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Meeting fails to allay fears

Tiree Array (artists impression)

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.

ARGYLL ARRAY PROJECT UPDATE No 8 – May 2011

Scottish Power Renewables logo

Masterplanning

The application to Marine Scotland from ScottishPower Renewables for planning permission for the Argyll Array will deal with the plans for the offshore infrastructure and the grid connection to Dalmally. (See Update No 7) However, there are four possible ways the project could be operated and maintained. Each of these scenarios would have different implications (positive and negative) for Tiree.

As many have said over the last year or so, there’s a need to fully identify and plan for these implications. Such planning would help Tiree to fully understand the full implications of the Argyll Array. Argyll and Bute Council and the Scottish Government also need to understand the possible implications because these may have effects on public services like education, health, transport and water. The wind farm, if consented, won’t be fully operational until about 2020.

Moreover, ScottishPower Renewables would not be able to confirm which operations and maintenance scenario is viable for the project until after any consent decision. However, it is recognised that planning for the various possible scenarios needs to start now. A number of organisations, including the Tiree Community Development Trust and ScottishPower Renewables, have therefore got together to begin this process, called ‘Masterplanning’.

A Steering Group has been formed to oversee and guide the process, which will be implemented by consultants working under contract to Argyll and Bute Council. These consultants will be required to consult closely with everyone on Tiree who’s got a stake in the development in order to gather views on the full range of possible impacts. It is anticipated that the consultants will be appointed at the end of June, and they will be expected to start work on the study immediately. The Steering Group is made up of: Argyll and Bute Council, Tiree Community Development Trust, ScottishPower Renewables, Marine Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, The Crown Estate, Scottish Natural Heritage and CMAL. (CMAL is Caledonian Maritime Assets, the company which owns the vessels, piers and ports used by CalMac.)

Wind farm Visit

We’ve agreed to a request by Tiree Development Trust to postpone this month’s planned visit to North West England to view offshore wind farms in the Irish Sea. This trip will now take place after the summer.

Thank you to all the people who responded to my invitation to express an interest in going on the trip. Those people will be contacted again over the summer, as plans for the trip are finalised. Full details of the visit itself will be in An Tirisdeach after our return.

Careers Workshop

One of the most frequent points of discussion about the project is the possible impact on job prospects were the Argyll Array to be given planning permission and then proceed to construction and operation. There are obviously no hard and fast proposals in place yet; indeed the Masterplanning process is only just beginning. However, to give some general information on this subject, we will be holding a Careers Workshop on Tiree immediately after the summer holiday.

It will be useful for a wide range of people – those at the very start of career planning, but also those at the start of their working lives and those in mid career. It will hopefully be of interest to people planning future study, people planning to stay on Tiree to work or those hoping to return home.

It will outline the kinds of skills needed for those involved in building and running a large offshore wind farm. We hope to be able to discuss the whole range of skills-professional, technical, administrative, trade and manual. We also hope to put this in the context of the approximate time-scales for the development of the project if it goes ahead. We will not, however, be able to indicate how many specific jobs will be created on Tiree in the event of the project going ahead, as this is not yet known.

The purpose of the event is to give a general overview of career opportunities in offshore wind and to enable those looking to the future to be able to include offshore wind farm work in their options. This is intended to be the first of a series of information events in Tiree about offshore wind farms in general and the rest will get underway in the autumn of this year. Meanwhile details of the date and venue of the Careers event will be in one of the summer Updates.

Future updates

· More on the Masterplanning process

Questions or comments

If anyone has any questions or comments on any of the above, or indeed any aspect of the project, please contact me at –

Donnie Campbell, ScottishPower Renewables Community Liaison Officer, Machair, Kilmoluaig in the first instance.

My land line telephone number is 220 352, mobile number 07881 983 753 and email donnie@argyllarray.com

ARGYLL ARRAY PROJECT UPDATE No.6-APRIL 2011

Scottish Power Renewables logo

Community Information Day

The ScottishPower Renewables Community information Day will be held on Tuesday 28th June in An Talla. The Project Team will be available to give information and hear your views between 2.00pm and 6.30pm with refreshments available.

