Lewis wind farm refused

Controversial plans for an onshore wind farm on the Isle of Lewis have been turned down by the Scottish Executive because of the impact it could have on local birdlife.

Lewis Windpower’s application to erect 181 turbines on the island, off the north west coast of Scotland, had provoked more than 10,000 objections

Ministers said on Monday that the turbines would have a serious impact on the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area, which is protected under EU law as a special habitat for rare and endangered birds.

Energy minister Jim Mather said his decision did not rule out the possibility of future wind farms in the Western Isles.

“I strongly believe the vast renewables potential needs to be exploited to ensure that the opportunities and benefits of new development can be shared across the country in an equitable fashion,” he said.

“That’s why we will urgently carry out work on how to develop renewable energy in the Western Isles, in harmony with its outstanding natural heritage.”

The executive has set a target of generating 50% of electricity from renewables by 2020.

In a statement, Lewis Wind Power said it was “bitterly disappointed” by the decision and still considering its next move.

The company said: “Over the six years of this project, we have conducted extensive environmental and economic studies and design the development around these findings.

“As a result, we believe we had put forward a detailed case showing the benefits of our proposal and the benefits it would bring to Lewis, the Highlands and Islands region, and to Scotland.”

Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland, praised the decision to reject the application.

He added: “We hope that Lewis Wind Power now recognises that this is an inappropriate site for a wind farm and we seek reassurances from them that they will not simply seek to continue pushing modified versions of the same proposal in the same location.

“We are, however, very willing to work with them to identify new areas in Scotland that would be suitable for renewable energy development.”

A final decision on the application has been awaited for several months. In January, the BBC reported that ministers had already made up their mind to refuse the application – a claim which ministers denied.

Kate Martin

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie