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SSE drops plans for Pairc windfarm

Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) has finally confirmed it is axing its plans for a £110 million giant windfarm on Lewis.

The energy body has dropped its proposal for a 26 turbine, 94 Megawatt wind farm in Pairc at South Lochs on Lewis.

A bid for planning permission was originally lodged in 2007

SSE’s decision to pull out of Pairc was expected for some time with the firm focusing other onshore and marine renewables sites.

It is believed that arriving at an in-principle agreement with another island developer prompted the announcement.

SSE said “detailed and positive discussions” to transfer the SSE interest are ongoing.

The risk of killing protected golden and sea eagles as well as affecting divers was too great indicated the energy company.

SSE says it still believes that there is the potential to develop a wind farm with fewer turbines on the Pairc Estate, but the firm it has no plans to progress with a smaller development itself.

Its decision will not affect building a subsea cable under the Minch to export electricity from island windfarms.

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.”

RSPB Scotland said the scheme had potential to harm sensitive bird species including golden eagles, white-tailed eagles, merlin, black-throated diver, golden plover and dunlin.

Aedán Smith, RSPB Scotland’s Head of Planning and Development, said: “This is very welcome news from SSE. We have been concerned about this proposal for a number of years. SSE should be commended on this responsible decision which recognises the importance of this site for sensitive species. We hope SSE and other wind farm developers will continue to apply similar thinking and consideration to other sites where there are environmental concerns.

“Although much of Lewis is important for wildlife, there is still scope to develop windfarms as long as they are well sited and designed. We recently withdrew our objection to the 36 turbine Stornoway windfarm, which is on a less sensitive part of Lewis, following efforts of the developer to reduce impacts on wildlife.

“We look forward to continuing our constructive relationship with SSE and the renewables industry to ensure windfarms can continue to be built in the right places, without harming Scotland’s fantastic environmental assets.

“RSPB supports the development of renewable energy including wind farms to help tackle climate change, but they must be located in the right place avoiding our most important places for wildlife.”