The Project Team will be joined by a number of specialists from Scottish Power Renewables who will be able to give some background on their particular areas of responsibility.

The first photomontages showing what the wind farm could look like from various points on the island will also be available on the day and will be left for public display on the island. More details about the Information Day will be available closer to the time.

Website Update

A major update to our Argyll Array website is coming soon.

This will carry all the updates that appear in An Tirisdeach but will also be able to carry items that are too detailed or too big for the newsletter. It will enable anyone wanting background to the project or the latest news to access it 24 hours a day, from anywhere in the world. The website address is www.argyllarray.com

An Tirisdeach will still be where all the latest news is published first but the website will be a useful addition to that.

Unfortunately, not everyone on Tiree has access to the internet so if anyone would wish paper copies of the website updates, please contact Donnie Campbell.

Marine Scotland

  • Marine Scotland has been referred to many times since the Project was announced but many are still not sure what the organisation is or what it has to do with the Project.
  • Marine Scotland is a new department of the Scottish Government, set up two years ago. It was made up from a number of smaller bodies with responsibility for the sea and brings them all together under the one department. Many marine matters have effects on each other, such as fishing, the environment, oil and gas developments and wind, wave or tidal power. Marine Scotland was created as the single body that understands all these matters and which can plan and oversee the way Scotland’s seas are used.
  • It resulted from a combination of the government Marine Department, the Fisheries Research Services and the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency. An important part of Marine Scotland’s work is Fishery Protection and it has three ocean-going protection vessels and two aircraft for this job. One of its offices is in Cameron House in Oban and its vessels and aircraft can be seen regularly around Tiree.
  • Another important part of its work is giving permission for wind farm developments. It deals with planning matters at sea, while Argyll and Bute Council Planning Department deals with developments on land.
  • Marine Scotland looked at the Argyll Array project when it drew up the national plan for wind power developments which was published a few months ago. As part of the consultation on that plan, officials visited Tiree twice over last autumn and winter to gather people’s views. (Read more about this national plan on our updated website.)
  • Officials from Marine Scotland will consider the full planning application for the Argyll Array when it is submitted in 2012 and are likely to take a year or so to decide on the application after receiving it. They will either refuse it, grant it as it stands or grant it with conditions attached.
  • There will be a link from our website to the relevant part of Marine Scotland’s website

Met Mast

ScottishPower Renewables is seeking to erect an onshore meteorological mast to measure wind speed.

The type of mast would be similar to the one erected before the community wind turbine was built. It would be just over 70m in height and would be expected to be in place for up to five years. ScottishPower Renewables is in the process of identifying technically appropriate sites, and will contact owners/occupiers soon.

As well as an agreement with the occupier, ScottishPower Renewables will have to apply for planning permission to Argyll and Bute Council. Further details of the proposed mast will be available then. If permission is granted for the mast, tenders can then be issued for its construction and maintenance.

It is hoped that the mast will be in place by the end of the year.

Thank you

Morna Cannon, Assistant Project Manager, visited Tiree earlier in the month for a formal meeting but also took the opportunity to meet a number of people informally over the two days, to discuss the project and hear people’s views.

Thank you to all who took the time to speak with her and for their kind welcome and hospitality.

Future Updates

  • More information on the wind farm planning permission process
  • Information on a planned offshore wind farm visit
  • Information on a Careers Workshop to be held soon
  • An update on the appointment of an Environmental Impact Assessment consultant

Questions or comments

If anyone has any questions or comments on any of the above, or indeed any aspect of the project, please contact Donnie Campbell, Machair, Kilmoluaig in the first instance. Donnie’s land line telephone number is 220 352, mobile number 07881 983 753 and email donnie{@}argyllarray.com

New Home Insulation Scheme for Tiree

insulation

Home Energy Assessors Alun Jones and Frances Woodhead are visiting every home on Tiree to make sure that every house that is entitled to free insulation measures is identified. They have been contracted on behalf of Argyll and Bute Council and the Scottish Government, working with the Energy Saving Trust.

