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Large windfarm recommended for refusal          25/11/13

Planning officials are recommending that a proposed £70 million wind farm on Lewis should not go-ahead.

2020 Renewables wants to erect 14 turbines, each of three megawatt capacity, on crofters’ grazings, some ten miles outside Stornoway. Each individual turbine would be 126.5 metres high.

The planned 42 MW windfarm at Druim Leathann would stretch from Loch Diridean down to the forestry plantation at the glen, and include access roads, a sub station and a permanent wind monitoring mast.

Western Isles Council deferred making a decision on the development and councillors attended a site visit last week.

This afternoon (Tues) senior planners will tell councillors they believed the scheme should be refused as it is too close to villages and will have significant adverse impacts on landscape, amenity and homes.

Three quarters of the turbines lie inside a one mile buffer zone around the North Tolsta district which is contrary to council policy for large windfarms.

A planning report states: “Due to the scale of the turbines and the close proximity of the windfarm to the settlement of Tolsta, the proposal will have impacts of major significance on the visual amenity of Tolsta village and on a number of its residences.”

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

The wind farm would be 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 when operating.

Crucially it would help towards providing the critical mass needed to justify the building of a sub-sea interconnector needed to export energy from all island renewable scheme to southern mainland markets.

Without the cable, no sizeable wind farm will ever be constructed in the islands which supporters say  jeopardises an economic boom and risks hundreds of jobs.