Friday, 25 January 2008
It was reported on Friday evening that the windfarm, proposed for the north of Lewis, is set to be rejected by Scottish Ministers. The project was for 181 turbines, each standing 450 feet tall, marching from Port of Ness in the north to Bragar in the west and Stornoway in the south. This would have meant one turbine for every 400 yards.
The windfarm was approved by the Western Isles Council, who had hailed the proposal as the salvation for the local economy. WIC convener Alec MacDonald expressed his deep disappointment at the likely rejection. Saliently, the Isles MSP [Member of Scottish Parliament], Alasdair Allan, was happy at the turning-down of the windfarm, saying it was too big for Lewis.
The main reason for Scottish Ministers not to approve the windfarm would seem to be environmental considerations. The islands are peppered with environmental designations, and the bird charity RSPB was most vocal in its opposition. Granting approval would have exposed the UK government (note!) to legal action from the EU, as the scheme is in violation of various environmental directives.
A final decision is likely within the next few weeks, as the developer (Lewis Windpower, LWP) has been given three weeks to come up with a reason why the project should go ahead after all, in the face of the opposition put forward by the Scottish Government.
If the decision is confirmed as a rejection, this puts the other two projects (in Eishken and Pairc) in doubt as well, to my mind. The reason is the Interconnector, the link-up with the electricity grid on the mainland across the Minch. It is not at all certain that the 50-odd turbines on the Eishken Estate and the 26 in Pairc would justify a £1bn cable across the water.
All shall be concluded by the middle of February.