The SNP faced claims last night that its energy policy is “in meltdown” after it rejected plans for Europe’s largest wind farm to be built on Lewis.
Ministers said they could not approve the proposal because of the impact on the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area, protected by European law. Energy Minister Jim Mather stressed it did not mean other wind farms could not proceed in the islands.
Opposition politicians accused the Scottish Government of having an energy policy which was “random in manner”. “The SNP’s energy policy is in meltdown,” said sustainable development spokesman for Labour, Iain Gray. “They are opposed to nuclear power and incapable of agreeing strategic renewable projects to replace it.”
LibDem energy spokesman, Liam McArthur, added: “Ministers cannot reject some energy forms and support others in such a random and populist manner.”
The announcement delighted opponents and environmental groups. But it dismayed Western Isles Council, which saw it as key to future economic prosperity, creating 400 jobs and bringing investment.
The developer, Lewis Wind Power, said it was “bitterly disappointed” by the decision.
Bill McAllister, of the Highland Renewable Energy Group, said: “The decision is a social and economic disaster for the Western Isles, but it raises major questions about the Scottish Government’s alleged commitment to renewable energy.
“The Scottish administration cannot decide to reject nuclear and opt for renewable energy instead and then reject the large-scale scheme without which the administration has no chance of reaching its own renewable energy supply targets.”
By David Ross
22 April 2008
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