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Developer pulls out of £200 million windfarm

The developer of a £200 million wind farm in Lewis has pulled out of the scheme.

GDF Suez maintains the uncertainty of installing a sub sea cable to export the renewable electricity from the planned development on the Eishken estate in South Lochs has driven their decision.

Western Isles Council confirmed it had been informed of GDF decision to ditch the development.

Planning permission for some 39 huge turbines has been secured but a series of delays in the £400,000 underwater interconnecter stalled the wind farm construction due to start last year.

The windfarm – which would be the largest in the Western Isles – would produce enough electricity to power 100,000 homes which is over ten times more than required locally but without the £750 million energy link cable and associated infrastructure there is no way of exporting the energy.

The French corporation previously made a £20 million deposit to secure its place on the cable.

EDF also owns the right to build a further 26 turbines on moorland on the neighbouring Pairc estate.

It is believed it is also seeking to withdraw investment from the Pairc proposals.

The Eishken development would have meant about £1 million a year of community benefit being paid to local trusts for the next 25 years.

Much of that was earmarked for the Muaitheabhal Community Wind Farm Trust and the Western Isles Development Trust.

The Western Isles Development Trust (WIDT) was set up by Western Isles Council to negotiate community benefit from renewable energy developers and to invest that money into economic, educational, environmental, cultural, social and recreational projects for the benefit of islanders.

Its business plan places great emphasis on local co-operation and is complementary to the work of local agencies and existing mainstream support programmes.

Giving financial support for business and community projects, research into renewable energy and encouraging energy efficiency measures are its main aims once it gets off the ground.

Funding applications are expected from village halls, historical societies, and Gaelic language schemes as well as initiatives which encourage youth to stay on the islands.