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Council approves giant wind farm — again

A controversial giant wind farm has been approved for the third time by Western Isles Council.

The support for the 53 turbine scheme at Eisgein in South Lochs, Lewis, comes just three weeks before a public inquiry is held into the contentious development.

The planning application was before councillors for the third time on Thursday as fresh environmental information had to be considered before the inquiry commences.

Developer Nick Oppenheim applied for 133 turbines. He later slashed this figure to 57 machines and the council knocked out four.

Around 87% of people surveyed in the surrounding Kinloch district said they are against it.

To complicate matters the council previously awarded planning permission for an overlapping sub-set development covering 13 turbines.

But on Thursday, councillors reaffirmed its support for the scheme including wide roads and quarries on the privately-owned Eisgein Estate on the border between Lewis and Harris.

The council is opposed to the public inquiry but has agreed to present its case at the week-long hearing in Stornoway.

It has chosen former planning chief Angus Nicolson, who has left the council, to fight its case at the inquiry.

It will also call vice-convenor Angus Campbell and Calum Iain Maciver, its in-house economic head, as the other two witnesses.

Government planners are concerned over conflicts between the wind farm’s close proximity to a National Scenic Area (NSA) and the national socio-economic benefits.

Hebrides News

25 April 2008