Councillors from the Western Isles are to take their campaign backing the construction of a major wind farm on Lewis to the European Union.
It is understood that the Scottish Government is “minded” to refuse the 181 turbine scheme.
Angus Campbell, vice convener of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said a meeting with Enterprise Minister Jim Mather on Monday was “constructive”.
Mr Campbell said he would raise the project at a major event in Brussels.
As one of the key speakers at the EU’s Sustainable Energy Week, he will argue that European environmental designations were not supposed to stop all development in island communities.
The comhairle used the meeting with Mr Mather to call on the first minister to step into the row over Lewis Wind Power’s plans to build one of Europe’s largest wind farms on Barvas Moor.
It wants Alex Salmond to intervene because it believes the project will bring jobs and other economic and social benefits.
The Scottish Government described the discussions as “useful and wide ranging”.
No comment was made on the wind farm application, but a spokesman said the authority was committed to working with the comhairle – and local authorities across Scotland – to generate increased sustainable economic growth.
Earlier, SNP MSP Alex Neil said the government was not saying no to wind farms on Lewis in principle.
He explained: “You are talking about 181 wind turbines in Lewis. In the rest of Scotland at the moment there are 454 – that puts it in perspective in this one island.
“Now the government is not saying there shouldn’t be wind farms in Lewis, it is saying it is minded not to approve this particular project for various environmental reasons, and again here it’s a balancing act.”
Mr Campbell said the wind farm was crucial to the social and economic future of the islands.
Following the meeting with Mr Mather, he said: “Obviously the minister couldn’t comment on the specific LWP application, but he listened carefully to what we had to say about the socio-economic challenges that the islands face.
“It was a constructive meeting and paves the way for continued dialogue with the minister and the Scottish Government.”
More than 5,000 letters of objection to the proposals were received by the Scottish Government.
Supporters of the turbines have pointed to potential economic benefits, claiming more than 400 jobs would be created during construction.
The final decision on the planning application rests with the Scottish Government.
28 January 2008
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