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Eishken windfarm could kill 23 eagles warns RSPB            25/7/13

RSPB Scotland warns more eagles will be killed if the Eishken windfarm on Lewis is allowed to expand.

Uisenis Power, which is owned by Eishken estate owner Nicholas Oppenheim, wants to build over 50 turbines on the South Lochs moorland.

It already has planning permission for 39 huge machines and, as Hebrides News revealed last month, is now seeking to erect a further 12 generators near an eagles flying zone.

An estimated eight sea eagles and a further four golden eagles would be killed by the latest turbines over 25 years, according to planning documents lodged by the developer.

If planning permission is won, the development would be offered for sale to energy conglomerate International Power - also known as GDF SUEZ Energy International - which already owns the rights to the proposed neighbouring £230 million wind farm.

International Power also holds the rights to build a wind farm on the next door Pairc estate.

The RSPB says around 26 breeding golden eagles are present around the windfarm site, one of the highest densities in Europe.

The final 51-turbine development would kill 23 eagles says the wildlife body as well as lose two golden eagle territories.

In addition to collisions, its research suggests that nest sites could be abandoned as the majority of proposed turbine placements are in close proximity to golden eagle eyries.

The Eisgein estate is located on the Pairc peninsula of Lewis which has proved to be the most attractive area for the colonising white-tailed eagle population in the Western Isles. Experts fear the Eisgein estate could become a sink for the species with turbine casualties quickly being replaced by more naive, individuals who succumb to the same fate. This process would limit future colonisation and result in a continual drain on the population.

Robin Reid, RSPB Scotland’s conservation officer for the Western Isles said: “This proposal shows a complete and utter disregard for the environment. Building wind turbines so close to breeding golden eagles could cause significant long-term damage to the local and national populations of this iconic species.

“We hope the Scottish Government will continue to give Scotland’s eagles a home by rejecting this unacceptable application. There are more appropriate places for such developments in the Western Isles where the environmental impact would be much lower.  For example, we recently worked with the developers to make the consented Stornoway wind farm acceptable.

“We strongly believe that until the consented developments on Eisgein Estate have been constructed and the effects monitored and analysed, no further wind farm development should be consented here.”