A bid to build two wind turbines on a croft on Great Bernera in the Hebrides has been thrown out because they would spoil the look of the ancient Callanish Standing Stones – across a sea strait about four miles away.
Crofter and merchant seaman Norman Macdonald sought to build the 900kW generators, each 220ft high, on land to the north of number 24 Kirkibost on the island of Bernera, which is linked by a bridge to the west side of Lewis.
Western Isles Council went against its own planning officers and approved the application in March last year.
The Callanish Stones are the top tourist attraction for the Western Isles and nationally are equal in importance to Stonehenge, said island planners.
They also highlighted the building work would create significant investment within the Western Isles and benefit local companies, contractors and their employees on top of indirect spending in local shops. There would be local jobs in their ongoing maintenance. Annual payments to the community would be invested in improving local amenities.
The planning bid was called in by the Scottish Government “in light of the national interest this proposal raises” because the monoliths are a scheduled ancient monument.
The government has now refused the planning application, maintaining the turbines would spoil the prehistoric landscape.
Government reporter Donald Harris said: “This is not the only possible site for wind turbines, whereas the Callanish Standing Stones are immovable.
“The setting of such a supremely important national monument merits the most careful treatment.”
He said the wide view from the Callanish Stones to the west and south “is so important in complementing the monument, with its wild and unspoilt landscape of sea loch, moorland, rocky hills anddistant mountains. The proposal would seriously compromise the quality of this landscape setting.
“The intrusion of two turbines would detract from the timeless quality of this landscape. Tourists visiting Great Bernera would find that the unspoilt quality of the approach to the island and of the island itself had been lost.”
He accepted there would be economic benefit but said: “Onbalance, the effect on the local community would be harmful.”
The nearest neighbours did not oppose the development. It is understood some islanders withdrew objections at a late stage.
The applicant Norman Macdonald was not available for comment.
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