January 25, 2008

Isle windfarm scheme in design rethink

The design of a controversial giant windfarm on Lewis will be revamped in a bid to win planning permission it has emerged.

Scottish and Southern Energy (SEE) will lodge new plans showing a reconfigured layout of massive turbines at Pairc in Lochs.

It means that the scheme will be delayed while the Scottish Government and Western Isles Council debated the new proposal.

It is understood that the revamped design has not yet been finalised and SSE refused to say if it would cut the number of turbines.

Last summer, SSE submitted a contentious planning application to build 57 turbines across crofting and private moorland in South Lochs.

But in December, Western Isles Council refused to pass the whole scheme despite many councillors lamenting the potential multi-million pound loss of community benefit.

The local authority urged SSE to submit a new bid based on the criteria of 26 turbines site it found acceptable. Many of the remaining sites were on private rather than crofters’ land which would drastically reduce the level community profits.

The issue was not discussed but passed on the nod by the full council though it officially endorsed the principle of constructing a widespread wind farm development in the district.

SSE is understood to be concerned that principle consultee Western Isles Council – which is supportive of giant wind farm applications – knocked back over half the turbines.

The final decision lies with the Scottish Government which will take great stock of the council’s view.

SSE confirmed it was “in the process” of revising the scheme.

A spokesperson said: “SSE will be submitting an addendum to the Scottish Government.

“This will be based on what the planning authority has already indicated they are looking for.”

Villagers say that replacing all the 31 sites Western Isles Council found unfavourable and to keep within the council’s criteria will be a difficult exercise on a reconfigured layout on the Pairc moorland.

Avoidance of a public inquiry is a high priority to both SSE and the council and would have shaped the energy firm’s move to submit revamped plans.

This is the third time SSE have changed their plans for the Pairc estate.

Originally it wanted to erect 125 turbines but this was cut to just 57 machines when the official application was lodged in June 2007. By adopting more powerful 3.6 MW generators only 45 megawatt of capacity was lost.

Many of the turbines are close to the road winding through the district and around 1.5kilometres from houses but others.

Islanders were angry over the dominant visual impact of a long line of turbines which would be seen from Kinloch and running parallel with Loch Erisort along the main tourist route to Harris.

The Press and Journal

25 January 2008

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2008/01/25/isle-windfarm-scheme-in-design-rethink/