Councillors are to seek an urgent meeting with Scottish Natural Heritage in a last-ditch attempt to save the giant Lewis wind farm.
They want to see if the agency will change its approach to European environmental directives, despite earlier recommending refusal of the application because it said developers had not shown there would be no adverse effects on the integrity of Special Protection Areas.
A special meeting of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) was held in Stornoway yesterday in the wake of the news the Scottish Government is minded to refuse permission for Europe’s largest wind farm The council is convinced that the £500m project could transform the fortunes of the islands. But ministers have told the developers: “We have concluded that the proposal would have significant adverse impact on a site protected by the Wildlife and Habitats Directives.”
Developer Lewis Wind Power has until the end of next week to dissuade ministers from refusing it, and is being helped in its efforts by councillors.
Yesterday it agreed to seek an urgent meeting with SNH chairman Andrew Thin. A spokesman for the council said: “There was concern about SNH’s attitude to environmental directives and designations, and how it seems inconsistent with other parts of the country and other parts of Europe.
“It was seen by councillors as meaning effectively no development at all, particularly in the Western Isles, whereas other areas seem to approach the directives and designations as being measures brought in to allow development to go ahead in sensitive areas subject to important mitigation.
Development official Derek McKim said: “It is clear that it is up to the member states to interpret the EU directives. Other states take a different, more liberal, view.”
He said there was a view in other countries that “climate change should take precedence over environmental considerations”.
By David Ross
5 February 2008
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