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Islands economy needs Eishken wind farm says council

A controversial giant wind farm planned for Lewis must go ahead to urgently recover the local economy stressed a prominent Western Isles politician today.

The islands council vice convenor Angus Campbell spelled out the consequences of a falling population and a long-term depessed economy to a Government public inquiry into the massive scheme for Eishken in South Lochs.

Financier Nick Oppenheim plans to build 53 giant turbines with half the scheme including 20 miles of roads and five large quarries, would be spread over the South Lewis, Harris and North Uist national scenic area (NSA).

Mr Campbell highlighted: “Only a small part of the NSA would be affected.

He said: “The fragile population levels and employment opportunities are a threat to the future viability of schools and other services.

A major point of Mr Campbell’s argument is his steadfast belief that the windfarm would justify a sub-sea power cable to export the energy to mainland markets which in turn would unleash “the enormous renewable energy resources of the Western Isles” including marine and offshore wind schemes leading to a further jobs bonanza.

He admitted the scheme would have an impact on the landscape but believed that the approach to minimise the damage along with a restoration bond would mitigate matters.

He said the proposed wind farm would kick-start the Arnish wind tower yard in Stornoway and create vital jobs.

He pointed out that one planning condition is that the developer should buy 75% of goods and services for the windfarm from island busineses.

Hebrides News

20 May 2008