I see the situation globally with my work as an oil explorations HSE consultant; I see the empty wildernesses fill with tyre tracks, then I watch the drilling stage, the damage caused by oil field development, the production stages…

    I see how in most ‘developing nations’ the local economy changes
    little after the fields start to produce and the initial jobs dry up, I see the empty hulks and ground disturbance, the empty buildings as the oil men move out (much as the RAF did) and the pumps start to pump.

    Socio-economically the developments do not enhance the lives of the local people, in these ‘developing nations’. The local inhabitants rarely have the voice or the support to argue with the dollar sign for structured sustainability; rogue, junta, pseudo democratic, business run countries do not in general give a toss when the hard currency comes rolling in…They steamroller through the culture and leave nothing but sadness in their wake.

    We however do have the luxury of choice, and only one choice if the plans go ahead; we have the choice of being a part of the development, embracing the change, and ensuring that the planners think ahead and offer a sustainable future for our community and protect the link with at least the way Tiree is now…

    The idea of it all saddens me greatly, and I know it is the older members of the community that will be most affected by the rapid change. It does sadden me greatly that people will move here not by choice, but by way of seeking work and job placement…that is an opening for Tiree to become a more worldly effected, by way of noise, crowds,light polution and crime…

    My greatest fear of all is that we stand by ‘like so many rabbits caught in the headlights of change’ and let this all happen without making the project as beneficial as it can possibly be for Tiree, if it is not managed correctly on ‘our’ behalf this will be a very bad thing for us all.

    The impacts of this development will be to Tiree what Sullom Voe was to the people of the Shetlands, I think it is high time that we made contact with the people of Shetland(Shetland Islands Council?), and take onboard the hard lessons that they had to learn, warranted they also had the possibility of major oil pollution to contend with, but pollution especially social pollution comes in many forms.

    Our current needs are adequately and well catered for by our Tiree Community Development Trust, but to protect our interest and squeeze every last drop of benefit out of this project for the people of Tiree, we needs something more than our current Trust or we will be left high and dry by the bow wave of change.

    We don’t need simple appeasing handouts, we don’t need to be told what we are going to get, we need to tell the power brokers what we want & what the children, families and people of Tiree deserve, long term sustainability and as low as is reasonably possible environmental impact.

    Karl Hughes
    Bothan na Fear (formerly Osborne House) The Pier, Scarinish.

  • this is not island life, it will be the end of the magic of the island under the waves. life here is not meant to be like that…….

  • We can not protest against windpower. But we should protest gainst the absolute devastation of Tiree- benefits or no benefits.
    I am tiree resident also oil industry and have been to many noisy heliports and been involved in big construction projects.
    The only way forward to preserve Tiree as a lived in wilderness area is.
    1. Build the transformer / converter station offshore plus control system ofshore- run it like an offshore oil platform
    2. Helicopters from oban

    Wake up Tiree , forget the “extra places in the school bribes and jobs being nightwatchman or painting fences – that is what is on offer

    Otherwise no matter what “promises” are made that is the end of Tiree as a special place.
    We will just change into a giant offshore trerminal for ALL the 3 potential developments- argyll array plus T2 T3 areas for tidal and wind power proposed for beyond 2020
    Concrete , Steel Machinery- Noise lights people pollution – the end of the world as we know it

    Tiree does not need to be destroyed in order to buld wind power and increase profit for scottish renewable electric company

    I suggest write to all environmental aware celebrities eg David Attenborough even Prince Charlse even Alistair Campbell ex Blair PR as he has Tiree family links.

  • Hello people of Tiree.

    I’m writing from Wellington, New Zealand, but I trained in medicine in Glasgow, have cruised around the islands, and my name is Scottish. I love the islands and I am proud of my ancestry.

    What is proposed is bound to change Tiree for as long as wind-power is a significant supplier of electricity. My main concern would not only be that there is a visual pollution, which of course is unavoidable and will be really severe, but that this facility, being so close to Tiree (about 5 kms, which is not far at all) , will in fact be worryingly noisy 24/7/52, which would be much worse to endure. I think you should insist before it goes ahead that this aspect is thoroughly researched and meaningful guarantees are in place, with sufficiently severe and unavoidable penalties imposed as recompense to the islanders if they are not met. The location of this wind farm within such a short distance from the shore-line makes this proposal rather more serious for the residents of Tiree, than say the one proposed for Islay.

    Secondly, the value of electricity coming from this facility will approximately be 400 million pounds/annum, by my back of the envelope calculations . A 0.25% “toll” for the islanders in perpetuity, would provide one million pounds per annum. I would suggest that with such a toll the cost to the enterprise, the owners and the other users of electricity would be therefore minuscule. Such a “toll” would provide for free electricity in perpetuity for all 770 residents of the island and sufficient finances left over to subsidise say, a community facility with large, heated indoor swimming pool (heated by the renewable energy) and community centre, leisure and sports centre, theatre, , medical facilities, insulation of homes, etc, as the people of Tiree wish.

