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.