Villagers on Lewis have voted against a controversial proposed giant wind farm as the local council holds special meetings to hear evidence over planning permission.
Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) want to build a £200 million development across crofters’ common grazings. The 57 turbines are each nearly 500 feet high and would be erected close to many villages across the hills and glens of South Lochs.
Some 28 miles of wide roads plus nine quarries, a construction compound, sub-station and monitoring masts would also be build. Huge lorries would use the public main roads to deliver construction materials and towers.
Building would take two years with an average of 75 workers employed at various stages including Sundays in an emergency.
The village of Gravir in Pairc is earmarked as the landfall for an enormous sub-sea cable to export the electricity to markets in the south.
Western Isles Council has set up special meetings over the wind farm plans next week. It will take a final vote on the scheme and submit its decision to the Scottish Executive by 14th December.
Pairc Community Council arranged the a ballot within local townships. 45% of the 356 electorate responded with a majority of 65.4% opposed.
Now the body is set to tell planners of the residents’ opposition when it is the first up to give evidence at the two-day hearings which start on Monday.
The community body hoping to stage a buyout of the estate will also present their case to planners. Pairc Trust was recently told that the current owner can legally hold onto the the rights to multi-million profits from the windfarm after a forced sale.
Devlopers SSE will also have a chance to state its views as well as RSPB, Crofters Foundation and Western Isles NHS. Council departments like archaeology, transport and environment will also submit their opinions.
Many villagers are angry that the turbines would dominate the view at Loch Erisort along a major tourist route.
Combined with two other controversial giant schemes it would mean a chain of turbines from one end of Lewis to the other, changing the moorland into a industrialised landscape.
The 3.6 megawatt, high-powered machines would give a total capacity of 205 megawatts. Many of the turbines are about a mile from houses and others are close to the road winding through the district.
Although the number of machines has been reduced from the original proposal of 125 machines mooted in 2003, the total energy capacity remains roughly in target because bigger turbines will be utilised.
29 August 2007
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