    The problem for the residents in Tiree is that these massively culturally changing decisions are being made elsewhere, in Spain (I understand that Scottish Renewables is only a 20% minor partner in this facility, that 80% of this investment comes from Iberdrola Renewables, a Spanish billion dollar earning corporation; so this isn’t even truly a “Scottish” investment) , London, Edinburgh, with no real reference to the affected citizens. In this you share the same fate as most other residents of Anglo-Saxon nations, where corporatist generation interests regularly ride roughshod over those of local communities with the approval of your elected politicians.

    In Denmark, Germany, Holland, Sweden etc. local communities become part-owners of the nearby windpower facilities, they have the pain but at least a share of the gain. In Anglo-Saxon nations, you have the pain, but no gain. I can tell you now that any move by you to ensure some real continuing financial gain from this enterprise will be absolutely and stubbornly resisted by the developers, and by your politicians, who supposedly represent you, but will be anxious instead, as they have over many years, to cravenly kowtow to commecial interests, just as in New Zealand. The greed of big corporations knows no bounds, and the yells of disbelief that ordinary people might get some sort of “privelege” from “their” investment will be deafening. Yet the figures I have provided show just how a trivial amount of these massive earnings, diverted to local communities, could have a profoundly beneficial effect for them, that might to some extent mitigate and compensate for all the major negative effects. . You should insist on nothing less, just as other communities affected by similar projects should also do so, you need to be trailblazers here. The promise of jobs in construction etc, is entirely peripheral, and should be treated as such, these are often low-paid and temporary and are never adequate recompense.

    Good luck to all of you. These proposals have already changed your lives. Be consistent, firm and united. Use all the publicity you can, using all those in positions of authority and renown, who love the Scottish islands for what they are, to help you meet your reasonable requests and to make these corporations look mean and despicable if they won’t accede to them.

    Regards and very best wishes from the other end of the Earth.

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  • Recent poll by VisitScotland shows approx 80% of Holiday makers to Scotland do not really care about windfarms spoiling the view.
    Approx 20% of visitors to Scotland would curtail a vist if a windfarm was on their doorstep.

    2 points….this poll was based on the 3’500 or so turbines now in place….not the thousands planned for the future.

    Of special note is that the 20% of visitors that would go else where can be assumed to be the seekers of wilderness areas….say80% of visitors to Tiree….best case scenario a down turn of 20%….worst case 80%…

    I leave others to view the poll and make up their own minds.
    However, in TCDT dealings with SPR one would hope they have taken this into consideration when looking at the fiscal sell out.

    Regards

    Karl

  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17871300

    All,

    The timing of this article echos an issue NTA have raised time and time again with SPR, NTA have again pre-empted a problem/affect that SPR do not give substance to either:how they either study it or address it…SPR blatantly will not answer our concerns.
    Given that the Tiree Array is going to envelop our island and given that we (Tiree) will be in the wind shadow of this powerstation I question not only SPR’s legality in affecting a proposed maritime SPA but now also possibly affecting our onshore SSSI’s and agriculture.

    This is again a huge issue that SPR and the supporting quango’s seem to not want to discuss with our community…and an issue that above all others can now be seen to affect our crofting community.

    Karl

  • Friday 13th 2013…

    Both on technical and environmental grounds SPR finally drop the Argyll aka Tiree Array.

    Given the incredible bio diversity within the now defunct Proposed area and the wealth of information gathered over nearly 3 and a half years; we would all do well to consolidate this knowledge and push ahead with a sustainable marine area….an MPA or marine park. many years ago it was bannded around that a marine park could be on the cards…this would not affect Tiree’s environmentally sustainable fishing industry…which is selective.

    It could however provide jobs for locals… via a visitors center and boat trips….we should seize the momentum, and push ahead.

    Regards and a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all

    karl

  • On reflection…

    If MPA was to affect our small sustainable fishing fleet…I would have to side with the fishermen…

    So no more campaigning for me…time to enjoy Tiree and have give my family a break from nearly 4 years continual campaigning.

    The end.

  • Karl

    “on reflection…”!!

    This makes me a tad angry to be honest, I corresponded with you via this forum, email and the NTA forum, before I was blackballed, about your approach to the Argyll Array and told you that if you and NTA got your own way then Tiree would be turned into a National Park and the Island would be locked down.

    You continued your fight, citing environmental effects, without considering the long-term effect this may have on Tiree and its residents. You constantly banged on about tourism etc, now finally, after all your campaigning, realise that the potential effect on the core industries on the Island might be a bit more serious!.

