Although not all the comments received by Highland Council have yet been posted on the ePlanning website, with the end of the public consultation period last Friday (4th October) most are now published for all to see. And what a result! It’s clear that among the residents of the community the support for the turbine appears much stronger now than it was when the community ballot took place in 2010! In the 2010 ballot, 69% of residents who voted were in support of the project, but of those 111 Coigach residents who expressed their opinion on the ePlanning site in the past few weeks, 88% have given the project a solid thumbs up with only 12% against. Assuming both are representative results, it shows a 27.5% growth in what was already strong support for the project among local residents.
Although it’s a great result which augurs well for our planning application we can’t get away from the fact that it’s maybe a reflection of the hard realities that we’re facing in seeking community sustainability, for since the 2010 ballot we’ve suffered further setbacks – Summer Isles Foods, our biggest employer, relocating to Alness, Polbain Stores closing and the school roll declining even further to the point that it is now a one-teacher school.
Inevitably the public consultation drew comments from far and wide, many from people who have little if any direct connection with Coigach, but again on balance the comments were strongly in support of the project proceeding despite there being an organised campaign against the project and not a little misinformation.
We now look forward to the next stage in the process for our planning application and look forward to the day, hopefully, when our turbine starts turning and in doing its bit to turn our community’s fortunes around.
It’s been heartening to see the many statements of support on the Highland Council ePlanning website for the community turbine – mostly from local residents and also many of our ‘diaspora’ who were brought up here and still call it home, and many others who have long and strong associations with Coigach and are known by many here. Every one is a considered and balanced view, from people who see the proposal in the round, acknowledging that the benefits to the community far outweigh any impact a turbine may have for those who are set against them. Here’s a great example from the website from local schoolboy Joseph Peach – it’s a bit of a long read, but worth every word of it:
“I am writing to you to express my wholehearted support for the Achiltibuie’s community wind turbine planning bid, reference: 13/02582/FUL. Having spent my whole life in the village I, along with the majority of the local population understand the hardships of living in a small community and believe that the benefits of this wind turbine would do much to alleviate or lessen some of these difficulties. Along with the majority of the young adult population of Achiltibuie, I am soon going to leave the village to participate in higher education, but I know for a fact that like many others I do one day wish to return to Achiltibuie and settle. This is something which is becoming increasingly difficult to do though, due to a lack of jobs, opportunities and affordable housing. The sad fact is that Achiltibuie is becoming a place where locals are being priced out of the housing market, the school roll is dropping year on year and a place where young people are finding it impossible to either return or continue to live in Achiltibuie. I strongly believe that the proposed wind turbine would help to reverse the decline in the population of Achiltibuie. I have no doubt that the CCDC will be able to use its income to create affordable housing and business opportunities. In my opinion, the success of this wind turbine is vital to the future of my home. While there are opponents to this scheme, it is my opinion that its potential benefits greatly outweigh the possible negatives. While the wind turbine will make a visual change to Achiltibuie’s iconic landscape, I find it hard to believe that this change would have any impact at all on the local tourist industry. Since the Burradale wind farm in Shetland was erected in December 2000, the number of available tourist beds in Shetland increased from 1677 to 1777. While this is not a massive increase, I feel it exemplifies the point that any sort of wind turbine development does not necessarily equate to a decline in the tourist industry. There are also those who argue that the proposed development will spoil Achiltibuie’s “iconic landscape” or “beautiful scenery”. As a local I am hugely appreciative of my surroundings and feel privileged to be able to live amongst them, but I think that there needs to be an understanding of the fact that Achiltibuie is not just an image on a postcard, or an idyllic retreat. It is a living breathing place where locals work hard to make a living. To me it seems selfish and inconsiderate for anyone to bemoan the local population’s attempts to preserve their community and ensure its continuing existence on the argument of the visual impact of a 55 meter wind turbine. To put its “impact” into perspective it is worth noting that this 55 meter wind turbine will be located next to a 743 meter peak in a very small area of the 50 square miles that make up the Coigach peninsula. To conclude, I believe that this wind turbine is vital to the future health of my community. I one day wish to return to Achiltibuie and I am sure that the income from this turbine would help to make this feasible. I do not wish to see more local businesses close, young local people having to leave in search of opportunities or the school role declining any further than it already has. I hope that you’ll take this into consideration when making a decision on the planning application of Coigach Wind Power Ltd.”
