The first major wind farm for the Western Isles was finally granted planning permission this afternoon (thurs).
Western Isles Council quietly signed the go-ahead for the £ 45 million scheme making it the only large energy scheme in the Hebrides to be approved.
Earlier this year the Scottish Government refused building the world’s largest onshore wind scheme on Lewis
The 13 giant turbines will be split on each side of the Feiriosbhal and Beinn Mheadhanach hills on the Eishken estate.
It is a sub-set of the controversial massive 53-machine Eisgein scheme which is the focus of an ongoing public inquiry which is not expected to make a decision until December.
Planning permission was granted within minutes of developer Nick Oppenheim signing a community benefit deal where a local trust will receive 1.5% of revenues, worth up to £ 14 million, from the private Feiriosbhal scheme.
Mr Oppenheim will hand two free sites – and not two turbines as suggested by Western Isles Council – over to a community wind farm trust established by himself.
Villagers have to raise around £6 million to develop their project and a third of their revenues will be paid to a council-led Western Isles-wide development trust.
Mr Oppenheim said “We may well build the turbines and sell them to the community. We will provide the community with advice and assistance over the construction and the selling of electricity.”
He promised to build the towers at the Arnish renewable energy manufacturing plant if the price was comparable with rivals.
He said: “If the “quality, price and after-sales service are similar to other yards then this is an absolute commitment.
Mr Oppenheim said that building work earmarked for 2011 depends on installing a sub-sea cable to export the energy to mainland markets.
He said: “It depends on the date of the interconnector cable. We would start building the windfarm two years before the cable is ready so they are both finished at the same time.”
Councillor Annie Macdonald said: “This is very positive news for the Lochs and I am confident it will regenerate the Lochs area with jobs and community funding.”
Protestors were angry and surprised to discover that the development had granted consent.
Tour guide Les MacNulty said: “Ten sea eagles as well as numerous golden eagles are around this site and this will kill them. This will also affect otters and wild salmon as are at risk from peat slides. This decision is jumping the gun and is disrespectful to the public inquiry which has still to report.
There is no commitment to the Arnish yard and Mr Oppenheim will go elsewhere if it is cheaper. The creation of five wind farm jobs will cost many others in tourism.
24 July 2008
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