The Home Insulation Scheme is a new scheme for the Argyll Islands providing an energy audit, a home energy report and energy efficiency advice and is available to people who own their own home or rent privately.

Measures identified will be completed in a cluster basis to reduce the costs of getting installers to visit the islands. The visit will involve a short questionnaire which will allow referrals to be made to Miller Pattison who have the contract to undertake the insulation work. They will also be able to make referrals to the Energy Assistance Package that provides additional measures dependent on circumstances.

Even if your house is not suitable for the basic loft or cavity wall insulation being offered or has already been upgraded, the information collected will help to make a case for insulation upgrades that suit more Tiree homes. Energy monitors for loan, and other energy saving giveaways will also be on offer.

We hope that Tiree will get behind the scheme and that the visit will be of value to you. Houses listed for a visit will have received more information in a letter addressed ‘to the occupier’. The questionnaire can also be competed over the phone by calling the Energy Saving Trust on
0800 512012.

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

Tiree Wind Turbine Update

Many thanks to all the Tiree Community who have been supportive and understanding during the recent road
works from Scarinish to the turbine site at Ruaig. Agrimarine are working well and hope to complete all works
by the 30th. They also hope to carry out some of the more disruptive works during the hours of darkness when there should be less traffic on the road. This is likely to be the areas between the Pier Road end and Tullymet and the Salum road end to the site at Ruaig. Once we know specific times of the works we will ensure that this information is prominently displayed in the usual shops and business premises.
We can now confirm that the turbine components and crane will arrive by Calmac chartered ferry on Saturday
7th November. It is likely that the longest delays will be caused to Caolis bound traffic moving in the same direction as the crane trailer en route to the site. Once we have the travel schedule from the haulier we will again ensure that this information is prominently displayed as before in order that you can plan your journey accordingly.
If you require any further information regarding the project, please get in touch with Liz at the Trust Office:
01879 220074.

Community Wind Turbine Update

turbine_site_worksWork is progressing well at the Ruaig site. Stage 1 (Access Road and Crane Pad) has been successfully completed by Agrimarine.

Stage 2 (Foundation Base) is now in progress. In simple terms, this stage consists of digging out a large hole, fabricating a metal frame, and pouring a large amount of concrete. The end result, after two or three weeks to set, is a large circular base on which the turbine will be bolted. It’s obviously a lot more technical than that and the team from Raymond Brown Construction, assisted by I A Mackinnon Haulage/Plant Hire, are working very professionally at the site to complete stage 2 on time.

In the coming few weeks a long articulated vehicle will come to the island to carry out a trial run up from Gott Pier to the Ruaig site. This will help to specifically define areas where road works are required to allow the vehicles carrying the turbine and crane to reach the site. Hopefully, all going to plan, the turbine and crane will arrive on the island around the middle of October. When the turbine and crane arrive on island there will be unavoidable disruption and delay on the roads from the pier to the site. Once dates are confirmed we will be able to give a more detailed time schedule to all.

Hopefully this information provides a general update and we apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused. If you have any concerns or wish more details regarding any stage of the process please get in touch with Liz at the Trust Office 01879 220074 or any of the Tiree Renewable Energy Company Ltd Directors.

Community Turbine Works Progress

turbine_siteAnyone passing by the turbine site at Ruaig could not fail to have noticed the seemingly never ending activity at the site.
The contractors men have been working tirelessly, in all weathers, over the last couple of weeks and the access road and crane pad are nearing completion. The next phase following immediately will be the construction of the turbine foundation base. This is simply a round concrete plinth about 17 metres in diameter upon which the turbine will be erected.
After the turbine is erected the foundation and the crane pad will be covered over and tidied up. The TREL Board wish to thank the community for their patience during the transportation of the aggregate to the site.
There will be some further movements of heavy vehicles delivering foundation materials but hopefully not to the same degree as before. Nevertheless we apologise if this causes any inconvenience. We will keep you advised of how things are progressing.

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