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Hebrides News


A plan to increase the capacity of a proposed giant wind farm on the outskirts of Stornoway has been backed by the Comhairle.


The council supports building a major £220 million development by Marybank and the Lochs Road, about a mile out of town.


Changes to a proposal to erect 36 giant turbines were considered by the council’s planning committee today.


Developers, Lewis Wind Power (LWP) - a partnership between Amec and French government-owned EDF Energy - wants to build bigger, slightly higher and more effective generators on crofters’ grazings.


The number of turbines remains at 36 but the previously agreed overall capacity will increase by 15% - from 130 MW to 180MW.


Shifting two thirds of the machines to avoid deep peat brings the scheme closer to wild bird breeding areas.


RSPB Scotland which raised fears of harm to golden eagles, sea eagles, and red-throated divers withdrew its objections at the last minute, the committee was told.


In addition, LWP will build a bridge crossing over the River Creed crossing which may cause disturbance to the water flow on the salmon river and risks temporarily polluting the water quality through the accidental introduction of soil.


Planners say the bridge’s design constraints will have a negligible effect on fish.


Outstanding significant objections are from environmental agency, SEPA, which is concerned over the impacts on peat.


The developer intends building access tracks over deep peat but to excavate down to the bedrock where the cover is shallower.


SEPA wants an access road junction within the scheme moved away from a tributary of the salmon habitat at the River Creed.


It is reckoned the Stornoway windfarm will support 75 jobs in the Western Isles and generate contracts worth £40 million for the local economy.


It also strengthens the case for the Western Isles sub-sea cable, which will free up the area’s renewable potential to generate electricity for the mainland, including for emerging marine energy technologies.


Once it is up and running the wind farm will save thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, and produce enough electricity to power more than 60,000 homes.


Western Isles head of development services, Keith Bray, told the committee: “It is a highly visible site but the assessed landscape capacity can take it.”


He pointed out LWP has not applied for more turbines but seeks to increase their height by one metre.


The Scottish Government will make the final planning decision and the council urges it not to hold a public inquiry which could slow down the process.


Council backs plans for larger capacity windfarm


19 August 2015