    Hindsight is an impossible gift, however listening to local opinions would have been easy. I hope NTA haven’t set the hares running for all our sakes.

    Lachie

  • Lachie…Happy New Year.

    The problem with this website (apart from lack of use) is there is no edit facility LOL

    Whats your gripe if I consolidate my stance…clarify my position…is this statement wrong in your eyes ? I suggest you talk with the fishermen they will put you staight on my views…

    You are well aware that MPA status or indeed marine park status, it’s been bandied around for over 10 years…it was a possibility prior to SPR ever coming to town..and has been going through process for 3 years… The reason MPA was suspended/delayed was that the Scottish Government and SPR wanted to investigate the feasibility of putting the array off Tiree…so please don’t misrepresent the facts…MPA has been on the cards for 10 yearsor more…verbatim.

    NOTE: NTA listened to local opinion…much of which came from the fishermen, they had the balls from day one to stand up and be counted…and say no to the array.

    Given the obvious reasoning behind most of the fishermen anti-array stance, and also the sustainable nature of Tiree’s fishing fleet…I would support any initiatives that stopped a “marine Park” affecting this important financial and cultural industry…QED

    In regards to your other point regarding tourism…what is your point ? Are you saying that with SPR’s decision to drop the array will be detrimental to island tourism that tourists will now decrease ? That makes no sense.The core industries of Crofting, Tourism and Fishing have not been affected by SPR’s decision…anybody who was relying on an etheral industrial project to provide future employment on Tiree, or income to Tiree was living in la’la land.

    Cast your mind back to the situation prior to SPR coming…that’s the situation we find ourselves in now…if you really think NTA and other objectors to the array have had a major impact on SPR’s decision to pull out then read their own statement again: “We believe it is possible to develop the Argyll Array site, it has the some of the best wind conditions of any offshore zone in the UK, However, it is our view that the Argyll Array project is not financially viable in the short term. As cost reductions continue to filter through the offshore wind industry, and as construction techniques and turbine technology continues to improve, we believe that the Argyll Array could become a viable project in the long term.”

    Their words not mine or NTA’s…the fact remains that the array was dropped for three reasons…Cost, Technology and Environmental…the last two of the three were raised at the very first community consultation by residents…I remember an SPR spokesman stating that “other than discovering some endangered species in the area the array would go ahead…” or words to that affect…well they did discover something, several things in fact.

    What pissesme off is the many millions that were wasted on investigating the site ? simply because SPR and the Scottish Government did not listen to local opinion (and this can also be related to the Kintyre and the Islay projects)

    Back to the fishermen…the way I see it (and this is my view entirely)…given the continuing and growing existence of such high important bio-diversity in the waters around Tiree…especially the Basking Sharks, Tiree’s fishing activities have never and will never cause impact to the detriment of the environment…it is a sustainable industry that I would hope to see increase.

    If the Scottish Government try to impact on the fishermen, or change their methodology I will side 100% with the fishermen’s stance… they are aware all aware of this fact.

    Reverting to my post “On reflection… If MPA was to affect our small sustainable fishing fleet…I would have to side with the fishermen…”

    FYI: I’m done with campaigning, focusing more on family matters and the Tiree Adventure park for the kids…but if the fishermen need an additional voice they only need to drop me a line.

    By the time any array raises its head again I will be pushing up daisies and it will be somebody elses fight.

    The end.

  • In response to Lachie Brown Jnr’s post 1st Feb

    ++

    You were not blackballed from the NTA forum. It was self –inflicted. Erroneously,you assumed the forum had open public access.You were requested to accept the forum’s posting guidelines which were clearly stated on the website. You only offered a qualified acceptance.

    I assume any content published on this website is subject to posting guidelines, alternatively moderator control and scrutiny.

    Re National Park Status: It is silly to offer the conclusion that in the event of Tiree being included in a National Park,that Tiree would be ‘locked down’. Where is the evidence to support your statement?

    NTA is unaware that Loch Lomond and Cairngorm have been‘locked down’.

    Two weeks ago I spent a week-end in Cairngorm. It was buzzing.

    With regard to ‘set the hares running’,I assume you are referring to Tiree’s possible MPA status within the Skye-Mull Search Area?

    I suggest you investigate the evolution,detail,and implications of MPA policy, to ensure that no Tiree myths emerge from your statement:- “I hope NTA haven’t set the hares running for all our sakes.”

    The ‘hares’ to which you refer were set in 2010 by Scottish Government.

    MPA status re fishing and renewables is permissive.

    Specifically Re Tiree:-

    Scottish Government’s MPA documentation defines Tiree’s fishing as ‘relatively low intensity’ ergo sustainable,ergo unlikely to be impacted by possible MPA status.