What a great endorsement of our community project! Have you submitted a supporting comment yet? Please do by simply following the links on our previous post on this site…and if you already have, then thank you!
Coigach Wind Power Ltd, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Coigach Community Development Company, is delighted to announce that the planning application for the long-awaited, single community wind-turbine has now been validated (checked for completeness and planning fee paid) and it will be formally advertised on Friday 6th September in the Ross-shire Journal and Edinburgh Gazette.
Chair of Coigach Wind Power Ltd is Alison Sinclair and the other directors are Kevin Peach, Steve Husband, Anne Macleod and Iain Muir.
This is the culmination of many years of research, consultation with both the community at large and bodies such as Scottish Natural Heritage and landowners Scottish Wildlife Trust, an independent Feasibility Study and full Environmental Impact Assessment.
A Highland Council run ballot of local residents showed strong local support for taking the wind turbine community project forward.
For more information about the project, the planning process and how you can give your support to it, please follow this link to the Coigach Wind Power Ltd website (or click the link on the sidebar to the right of your screen).
Click on the link above to have a read of our
And of course since this was written, there was big news for Coigach at the weekend (13th July 2013) when our local coastal rowing team won the Skiff World Championships in Ullapool! The rowers make up about 10% of the population of Coigach so it’s big news in our tiny community with just about everyone involved in some way or another.
CCDC is delighted to welcome Kati, our Third Sector Intern who is currently here working with us in Coigach on a renewables research project. The post is supported by Third Sector Internships Scotland and Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.
Kati is a second year student at Edinburgh University but hails from Finland. Fortunately the sun has been shining more or less since her arrival in early June and she has already met many of the locals, taken an oar in our coastal rowing boat, and climbed a few mountains! Last week she accompanied a small party on a study visit to Lewis which will help with her research for us. Kati says “I am really enjoying life in this fantastic part of the world and everyone is so friendly!”
COIGACH COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COMPANY
Achiltibuie Business Development Officer
Part Time Position – 19 hours per week
Salary up to £24,480 — pro rata; up to 2 years funding available
Closing date for applications: 12 Noon 10 June 2013
Coigach Community Development Company (CCDC) is seeking to appoint an energetic and self motivated person to drive forward the development of the community owned Achiltibuie Smokehouse property to deliver a real benefit for our community. Working with a number of partners, professionals and contractors you will have excellent organisational and communication skills, and good written English. The work involves working with the local community to assist with the stimulation and evaluation of project ideas; to undertake research on the proposed project ideas; and to participate in planning and development of the smokehouse property with the project management committee and/or project manager.
Experience of securing funding would be desirable. 19 hours per week, some evening and weekend working, some travel to external training courses, seminars or study visits will be required.
The creation of a modern business premises and establishment of one or more new businesses is the expected
project outcome. Job creation, re-employment of former smokehouse staff, and the creation of a popular tourist attraction could make a significant contribution towards the socio-economic wellbeing of Coigach.
Place of work: Achiltibuie Smokehouse property in Altandhu (and some home working). For details of the post please contact Julia Campbell by email (email@example.com) or phone 01854 622379 – or to help make our recruitment greener, please visit: click on the links below to view all details.
The post is funded by the Scottish Land Fund
COIGACH COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COMPANY
Local Development Officer
Part Time Position – 19 hours per week (job share)
Salary: £24,480 pro rata to December 2013
(Dependant on funding, post may continue past December)
CLOSING DATE FOR APPLICATIONS – 12 Noon Monday 10 June 2013
Coigach Community Development Company (CCDC) is looking for an energetic and self-motivated individual to take forward a range of community projects as part of a Highlands and Islands Enterprise initiative Growth at the Edge/Fas aig an Oir.
The CCDC has been part of Growth at the Edge/Fas aig an Oir project since 2010. During this time CCDC has developed the Coigach Community Growth Plan which outlines the main issues, concerns and opportunities identified by local people and sets out the projects and results residents want delivered over the coming years. The successful candidate will assist CCDC and the community to take forward a range of projects and implement the Coigach Community Growth Plan, enhancing the socio-economic, cultural and environmental welfare of the local area.
For a detailed job description/person specification, please click on the links below or contact Julia Campbell by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 01854 622 379.
The above post will be funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Highland LEADER until December 2013 with potential for continuation if further funding is secured.