Controversial plans for an 18-turbine wind farm at Edinbane on Skye were given the unanimous blessing of Highland councillors yesterday after what may prove the final act of a tense drama which, ironically, was played out on the stage of a theatre on the island.
Around 100 people packed into the intimate Aros Centre to witness a bruising clash between pro and anti wind farm campaigners who have battled it out for five long years.
The pro lobby won the day, but there was a late twist before the curtain fell, with objectors revealing that European Union lawyers were preparing to intervene in their favour in a move which could again delay the process.
Skye Windfarm Action group chairman John Hodgson stunned councillors, authority officials and islanders by dropping the bombshell as part of a last ditch 30-minute presentation in which he tried in vain to sway councillors deciding the fate of AMECS long-resisted planning application.
He said, “I have been given permission by Brussels to inform you that the European Commission has implemented legal action against the UK’s authorities over issues surrounding this wind farm.
“They have taken the almost unprecedented step of instigating this action prior to today’s decision.”
Mr Hodgson said that if a development has the potential to affect a European designated environmentally protected area an appropriate impact assessment must show beyond all reasonable doubt that such a development would not harm the integrity of the area.
He did not expand in terms of what form the legal intervention might take, but said it concerned a perceived lack of environmental assessment on the part of the developer.
He said after the meeting, “I have spoken to the case officer in Brussels who advised me that the commission had implemented legal action against the UK authorities over Edinbane.”
Hotelier Hazel Abendschein warned the scheme would have devastating consequences on the £300,000 a year earned from tourism in the Edinbane area.
10 MJarch 2007
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