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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 January, 2005, 06:48 GMT
Storm grows over giant wind farm
Wind turbine
The proposed development has run into turbulence
Thousands of protesters have made official objections to plans for Europe's biggest wind farm on the Isle of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides.

Developers want to build more than 230 of the tallest wind turbines to be erected in Britain on peat moorland in the north of the island.

The Scottish Executive has made a commitment to renewable energy.

But the Lewis scheme is opposed by crofters, island communities and environmental campaigners.

Developers are promising millions of pounds will flow to landowners and island communities in royalties.

If this goes ahead, we've got to lose 50% of common grazing
Alec MacLeod
Crofter
Supporters insist building and operating the wind farm will bring prosperity to Lewis.

But fears have been aired that grazing land will be destroyed by the turbines, road-building and the massive quarries required to support the development.

Crofter Alec MacLeod said: "As a crofting area, we rely a lot on common grazing. If this goes ahead, we've got to lose 50% of common grazing.

"This year alone about 5,000 lambs have left this area for the British market, which brings in a great revenue."

The Western Isles local authority has not yet agreed its official response to the project.

But some councillors have urged people not to reject wind farms in general until they have weighed up all sides of the argument.

Energy targets

Councillor Angus Graham said: "I would be willing to sacrifice that pleasing landscape for the economic benefits that will come to these islands.

"These islands have very little going for them currently economically, I think this is a golden opportunity."

But anti-wind farm campaigner Catriona Campbell branded the proposals environmental vandalism.

She said: "Blanket bog is as rare as the rainforest, rainforest is also remote and undeveloped - would people advocate cutting down the rainforest and putting a wind farm into it?

"It's the same thing."

Barvas Moor
The wind farm is planned for Barvas Moor
The final decision will be taken by Holyrood ministers.

The towers will be higher than the tallest free-standing structure in Scotland - Glasgow's Science Centre Tower - and more than twice the height of the Scott Monument.

More than 300 jobs would be created during the wind farm's four-year construction and a further 350 jobs over its 25-year lifetime.

The plans have been lodged by Lewis Wind Power, a joint venture company.

It was formed by British Energy and London-based energy firm Amec.

The turbines would generate enough green energy to supply electricity to 450,000 homes.

It is estimated that the development could meet about 6% of the UK's renewable energy targets and cut carbon dioxide emissions by 1.85 million tonnes per annum, when compared with coal-fired power stations.

The developer claimed the 702-megawatt wind farm could generate up to 8m a year for the Western Isles economy.


SEE ALSO:
Scotland to host record wind farm
03 Nov 04 |  Scotland
Plans lodged for major wind farm
01 Nov 04 |  Scotland
Wind turbine projects power ahead
06 Oct 04 |  Scotland
Huge wind farm blows into action
24 Aug 04 |  Scotland
'Largest' wind farm plans passed
23 Dec 03 |  Scotland
Call to keep wind farms in check
12 Dec 03 |  Scotland
Q&A: Wind and wave power
12 Nov 01 |  UK News


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