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Last Updated: Monday, 22 March, 2004, 15:36 GMT
Giant wind farm plans for island
Wind turbine
The proposal is for 300 wind turbines
The island of Lewis has been earmarked as the site for a major wind farm under plans to be submitted to ministers.

The proposal to build up to 300 giant turbines on the Lewis peat lands is among four wind power schemes being considered for the island.

Barvas Moor to the north of the island would see the siting of some of the world's tallest turbines.

However, much of the area has special protection status and conservation groups have voiced concerns.

Turbines almost three times the height of Nelson's Column would be erected across the moors should the proposals get the go-ahead.

The backers of the plan say the location is almost perfect for the large-scale generation of electricity from wind power.

Bill Grainger of Lewis Wind Power said: "There are not many places where we could build a wind farm of this size.

"We've not got horrendous mountains causing us turbulence problems - it's a very good wind farm site."

Environmental impact

It has been estimated that the wind farm would produce as much electricity as a conventional power station.

The prospect of new investment and jobs for the Hebridean island has led to support for the project.

Up to 300 massive turbines, taking up a huge area of the island, for me it is simply too large
Calum Angus Mackay
But concerns have been expressed about the impact on the landscape, and local crofters are split over whether the giant turbines should be allowed.

One of them, Calum Angus Mackay, said: "Up to 300 massive turbines, taking up a huge area of the island, for me it is simply too large.

"I think it is over-ambitious and there is a lot of political bullying going on as well."

But another crofter, Neil Finlayson, supports the wind farm plan.

"Very few people here on the Hebrides would just buy into the argument that we have to keep ever single area of this landscape pristine for rare birds," he said.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has given its support to renewable energy projects but warned that consideration must be given to bird life.

It said that it would go to court if wind farm projects endanger habitats.

It has called for detailed ecological surveys of such areas and legal protection for those that qualify under European law.

Rural Development Minister Ross Finnie has insisted that there is no evidence to suggest wind farms pose a threat to birds.

Detailed plans for the project are due to be submitted in the summer.

BBC Scotland's Craig Anderson
"There are four wind farms proposed for Lewis"

Wind farm 'threat to bird life'
03 Mar 04  |  Devon
Approval for wind farm project
13 Feb 04  |  Scotland

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