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Eishken wind farm supported on its own merits

The planning application for a 53 turbine wind farm in Lewis had not been influenced by the Western Isles Council’s previous decision to support the original application for 133 turbines.
This was stated today by the Council Vice Convener Angus Campbell, at the sixth day of the public inquiry at Stornoway into the application. Of the 53 turbines 27 will be within a National Scenic Area. Among the objectors are Scottish Natural Heritage and the John Muir Trust.

Vice Convener Campbell (52) told the inquiry it was his belief that the proposed scheme would have significant socio-economic benefits for the Western Isles and that these benefits would be so significant as to be of national importance.

He said: “As a businessman and retailer myself, I am all too aware of the fragility of the local economy and the need to seek to take forward every prudent means of strengthening our local economy and society.”

He said that along with other local wind farm schemes it would be likely to make even more economic the inter-connector to the mainland. Although the development would have an impact on the landscape, the Regeneration Plan – supplemented by other required mitigation and restoration measures – could ensure that the residual appearance would be acceptable, albeit different.

Mr Campbell also said that it was intended that the contributions made by the developer to the Western Isles Development Trust could be utilised in an Environmental Management and Enhancement project that would benefit habitants and species, including birds, throughout the Western Isles.

He then told the Inquiry Reporter, Ms Janet McNair, that the Council had advised the Scottish Ministers that the Council view was that consent should be granted to the amended proposal, but they had added their expression of disappointment that the amendment had been influenced by avoidance of eagles to the detriment of the level of the socio-economic benefit offered by the original scheme (133 turbines) and without benefit to either the landscape or to those people living in the nearest settlements of Maraig and Ardvourlie/Scaladale.

Asked by Ms McNair if the Council decision to support the 133 turbine application had influenced their support for the 53 turbines, he replied: “No. It was dealt with as a separate application and on its own merits. We also felt that it was more likely to make the inter-connector happen sooner.” The inquiry continues.

Stornoway Gazette

20 May 2008