Dr Bill Band, the Strategy and Communications Manager for Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), told the seventh day of a Public Inquiry into the Eishken windfarm development in Stornoway that while they were still opposed to the 53 turbine proposal in South Lewis he thought the Isles had a bright future through onshore windfarms.
The application by Beinn Mhor Power Ltd for the £120 million scheme, has been made by Nick Oppenheim, the owner of the Eishken Esate.
Dr Band told the Inquiry Reporter Ms Janet McNair that nearly 5000 MW of renewable generation was already installed or consented in Scotland. Around 3000 MW more was needed to meet the 2020 target.
More than sufficient schemes were already within the planning system to meet that target, without approving schemes which would compromise valuable environmental resources.
He said that SNH had objected to the original 133 turbine proposal because of the adverse impact it would have on the South Lewis, Harris and North Uist National Scenic Area, on wild land qualities, and on golden and white-tailed eagles.
Whilst the 53 turbine revision had reduced likely impacts on birds to an acceptable level, their objection on the basis of the impacts on the NSA and on wild land remained outstanding.
Dr Band also submitted that the proposed payments to community trusts and proposed lease turbine agreements should not form part of the planning consideration. He said SNH was not persuaded that the socio-economic benefits were of national importance or of a scale which would outweigh the significant adverse effects on the NSA.
However the Feiriosbhal windfarm (16 turbines) a subset of the Muaitheabhal project, had the full support of SNH.
Dr Band told the Inquiry: “My own view is that the Western Isles have a bright future from renewable energy through onshore windfarms. The Western Isles is also sitting adjacent to one of the best energy resources in the world if you look at their wave energy resources.”
A site inspection will take place tomorrow (Thursday) when the Inquiry concludes, and the submissions by the various parties to the Inquiry Reporter will be in writing. The submission by the Western Isles Council, who supported the application, will appear on their website.
21 May 2008
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