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Stornoway Gazette 3-2-05:

Letter: Windfarms: A time to speak out in anger

I am a local Christian artist from Back. I grew up in Lewis and have lived here for most of my life. For the past 20 years I have painted an island, which has wonderfully inspired me. This has led to many of you owning one of my works. I am now so incensed that I feel I cannot remain with the silent majority any longer.

What angers me, you ask? My anger stems from the decision by the Comhairle, the Scottish Executive and the Stornoway Trust, to turn our beautiful, magnificent and stunning island home into the biggest windfarm in Europe.

Our island is special to us. We love it. I feel that it is a wonderful piece of the jigsaw of Godís creation. It has beautiful, endless horizons, and rugged, unspoilt moorlands. However, this could all end very soon as the spectre of great white monstrosities looms over us. Gigantic wind turbines.

I believe that the majority of Lewis and Harris people do not wish to see the arrival of these turbines. They will be visible on almost every horizon, and will be three times higher than the Butt of Lewis lighthouse.

What, indeed, would our ancestors have said? How can we so easily allow our councillors and the Stornoway Trust to sell our heritage and our unique island scenery in this way? It is a magnet to thousands of tourists each year. Not for much longer, if the aforementioned have their way.

Many of us are dependant on tourism. I would certainly not want my holiday destination to be a massive windfarm. In England there was a visitor centre set up at such a windfarm. It has now closed. No-one wanted to visit such a thing.
I am in favour of clean energy, but not at such a price. I would certainly be in favour of each village having one small turbine if this could generate enough cheap electricity for its households. The vast majority of us are not going to benefit at all from this venture.

Perhaps the Comhairle could settle this matter once and for all, and give the islanders a referendum. This is our island, after all.
Are our councillors too afraid to discover true public opinion? I therefore challenge those we have elected as our representatives to give us a channel. If not, they will probably one day feel the backlash and anger of an island cruelly and quietly led into the biggest money-driven and greed-grown venture that we have ever known.

Harris fought against the Lingerbay Quarry and won. Fight now! Let your voices be heard again, as there was when more than 2,000 of us wrote to the Scottish Executive voicing our feelings concerning this matter. People power overcame the odds in Ukraine. We can make a difference too.

God has gifted to us our islands. Let us be wise guardians of it and not allow manís greed to ruin it. As it is often said in Gaelic, ĎChan eil Dia na cadalí (God is not asleep).

Perhaps in closing this letter I could just remind our MP and MSP, who both support this project, just who elected them.
They are, are they not, supposed to represent us? I am not aware of either of them taking a significant part in this debate. They would do well not to blatantly disregard the views of the electorate in the run-up to this yearís possible election.

Upper Coll