    The same documentation indicates possible MPA status posed NO prohibition to SPR’s plans to develop the Tiree Array.

    I trust this clarifies.

    Rgds

    Robert Trythall (C/man Secr NTA)

  • So Lachie Jn. There you have it…

    Its time to move on and look at what you and I and all of us can do to reverse the de-population of Tiree. The Array has come and gone like so many of these projects do…

    One thing is for sure Tiree is losing permanent Islanders at an alarming and increasing rate…this was the fact before SPR and is a fact now…

    In this modern world of fast transport and internet, mass media at the touch of a button etcetera … and just on the rebound of a huge depression…

    To keep the youth of Tiree on Tiree, to inspire more to stay, and more to move here; Tiree has to offer more than a few service sector jobs serving holiday home owners…or providing services for the 600 more so souls who live on Tiree …

    Crofting and Fishing whilst being at the heart and hopefully always will be the heart of Tiree’s community can only offer a certain number of jobs…in a world of cheques and balance there are simply not enough jobs in these sectors to go around.

    (The purchase of Macleod’s as a community shop is a rational idea for the existing community… but it does not add anything, it simply preserves what we already have. As for a community buy out of Tiree I am not sure how this would benefit all but a few ? There again I haven’t given it much thought)

    There is a certain critical population needed to sustain residents, we are way below this … the priority for Tiree in my humble opinion is to offer something new. To do this all members of the population need to be involved…moreover, all need to be motivated and committed…if they are not then the population will continue to fall and the remaining grow older…empty propertes will be bought up by weekend visitors, the high school will one day close…

    Tourism is the biggest growth sector in the Western Isles and one of the largest globally…

    See today’s link: http://www.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-islands-26125825
    Personally, I see tourism, and specifically water and wind sports as the obvious way to go.

    Tiree is a/the premier wind surfing/kite boarding venue in the UK … it has good winds, sun (well most of the time ?) swell and is stunningly beautiful. But it offers only limited accommodation and has a dire lack of services for visitors…plus it is seasonal.

    Thinking out loud, and subjectively; a community buy out and development of one of the two Hotels on the Island may make sense… especially if it is developed into a “Center of Excellence” for the sports it supports…this will cost a lot of money to develop 3 or 4 million as a guess…add a heated pool, a gym, a bar, a spar and accommodation expected by world travelers and you would have something that is viable 365 days a year… add on the events, tuition etc an d you have a cash cow…a unique facility in a perfect location….offering maybe 20 jobs, and a facility that in one way or another can be used by all

    The simple knock on effect would bring more to folk to Tiree, keep more folk on Tiree, and open the door to more new permanent Islanders.
    The question is would Tiree as a whole, as it is, want to embrace this hypothetical change? provision of new campsites, Toilets, parking, etcetera…vans on the machair…bars full of surfers…maybe a decent breakwater somewhere with moorings and a café, a slip and a boat maintenance workshop…the list could go on…there is always cash out there available from big business to invest if the idea is solid enough….if they get a return on their investment.

    If we do not open the doors big time and sell Tiree as a tourist destination…I for the life of me see what else is open to Tiree…

    I cannot see the situation improving… maybe we just have to accept that the island will continue to depopulate, maybe some want it this way (certainly not me or my family)…

    I would be interested to know who would be happy with a population of 550 and no high school ?

    Any ideas ?

  • This makes interesting reading from someone who was against the building of a new restaurant which i am delighted to hear has gone ahead .
    Will this type of facility not bring some well needed jobs to the island

  • neil/robert

    I assume your post is in response to mine re the Tiree Array.

    As my post was with regard to the Tiree Array I am at a total loss to understand any link between this planned restaurant and the Tiree Array

    For the record I am 200% in support of a new restaurant on Tiree.

    The developer is fully aware of my support.

    Tiree is in desperate need of an improvement to its tourist facilities.

    (1) My objections were to its location and design.

    (2) Some Tiree supporters of the Tiree Array objected to the proposed restaurant.

    Points (1)and (2)can be confirmed by accessing the relevant page on the A&B Council website

    Its construction will bring ‘jobs’ but,from memory, the plans shows ‘staff accommodation’. This may suggest that the intended staff may be itinerant Antipodeans, as tends to be the case in seasonal catering on the W.Coast.

    I trust this clarifies

    Robert Trythall

  • Correct me if I am wrong…but the resturant will go ahead ? in a manner that was suggested by the complaining parties…so whats your gripre ? The changes to access and alignment were the only issue…and that was addressed…the issue being the original access was on the bend…

    The corrective action was to change the access..and the alignment of the project…is this not why planning permissions are posted ???? to give those that think an alternative is sensible ?

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