A delightful row has blown up in Scotland over the plan to erect 181 600ft wind turbines on the Hebridean island of Lewis.
For years we have been told how this largest onshore windfarm in Britain was going to help the UK to meet its now mandatory EU target to produce 20 per cent of our energy from renewable sources by 2020 – even though the 200 megawatts of electricity the turbines would intermittently produce represents only a quarter of the output of a modest-sized gas-fired power station.
But the £500 million scheme, which would involve building 100 miles of new roads, has aroused vehement opposition not only from the majority of the island’s inhabitants but from an array of conservation bodies, led by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
They are horrified at the immense damage this vast industrial installation would do to wildlife over a huge area of specially-designated peatland, not least to Scotland’s largest population of golden eagles.
Now the “Scottish government” (as it likes to call itself), which was shortly expected to give the go-ahead to this scheme, has been told by the European Commission that this would be in serious breach of various EU environmental directives.
So, on one hand, the EU exhorts us to build thousands more giant turbines, as the only way to fulfil our environmental obligations on renewable energy.
On the other, when a highly unpopular project is proposed to do just that, the EU turns round to say that this would be so environmentally damaging that, if the project goes ahead, the UK could face a colossal fine from the European Court of Justice.
If anyone suggests that, under the EU, you cannot win, who could disagree?
By Christopher Booker
3 February 2008
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