Opposing sides in a controversial giant wind farm row are keen to see the planning permission issue resolved one way or another.
All parties agreed to commence a public inquiry into the huge Eisgein scheme on Lewis on 13th May which is the earliest date available.
A pre-inquiry meeting was held yesterday (fri) in Stornoway to outline the procedures for the event. The May hearing is expected to last about two weeks though the actual inquiry will extend into many months.
The Scottish Government has stalled the go-ahead of 53 turbine Muaitheabhal windfarm earmarked for the privately-owned Eisgein Estate on Lewis until the inquiry is finished.
However, last month Western Isles Council approved planning permission for 13 of the same turbines.
Nick Oppenheim wants to build the development at his Beinn Mhòr project on the private land on the border between Lewis and Harris.
Government planners are concerned over conflicts between the wind farm’s close proximity to a National Scenic Area (NSA) and the socio-economic benefits.
Yesterday’s forum was told that arguments can be made that the windfarm’s purchase of locally manufactured towers and its need for a giant sub-sea cable across the Minch are important factors on a national level.
The issue of the combined effect of neighbouring proposed windfarms now has to be clarified as a 2005 assessment which did not include the adjacent Pairc scheme may be outdated.
Developer Nick Oppenheim said: “This is another day of significant progress towards creating the development and providing all the jobs.”
The pre-inquiry meeting was delayed after a blunder missed out thousands of people who should have been notified.
In an other twist, an estimated 400 objectors may not be allowed to speak at the probe as they ticked a confidentiality request when lodging their original representation. However, this may be waived if they now ask to make their letters public.
7 March 2008
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