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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 April 2006, 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK
Lewis wind farm plans scaled back
Wind farm
The proposed turbines on Lewis would be 400ft-high
The company behind plans for a massive wind farm on Lewis is further reducing its size following concerns over the threat to birds.

Lewis Wind Power is revising its proposals for 209 turbines. The scheme has already been scaled back from 234.

Development director John Price said the plans were now for about 190 turbines although they would still be 400ft high.

He said this would help reduce the impact on bird life.

Last year Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) approved a planning application for 209 turbines costing 400m, despite receiving more than 4,000 objections.

Hopefully the scheme will now be more attractive to a greater number of people
Iain M Mciver
Stornoway Trust

If approved by the Scottish Executive it would become the world's largest onshore wind farm.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is concerned about the number of birds which would be killed after flying into the turbines and warned that it was willing to take the matter to Europe if necessary.

After hearing of the revised plans a spokesman said the company had still failed to address all of its concerns.

Mr Price said the company still hoped to install about 600-700 megawatts of capacity.

"It's still close to 700 megawatts, so we don't think the community benefits will be affected much," he said.

'Socio-economic benefits'

"What we would like to do is to make it as easy as possible for Scottish ministers to permit.

"We don't want it to be such that the environmental lobby can come down hard on them if they do agree to it.

"We want it to be as good a scheme as possible and still achieve the aims of getting the interconnector and bringing socio-economic benefits to the islands."

Mr Price said the "thinning out' of the turbines would be across the three estates of Stornoway, Barvas and Galston.

White-tailed eagle
The RSPB is concerned about the threat to white-tailed eagles

However, he added that the biggest stumbling block was on the 70,000-acre community-owned Stornoway Trust land because of the eagles there.

If the Lewis Wind Power plans get the go-ahead it would mean three to four years' work for the local fabrication yard at Arnish.

The trust's factor, Iain M Maciver, said: "This reduction is good news in that there is going to be less impact without seeing a huge difference in the benefits that will come from the wind farm.

"Thanks to improved efficiency and the projected increase in the price of electricity, the community will benefit.

"Hopefully the scheme will now be more attractive to a greater number of people."

'Damaging effects'

An RSPB Scotland spokesman said: "We would reiterate that this site is protected under EU conservation law.

"Even if steps are taken to reduce the impact on eagles there are still many other important bird species, such as dunlin and golden plover, which we believe would be adversely affected by a large-scale wind farm - not to mention the damaging effects on the fragile peatland habitat on which the wind turbines would be built."

The new planning application is expected to be submitted to the council in June.

The downscale follows the decision to cut the number of turbines at another proposed wind farm.

Eishken estate owner Nick Oppenheim, the man behind Beinn Mhor Power, has submitted a revised plan for 53 three-megawatt turbines instead of the original 130 approved by Western Isles Council in June last year.

'Largest' wind farm gets go-ahead
27 Apr 06 |  Glasgow and West
Councillors scale back wind farms
20 Apr 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Eagle worry over new wind farms
28 Jan 06 |  Scotland
Wind farm 'maps' generate new row
30 Nov 05 |  Scotland
Council backs huge wind farm plan
30 Jun 05 |  Scotland
Greenpeace opposes wind farm plan
06 Apr 05 |  Scotland

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