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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 August 2006, 08:46 GMT 09:46 UK
Views split on Lewis wind farms
Wind turbine
Wind energy is a contentious issue in the islands
A survey of 600 people living in the Western Isles has found opinion to be split on the building of large-scale wind farms in Lewis.

Western Isles Development Trust (WIDT) commissioned market researcher Ispsos MORI to carry out the poll.

People were asked to what extent they supported or opposed major projects.

Some 41% of the respondents said they strongly supported or tended to support such developments, while 40% strongly opposed or tended to oppose.

The survey also found that 80% of those questioned backed proposals to create a centre for the study, research and development of renewable energy in the Western Isles.

And 75% supported upgrading the link between the Western Isles and the National Grid.

'Important survey'

Peter Carlin, chairman of WIDT, said: "This is an extremely important survey as it demonstrates that there is significant support in the wider community for the principle of building major wind farms on Lewis.

He added: "It would appear from this survey that opinion in the community both for and against wind farms is very evenly matched."

The survey was based on a survey of 601 residents conducted by telephone between 12 and 20 May.

Calls were distributed among the island groups - Lewis, Harris, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist and Barra - in proportion to their populations.

WIDT includes Outer Hebrides Community Planning Partnership, Hebridean Renewable Energy Partnership, Scottish Crofters Foundation, Association of Community Councils and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council).

Lewis peatlands (Pic: Paul Rincon/BBC)
Lewis peatlands where it is proposed to site wind farms

Lewis Wind Power, which is made up of the companies Amec and British Energy, is behind plans for a wind farm which could create 333 jobs during its four-year construction.

Director David Hodkinson said: "The results of this opinion poll reflect the general balance of opinion we have witnessed during the development of our proposal over the past five years."

He added: "Lewis Wind Power remains committed to the development of a wind farm on Lewis that is designed in an environmentally sensitive way and provides major socio-economic benefits to the Western Isles."

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