The challenge

With turbine technology moving on at pace, Uisenis Power Limited (a subsidiary of Eurowind Energy Ltd) was keen to redesign Uisenis Wind Farm on the Isle of Lewis.  The site was previously known as the Muaitheabhal Wind Farm, on the Eishken Estate, and had received planning consent, but not yet been constructed.  By using the latest turbine technology, Uisenis Power Limited would be able to generate the optimum levels of energy with fewer turbines.

Social was appointed to deliver the public consultation for the wind farm, delivering two rounds of stakeholder and community engagement between October 2022 and April 2023.

Key requirements

  • Carry out community consultation and engagement with local communities in the Outer Hebrides to gather feedback on the wind farm proposals.
  • Overcome challenges in engaging with a remote island community and ensuring opportunities for engagement were maximised and well-promoted.
  • Secure and facilitate drop-in exhibition sessions for stakeholders and the public to attend and ask the project team questions about the proposals.
  • Develop exhibition collateral and promotional material for the drop-in sessions.
  • Coordinate a media campaign to promote the consultation and organise interview opportunities for members of the Eurowind team with local radio and newspapers.
  • Deliver digital promotion for the consultations through social media groups as well as creating online feedback forms.

Our solution

Social delivered two rounds of public consultation for the client, organising and facilitating public exhibitions to allow the public the opportunity to give feedback on the Uisenis proposals. We held 3 drop-ins for the first round and 4 drop-ins for the second round in venues located around the site, whilst promoting the events through the media and social media.

We had to navigate a number of challenges that came with promoting the consultation in what is a remote island community. To counteract this, we were conscious of ensuring event locations were as accessible as possible for residents, as well as developing concise and readable materials that were translated in both English and Scottish Gaelic. The Outer Hebrides has a high proportion of Scottish Gaelic speakers, so Social enlisted the support of a local translator to help the project team meet our aims of facilitating conversations with local people through accessible means.

The proposal has received positive feedback from residents and community organisations, which continues to shape the 25-turbine proposal. The proposed Uisenis Wind Farm will provide a community benefit fund of around £900,000 per year over the 40-year proposed operational period.

Social also supported the client in promoting the accompanying supply chain and community benefit opportunities for the local community. At the same time as the second round of public consultation, Eurowind Energy launched their local supplier scheme for the wind farm proposal which involves opportunities at the construction and maintenance phases of the delivery of the wind farm, which is due to be operational by 2030.

Key outputs

  • Leaflet distribution to households across the Outer Hebrides, translated in both English and Gaelic on double-sides.
  • Inviting households and stakeholders to attend the public exhibition events to provide feedback on the proposals, as well as providing an opportunity to give feedback digitally through an online feedback form.
  • Promoting the consultation through local media outlets and social media with particular focus on building positive relations with islanders.
  • Ensure that the promotion and delivery of the consultation was as accessible as possible through venue selection, translation of materials and providing diverse methods for the public to give feedback.
  • Supporting the client to facilitate conversations with community and interest groups.
  • Successfully delivering meaningful consultation with the public over a 6-month period.

Our results

The exhibitions received positive turnout with a high response rate. Eurowind have managed to develop positive relationships with local groups and suppliers through meaningful consultation and providing communities with opportunities to get involved in the delivery of the scheme, through community benefit funds and employment opportunities.