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Plan for £70 million wind farm lodged

Plans to build a new £70 million wind farm on Lewis were formally lodged today.

2020 Renewables wants to erect 14 turbines, each of three megawatt capacity, on the North Tolsta crofters’ grazings, some ten miles outside Stornoway.

The company’s proposals were revealed by Hebrides News last year and now the firm has submitted an official bid for planning permission.

The 42 MW 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 to the west of North Tolsta.

The energy firm says community benefit payments could be worth £294,000 per year – £7million over the lifetime of the development.

If approved the development will generate sufficient electricity to power approximately 24,000 homes every year.

The application has been submitted after substantial consultation with the local community including the local grazings committees and landlord Stornoway Trust.

Consultation with the local community has also included work on the environmental and economic impact.

The wind farm is expected to involve investment of £63 million in the Lewis economy and 70 jobs during construction as well as a number of full time jobs once the development is fully operational.

It will also make a significant contribution to the Scottish and UK Government’s renewable targets.

2020 Renewables Ltd is a renewable energy developer with considerable experience in developing, constructing and operating onshore wind projects.

Development Director Alasdair MacLeod said: “If approved this project will offer significant benefits to the community in Tolsta and across the Outer Hebrides.

“We have consulted widely with the local community and put in place a package of some of the most generous community benefits anywhere in Scotland. That will deliver £7 million over the course of the project.

“The project will also provide a boost to the local economy. Up to 70 jobs will be provided over the construction phase of the project with a significant percentage of those being recruited from the local community.

“Very importantly, the project will also contribute to the socio-economic case for the proposed interconnector to the mainland.

“The Outer Hebrides has a massive clean green energy potential. Our project will help deliver jobs and investment to these islands as well making a contribution to the Scottish and UK Governments renewable energy targets.”

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.

2020 Renewables is controlled by UK-based Velocita Energy and ultimately owned by giant American-owned private equity firm, Riverstone.

A standalone entity called Druim Leathann Windfarm Ltd (formerly called Tolsta Windfarm Ltd) has been established for the North Tolsta development.