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Lewis windfarm application to be heard for third time  

A giant windfarm application on Lewis will come before Western Isles Council for the third time.

Councillors have twice approved the scheme and are set to do so again although the deadline for public objections is still open.

The size of the £120million Beinn Mhor scheme, at Eishken, was previously slashed by 80 machines, with now just 53 giant turbines being planned.

It means a corresponding cut in community compensation by tens of millions of pounds.

Included in the current proposal are six turbine sites which have been offered rent-free to the South Lochs community in addition to an estimated £350,000 annual community benefit.

Developer Nick Oppenheim of Beinn Mhor Power has submitted fresh environmental information and a draft of a formal planning agree- ment with the council which will be debated on Wednes-day.

It includes agreement of removing the turbines after 25 years, setting up a decommissioning bond in advance, purchasing at least 75% or £90million of supplies locally, and a deal on paying community benefit.

But planning officials have rejected Mr Oppenheim’s desire to measure the time limit from the date of final commissioning of the whole scheme. They say that is “unacceptable” because “there is no guarantee that the whole development is ever completed”.

A compromise of starting the clock from the first generation to the national grid is suggested.

Mr Oppenheim reckons that around 95 construction jobs will be created with just 10 staff needed for its operation.

Some 43 jobs could be secured at the Arnish yard on Lewis over two years if the towers were made there, and the expansion into blade manufacturing locally would result in more jobs.

A council economic officer pointed out: “This project is one of the key drivers for the re-establishment of large-scale, on-going manufacturing at Arnish Point.”

In addition this would “be one of the catalysts that will establish a long-term renewable energy manufacturing facility and industry in the Western Isles”.

Over 130 villagers in Kinloch previously objected against the windfarm with 21 in favour.

Pairc community council wants the development but the North Harris body across the sealoch is against.

SNH has withdrawn its original objection that the turbines would kill numerous golden and sea eagles.

thisisnorthscotland.co.uk

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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