A major conference on renewable energy opens in Stornoway today while the Western Isles wait for news on whether Lewis is to host Europe’s largest wind farm.
The event is being held by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, the Western Isles Council, which has backed Lewis Wind Power’s bid for a 176-turbine development.
The Scottish Government has said it is “minded to refuse” the project but has yet to make a final decision.
Jim Mather, the minister for enterprise, energy and tourism, will address the conference but he is not expected to announce a decision on the wind farm.
The council says the £500 million development would create hundreds of jobs during construction as well as generating millions of pounds in community benefit.
However, the plans have attracted more than 10,000 objections and been attacked by conservation bodies including the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which will also address the conference.
Nigel Scott, the council’s spokesman, said the event aimed to bring together various bodies involved in the renewable energy debate.
He said: “Our vision for the islands is not about a couple of wind farms, but about renewable energy in the round – production, transmission, storage and all aspects of research and development.
“We have the best renewable energy resources in Europe and some of the best in the world and it would be ironic if that was not to be used to develop not only the local economy but the economy of Scotland. It would be tragic if that was wasted.”
One campaign group, Moorlands Without Turbines, has already pulled out of the conference in protest at the proposals.
By John Ross
17 March 2008
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