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Councillors had "courage" to oppose fellow islanders

Western Isles councillors acted with “courage and conviction” in opposing their constituents and voting for giant wind farms according to the local authority.

The council defended its stance in a submission to next month’s public inquiry into the 53-turbine Muaitheabhal wind farm on the privately-owned Eisgein Estate on Lewis

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

The council repeated comments convenor Alex Macdonald previously made to the Scottish Government.

He said: “It has not been easy for the Comhairle to support proposed developments that a significant number of our fellow islanders have objected to.”

Mr Macdonald highlighted: “But we have made a reasoned and careful judgment that we believe to be the right one in the local and wider public interest. This, I believe represents courage and conviction by the Comhairle.”

The council urged the government to follow its “good example” to overrule public opinion in favour of “the potential benefits to our community and the wider national interest.”

The council makes it clear it opposes the public inquiry but will turn up to present its views.

The inquiry has been notified that former council planning chief Angus Nicolson, vice-convenor Angus Campbell, and head of its economic section Calum Iain Maciver, are the council’s witnesses.

The local authority’s submission makes scathing criticism of the RSPB and the council has the advantage of publicly denouncing the body at the inquiry where it wild bird’s organisation will not be allowed to give verbal evidence.

Hebrides News

24 April 2008