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Lewis windfarm 'devastating' for environment

A controversial windfarm development on Lewis will have a devastating impact on an internationally important habitat, the RSPB claimed yesterday as they lodged an official objection to the scheme.

Lewis Wind Power (LWP) wants to build 181 turbines near to the Barvas moor. Thousands of tonnes of peat would be excavated from the area if the development goes ahead. The agency is calling for ministers to reject the scheme because of the potential damage to peatland, birds and other wildlife.

Director Stuart Housden said: “Despite a modest revision to their proposal, the fact remains that the vast majority of the development – that includes roads, pylons, quarries and substations as well as the 181 turbines each more that 460 feet high – will still be built inside a Special Protection Area, threatening habitats and wildlife of European significance.

“An industrial scale complex of this nature would cause massive long-term damage to this important area. It is simply the wrong development in the wrong place – and we remain resolute in our opposition.”

He added: “The Scottish Executive should reject this proposal – and send a strong signal to developers in Scotland that the laws we rightly have in place to protect our most important areas for wildlife will be robustly enforced. Sadly, it is cases like this that hinder the speedy roll out of renewable energy which is part of the solution to the serious threat posed by climate change.” It also emerged that LWP is mailing leaflets to 12,000 households in the Western Isles in a bid to promote the development to residents.

The mailshot avoids mention of a network of giant pylons and sprawling cables which is required to carry the electricity but highlights that “unprecedented time and resources” have resulted in a design with “maximises community benefits whilst minimising effects on local surroundings and wildlife.”

John Price, of LWP, said: “The evidence is that much of the Lewis Peatlands are drying out and actually releasing carbon into the atmosphere.”

Around £5.25 million would pour into the local economy annually with over 83% of the yearly £3.4 million land rental going to crofters and community owned trusts.