Global finance interests are involved in plans to build a large windfarm on Lewis.
At the top of the chain of companies behind a proposal to construct up to 14 turbines on the North Tolsta district moor is the giant American-owned private equity firm, Riverstone.
Amongst Riverstone’s vast stable of energy subsidiaries is UK-based Velocita Energy which recently merged its UK business with 2020 Renewables which, in turn, has set up Druim Leathann Windfarm Ltd (formerly called Tolsta Windfarm Ltd) to build the 42 megawatt wind development on Lewis.
The head of Riverstone’s renewable energy funds is Lord Browne of Madingley who dramatically quit as chief executive of oil giant BP in 2007 after lying in the High Court during a legal fight to prevent newspaper reports over a former boyfriend.
Lord Browne also sits on the Coalition Government’s Cabinet Office board as its top non-executive with the remit to make government more business-like and improve efficiency.
The windfarm, stretching from Loch Diridean down to the forestry plantation at the glen, would include access roads, a sub station and a permanent wind monitoring mast.
Rock for the roads and turbine foundations would be excavated from quarries within the development’s 697 acre boundaries.
The wind scheme faces objections from aviation bodies over fears it may distort radar tracking of military and civilian aircraft.
In its initial response, Highlands and Islands Airports, the operator of the Stornoway airfield, warns it is “likely to object to this proposal, until it can be ascertained that the operation of Stornoway Airport would not be degraded, or a solution can be found to mitigate the effect, or eliminate possible interference.”
The Civil Aviation Authority also seeks evidence over the future safety of air traffic provision.
Environmental concerns may arise as the proposed windfarm sits on the edge of the Lewis Peatlands protected for its importance to breeding golden eagles, merlins, red-throated divers, black-throated divers, golden plover, dunlin and greenshank. Otters also inhabit the site.
Bird surveys will be undertaken in 2013 to complement earlier data for a formal planning application.
However, Scottish Natural Heritage suggests the proposal is “unlikely to have a significant impact.”
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