It is one of Scotland’s most famous and impressive Victorian structures but the Skerryvore lighthouse off the coast of Tiree could soon be lost from view.
Islanders campaigning against the siting of a massive off-shore windfarm to the southwest of Tiree have warned that the Stevenson-built structure will be hidden in a forest of massive turbines is ScottishPower is given the go-ahead for the Argyll Array.
If approved, the array would stretch from just off the southwest coast of the small Hebridean island far out into the Atlantic with hundreds of turbines, each possibly as big as London’s ‘Gherkin’ .
Many islanders believe the huge turbines will overshadow the whole island and also block views of the world-famous Skerryvore lighthouse.
Tiree islander Robert Trythall, who is leading the campaign against the wind farm, said that, if the turbines were built, the Skerryvore Lighthouse would be “obliterated” and lost from view.
He said: “If this thing goes through, we might as well tow the lighthouse to the dump and throw it in the builders’ skip. It is going to be lost in a forest of turbines, this inconaclastic, historic building is going to disappear. It will be obliterated.”
And Mr Trythall added: “Because they are building these things offshore, they can ride rough-shod through the planning aspects of this. If they wanted to do this on land and obscure an a-listed historic building, they would find it all but impossible to do so.”
The Argyll Array, as it is known, is one of several proposed developments which ministers want to approve in draft before parliament rises for the election campaign next month.
The No Tiree Array group, which has come together to fight the wind farm plans, says it does not mind the wind farm being built further out to sea but they do not want it so close to shore.
The campaigners have asked ScottishPower to site the turbines at least 35 km from the shore – in line, they claim, with Scottish Natural Heritage guidelines.
But ScottishPower insists that it cannot push the wind farm further out because the sea is too deep. The Tiree reef – which the Skerryvore lighthouse is sited on – is relatively shallow and that is where the energy company wants to put the turbines.
Historic Scotland has a key role in protecting structures like the Skerryvore lighthouse and a spokeswoman confirmed yesterday that the organisation was monitoring the situation closely and would be alarmed if such an important building was obscured by a wind farm.
The spokeswoman said: “We have advised that the application for the windfarm should take the setting of the Alan Stevenson designed Skerryvore Lighthouse and its associated shore station at Hynish into account and should try to mitigate any impacts.
“The proposal is currently going through an Environmental Impact Assessment and this is something we have asked to be explored as part of that process.”
ScottishPower spokesman Simon McMillan recently defended the windfarm plans, insisting they were vital if Scotland is to meet it’s renewables targets.
Mr McMillan said: “This is a very important project. This is a key part in meeting our carbon-reduction targets and, as an offshore development, this is an excellent location.”
And he added: “We have a very good track record of working with communities and we will keep the community constantly in touch with the project as it develops.”
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