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Result of wind farm inquiry is delayed

The outcome of a public inquiry into a controversial giant wind farm on Lewis may be delayed until September.

The inquiry reporter examining the £ 150 million Eishken scheme has been landed with a second wind farm inquiry.

Originally, it was anticipated that the Scottish Government would have received the findings of reporter Janet McNair in July.

A source close to the First Minister indicated that Alex Salmond wanted the issue expedited within two months.

However, Ms McNair has told parties involved in the inquiry that she has taken on another windfarm case which “will impinge on my ability to complete my report as quickly as I would like.”

She said the date would be “not before the end of summer is my expectation.”

In any case, it now seems likely that the Scottish Government may announce its view on planning permission by December with all sides pressing for a quick decision.

There was nothing particularly new in the inquiry that had not been rehearsed by islanders over the past four years.

This week’s forum narrowly focused on industrialising the South Lewis national scenic area (NSA) with half of the 53 giant turbines plus 20 miles of roads and five large quarries.

That has to be weighed against the national economic benefits rather than any exclusive local advantages.

On Thursday, the last day of the inquiry saw opponents and supporters tramp a seven mile trek across the hills from Harris to Lewis to visit the turbine sites. It included a voyage by boat on Loch Seaforth where many of the machines would be built right in front of the village of Maruig, North Harris.

From Eishken Lodge they saw the craggy slopes of Feiriosbhal where Western Isles Council has already awarded planning permission for 13 turbines despite the same machines coming under the auspices of the inquiry.

Hebrides News

25 May 2008