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Controversial wind farm plans dropped by developer after ten years

Controversial plans for a £110m giant wind farm on Lewis have been dropped by the developer.

After ten years, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) is pulling out of its bid to construct 26 turbines on the hills in Pairc at South Lochs on Lewis.

However, a legal row over the land and wind energy ownership rights at the Court of Session could go on for years.

The landlord of the 26,000-acre moorland estate, Barry Lomas, is fighting the Scottish Government which used the Land Reform Act to force him to sell the wind farm energy lease to the community-led Pairc Trust.

At one point, the Pairc renewable project was SSE’s “biggest ever” wind scheme. The firm envisaged a 205MW farm with 125 turbines but this was knocked down to just 26 generators by 2007.

Then a new layout had to be submitted to minimise killing golden and sea eagles close to several villages and reduce the landscape impact near a popular tourist route.

But it has still failed to win planning permission and getting rid of more turbines to satisfy government planners and save eagles is not economically feasible, SSE said.

However, the firm has struck an in-principle deal to transfer the leased wind farm rights to another developer.

Paul Bailey, chair of Pairc Community Council said a clean ditching of the wind farm could help heal rifts in the community.

He said initially people welcomed the scheme but the realities of “the size, location and impact on landscape and birds did divide the community.”

He added: “Some could see the advantage to themselves and the developer and there were those opposed to it. It created bitterness in the community.

“If the wind farm disappears from the picture, villagers can sit down, reflect about it and rethink the way forward.”

David Gardner, SSE’s Director of Onshore Renewables, said: “We are strongly committed to developing onshore wind farms, but as a responsible developer, we will only do so if the proposals are environmentally sustainable.

“Our studies show that for the size of development we were proposing at Pairc this would not have been the case so we do not plan to progress any further.

“Whilst we will not be progressing with our proposal, we do feel there is scope for a smaller development that could greatly benefit the local community.”