A leading churchman has thrown his weight behind a campaign to halt proposals for a massive windfarm on Lewis.
The bishop of Argyll and the Isles claims local feeling on the issue has been “effectively side-lined”.
The Rev Martin Shaw said it was “frightening to imagine” the effect 181 turbines could have on the area between Stornoway and Barvas.
He said he had been following the arguments for and against the £500million project by developer Lewis Wind Power (LWP).
He added: “While local feelings have not been ignored they have been effectively sidelined by arguments that are lacking in clarity and environmental facts, whether they are local or international.” He said the major effects of global warming are on a 50 or 100-year scale and, although urgent action is needed, “panic action” is not.
Last month, Western Isles councillors voted 18-8 to approve the LWP plan, subject to more than 50 conditions and with a recommendation that there be five fewer turbines. The final decision rests with the Scottish Executive.
LWP believes the windfarm will create more than 200 jobs. But the bishop said: “In terms of the economics of employment and the influx of finance, windfarms are characterised by low employee numbers and there is a limit to the number of genuine jobs that can be created. Further, there is little doubt that tourism will be badly affected.”
The plan has been opposed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which claims wildlife and the environment will be adversely affected.
The bishop agreed. He said: “We must cherish and protect the wild and unspoilt places. It would be so dispiriting to lose the moorland which gives the people of Lewis a constant reminder of what there is to love in the natural world.
“In the effort to counter global warming it could be counter-productive.
“There are other moorlands in the British Isles, but this awe-inspiring Lewis moorland has a unique light and atmosphere, created by its place on the edge of the North Atlantic. The threat to bird life is frightening.
“To stop on the road from Stornoway to Barvas on the west coast of Lewis, it is almost frightening to imagine the transformation that will take place when the windfarm’s towers are in place.”
LWP could not be contacted. But David Hodgkinson, Lewis windfarm director, has previously said: “While local opinion on the acceptability of the proposed wind turbines varies widely, most people we spoke to in our recent round of public exhibitions recognised the significant contribution our development would make to the local economy, not least through the offer to the community of a 15% ownership stake in the project and the number of short-term and long-term jobs it would help create.”
26 March 2007
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