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It is not a parochial exercise since, as so often happens, local issues reflect national ones in microcosm. Take the question of preparedness for the ScotWind licences which are due to be announced later this month.

Are we ready for them, in order to maximise economic benefits for Scotland? Or, instead of Scotland, read the Western Isles.  The question arises in various forms but one consistent theme is that unless the infrastructure is in place, the work will pass us by.

Three of the ScotWind licence areas are off the Western Isles; one of them is distinctive within the programme because it lies close to the west side of Lewis. The other two are in much deeper waters to the north and west.

Late last year, two Lewis companies which operate in the marine sector around the UK – Seatrek and GulfXStream – voiced frustration over the absence of  consultation about how the piers and harbours down the west side of the Outer Hebrides can be developed in order to ensure they can provide the services these developments will require.

They pointed out that for decades, the Crown Estate has been taking money out of these lochs for fish farm licences but none of it has gone back into developing harbour facilities in places like Breasclete, Carloway and Miavaig, all with the potential to service the offshore wind developments.

In response, the Western Isles Council – which is harbour authority for these places – said that there is plenty time. Once the licences are granted, there will be a gap of several years before it is known which bidders have succeeded in gaining subsidy under the Contract for Difference (CfD) scheme, so it will be towards the end of the decade before construction of these projects begins.

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