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Help Save the Lewis Peatlands  

Surfbirds readers may be aware that a revised planning application was submitted on 12 December by Lewis Wind Power (British Energy/AMEC) for a giant wind farm on Lewis. Most of the turbines and associated infrastructure are still located on the Lewis Peatlands SPA.

The developer has made changes to the layout and reduced the number of turbines – partly to minimise bird impacts, but we remain gravely concerned. Despite the changes, the development remains huge in scale: 181 wind turbines, each 140 metres tall, on an area designated for its special wildlife. There would be over 30 kilometers (27 miles) of overhead cables supported by 137 pylons (each 27 metres high), with a similar length again of cable underground; plus turbine foundations (each around 1000 cubic metres), hard standings, roads, quarries and no fewer than 8 electrical substations.

Lewis Wind Power believe they have addressed the threats to key bird species ““ including golden eagles, red and black throated divers, merlin ““ by moving turbines, creating “˜buffer zones’ and offering “˜mitigation’ for habitat loss. They say the damage that will occur is justified ““ we strongly disagree.

We are especially concerned about the impacts of this development on dunlin and golden plover, which breed here in very high densities. We do not see how the developers can avoid causing serious damage to these populations.

The moor is a very special place, both in national and international terms. The fragile peatland habitat (blanket bog) is found only in a few areas in the world, and though the turbines could be taken down after the lifetime of the development , the supporting infrastructure would cause irreversible damage to the structure of the peat, altering the water pattern and soil make-up forever. Our independent peat expert advises us that the developers have seriously under-estimated the damage to the habitat.

The developers seek to justify all this on the grounds that the development would bring an interconnector allowing electricity to be exported from the Western Isles to the mainland. This, they argue, would enable the Isles to be developed as a renewable energy powerhouse, creating local employment and bringing much-needed income to the community. We simply don’t believe that it is worth damaging such a valuable place, when there are viable alternatives. An interconnector to the Western Isles can be delivered without this development. We need renewable developments to help us in the fight against climate change, but if we are trying to protect the environment, the last place we should put them is on one of the best wildlife sites in Europe. The Scottish Executive’s own research shows that Scotland can exceed its renewable energy targets without the need for development on sensitive sites such as this.

The RSPB will be objecting to this wind farm in the strongest terms ““ but we are only one voice. The more objections the Executive receives, the more ministers will have to listen to our arguments.

That is why I am asking you, at a time when you will have Christmas and other things on your mind, to take the time to write a letter or e-mail objecting to this development. Objections need to be with the Scottish Executive by the end of January. Please send a letter to Consents and Emergency Planning Unit, Scottish Executive, Meridian Court, 5 Cadogan Street, Glasgow G2 6AT or e-mail energyconsents@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

Further information about what is proposed is available from:

our website http://www.rspb.org.uk/scotland/action/lewis/index.asp, where we will be posting information as well as our objection letter as soon as we have had a chance to review the developer’s Environmental Statement (which runs to hundreds of pages!)
the developers’ website at www.lewiswind.com
Please help us stop this development ““ and thank you for your support.

Martin Scott
RSPB Conservation Officer, Western Isles

Posted by Surfbirds at December 28, 2006 07:17 PM


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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