A two hour long meeting between Scottish Government officials and members of the community in An Talla this week failed to allay fears of possible “devastating on-shore work” on Tiree during the off-shore windfarm project.
Three officials from Marine Scotland, a Government body, explained to the meeting the steps leading up to the planning and licensing stages. Mr Phil Gilmour revealed that the off-shore and the on-shore parts of the plan will be split when it comes to the applications. When asked about the possibility of the massive electricity sub-station being sited on the island instead of out at sea, which is a more expensive option, he said that only the off-shore scenario was in his remit, and planning consent would have to be granted by Argyll council.
In reply to questions from members of the community at the meeting he said that even if the council planning committee refused the application it could be passed to the Scottish Government who could overrule the decision. He said:
“The decision could be overturned by the appropriate Minister.”
Planning permission for a possible converter and other onshore operation and maintenance facilities would only come up AFTER the off-shore licence had been granted. When asked if he thought it likely that planning permission would, thereafter, be refused by the council Mr Gilmour repeated a lengthy explanation of how both parts of the work were separate.
Mr Mark Christie, one of the Marine Scotland team, said that there would be “significant onshore impact” on Tiree from the windfarm project. Mr Gilmour said that the legal procedures involved in the process leading up to off shore wind farms were still evolving and that he and his team were ahead of other countries and that he had been abroad to address European countries on the Scottish model.
Many people left the meeting at its close expressing disappointment. They said they had learned nothing new and felt that they had been given only verbal promises that proper consultation between SPR and the community would be honoured in future. Ex-councillor Ian Gillies said:
“I am more fearful now than I was at the beginning of the meeting for a transparent approach by SPR.”
Another local resident said:
“In my opinion, what we experienced tonight was a ‘snow job’. What we are facing is months if not years of devastating industrialisation of our island and nobody will tell us what exactly to expect.”
Mr Robert Trythall, who spearheads the No-Tiree-Array campaign against the siting of the proposed wind farm asked why the proposed development was named Argyll Array, instead of Tiree Array, which would be more meaningful and alert people from elsewhere to the possible destruction of such a beautiful island. Mr Gilmour said it was up to Scottish Power to name their own project, and he agreed to ask if the name could be changed, but gave the impression it would be a waste of time.
A public information day is being held by Scottish Power Renewables in An Talla on Monday, July 28, at which officials of the power company are expected to produce visuals of the impact of the windfarm on the sea and landscapes of Tiree.