Local News for Monday 20th August 2018

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has welcomed news that Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has submitted its ‘Needs Case’ for the proposed 600MW Western Isles Radial Connector to energy regulator, OFGEM.

Commenting on the news, Chairman of the Comhairle’s Sustainable Development Committee, Cllr Donald Crichton, said:

‘This is excellent news for the islands and represents the culmination of many years of hard work by the Comhairle and its partners to achieve network reinforcement for the Western Isles. If approved, the Radial Connector will open the way for the development of a transformative Renewable Energy industry in the Western Isles.

‘But we cannot be presumptuous – SSEN have made clear that, if Stornoway Wind Farm and Uisenis Wind Farm do not secure Contracts for Difference in next year’s Price Support Incentive Auction at present generation volumes, there will be no investment case for network reinforcement and the Radial Connector project will be cancelled.

Cllr Crichton concluded:

“We will continue to work with our partners in Government, regulation, electricity networks and industry to secure the Radial Connector project as the best outcome for our island communities”.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the Department for Work and Pensions shows that the introduction of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) has led to a huge increase in the number of allegedly unnecessary face-to-face assessments.

Earlier this year, the Scottish Green party successfully amended the Social Security (Scotland) Bill to do away with assessments of people’s health or disability in order to assess a claim for a devolved benefit, unless the information cannot be obtained through any other means. The measure was introduced by Greens Social Security spokesperson Alison Johnstone MSP and supported by all parties on a unanimous vote of the Parliament.

The FOI request demonstrates that under the old Disability Living Allowance (DLA) system, only 6% of applications required the applicant to undergo a medical assessment. Under PIP, the situation is almost completely reversed, with 80% of PIP applications requiring face-to-face assessment from a Health Professional working for a privatised assessment provider.

Alison Johnstone MSP, said:

"With cross-party support in place and now this new evidence to hand, we must fully implement the framework for assessments that have been put into the new devolved social security law. When the first applications to the new Scottish benefit are made, this could result in many thousands of Scots getting the support they deserve without undergoing these inaccurate, hurtful and often unnecessary assessments."

“Residents in the Uists are invited to attend an Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partnership community engagement event which will be held in at An Caladh, East Camp, Balivanich on Wednesday 22 August 2018 from 5.00pm-7.00pm. Light refreshments will be provided. The event aims to raise the Partnership’s profile by enabling focused discussions with members of the general public on the following subjects:
• The role of the Partnership

• Community Planning Partnership priorities

• Sustainable population

• Sustainable economy

• Quality of life and wellbeing

• North Uist & Benbecula Locality Plan.”