Plans for a controversial Skye windfarm were a step closer to becoming reality last night after it emerged that Highland planning chiefs are recommending councillors approve the proposals.
It is almost five years since initial proposals were submitted for a windpark at Edinbane in the north of the island, an area famed for its golden eagle population and on the edge of a Special Protected Area (SPA).
Planning director John Rennilson indicated yesterday that he now felt there was no reason to halt the project.
Councillors will hold a special meeting on the plans next Friday.
Engineering company Amec’s proposals, which have been bitterly opposed have been reduced from 28 to 18 turbines, each 330ft high.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), a statutory consultee, last week withdrew its objection to the plan following the submission of a revised environmental assessment.
RSPB Scotland remains opposed on the basis that the science does not address the potential threat to golden eagles and other protected raptors.
The organisation has also reminded the authority that building a windpark there would breach the council’s own green energy guidelines because the area is not favoured for such development.
It also claims the scheme would contravene the EU’s Habitats Directive.
But Mr Rennilson said: “We inevitably place more reliance on SNH, who are both our advisers but also advisers to the Scottish Executive.”
Last night David Hodkinson, managing director of Amec’s wind energy business, welcomed the decision.
He said: “We are very grateful for the continued strong support from the local community and hope for a positive decision at the hearing next week.”
Judith Hodgson, of the Skye Windfarm Action Group, claimed approval would be an infringement of EU legislation.
She claimed that SNH had proved to be “inconsistent” in its views and was therefore “unfit” to determine the impact of the plans on golden eagles.
The planning committee will have a site inspection prior to a full hearing at the Aros Centre, Portree.
By Iain Ramage
2 March 2007
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