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Last Updated: Friday, 16 June 2006, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
Reduced wind farm plan approved
Wind farm generic
The original plan for 130 turbines was reviewed after concerns
Councillors in the Western Isles have endorsed revised plans for a wind farm on the Eishken Estate on Lewis.

Estate owner Nick Oppenheim, the man behind Beinn Mhor Power, submitted a revised 120m plan for 53 turbines instead of the 130 originally approved.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Scotland had raised concerns about the proposal's effect on birds such as the golden eagle.

The society said on Friday it was maintaining its objection.

Mr Oppenheim expressed delight at the go-ahead for the site at South Lochs.

Sea eagle

Councillors approved the development by 15 votes to five on Thursday evening.

Mr Oppenheim has promised to give six of the turbines to the local community.

Last year, councillors approved an application by the developers for 130 turbines on the estate.

Mr Oppenheim reduced the development because of RSPB Scotland's concerns about golden eagles, white-tailed sea eagles and other birds on the estate.

Sea eagle (Pic: RSPB/PA)
A councillor blamed sea eagles for killing lambs

Harris councillor Morag Munro moved an amendment opposing the wind farm application.

She said it would be harmful to the general landscape and to the Loch Seaforth area of South Lewis and Harris to a degree which would compromise the objectives of its National Scenic Area designation.

Mrs Munro also said it would involve constructing turbines close to the shore of Loch Seaforth and houses in Maraig, Ardvourlie and Scaladale.

Birds not people

Angus Nicholson, who chairs the council's environmental committee, said the developer had agreed that 75% of the turbines would be manufactured at the Arnish Yard in Lewis.

South Lochs councillor Annie Macdonald was disappointed by a reduction in the number of turbines.

However, despite the decrease, she said the community benefit from the development was still bigger than any similar project in Scotland.

Picking up on concerns about birds of prey, Mrs Macdonald blamed eagles for eating lambs and said RSPB Scotland only seemed to be interested in birds and not people.

She added: "At the end of the day who indeed is in control of the destiny of our community?

"The people, or those who would create a wilderness of the island, completely devoid of people?"

RSPB Scotland said the revised wind farm proposal continued to pose a "significant threat" to golden eagles.

A spokesman said: "The recommendation for approval from the council was anticipated given that they were supportive of the larger 133 turbine layout.

"However, the final decision remains in the hands of Scottish ministers who have yet to reach a conclusion on the application."


SEE ALSO
Lewis wind farm plans scaled back
27 Apr 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Council backs huge wind farm plan
30 Jun 05 |  Scotland
Poll shows wind farm opposition
03 Mar 05 |  Scotland

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