Barra Wind Turbine (Lease Negotiation)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 10th March 2011.

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Photo of Alasdair Allan Alasdair Allan Scottish National Party

6. To ask the Scottish Government what progress it is making in negotiating a lease with the community in Barra for their planned wind turbine at Gob Sgurabhal. (S3O-13263)

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

On 25 February 2011, Scottish Government officials issued a draft lease to the Gob Sgurabhal wind turbine project co-ordinator for consideration. I apologise for any mispronunciation of the Gaelic.

Photo of Alasdair Allan Alasdair Allan Scottish National Party

There was none that I heard. I warmly welcome the fact that an offer of a lease for the land has been made. Can the minister confirm that the department will continue to negotiate with the community to agree an appropriate rent that will allow community benefit to be derived from the project?

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

I commend the crofters on their initiative, but I advise members that having wind turbines on croft land is a relatively new approach to the use of such land, which meant that there was no off-the-peg lease to use and that some thought had to be given to the initiative. The initiative deals with issues of high energy costs and fits in with the Government’s overall policy on renewables.

Sales or leases by the Scottish Government are normally required to be advertised. We took time to consider that but, because of the potential for the community group, we deemed it acceptable under the public finance manual to proceed under private provisions, which is now happening. We will negotiate a fair and equitable rental value to allow this exciting project to provide financial benefits to the community, as well as to meet the Government’s requirements as landlord.

Photo of Jamie McGrigor Jamie McGrigor Conservative

Does the minister agree that the local Barra community should be commended for a project that will, I hope, produce a sustainable income for the community for many years to come and for many generations of Barra people?

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

I think that I have already said that. I add that I expect that there will be many more similar applications, once people see the success of the project and the enormous benefits that the approach can bring to very rural and peripheral areas.