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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 February 2008, 11:25 GMT
Wind farm rejection growth fears
Wind turbine components - generic
It is proposed to construct 181 turbines on Lewis
Economic growth will be jeopardised if plans for a massive wind farm on the Western Isles are rejected, the Scottish Chamber of Commerce has said.

Chief executive Liz Cameron is to meet Enterprise Minister Jim Mather to voice concerns that the Scottish Government is minded to refuse Lewis Wind Power.

She said there had been "over-zealous" interpretation of European designations designed to protect the environment.

Mr Mather said no decision had been taken on LWP's application.

He added that it was "unhelpful and inaccurate" to suggest the government was not dealing with the bid in a legitimate and proper manner with regard to the European Union's habitats directive.

The proposed site, Barvas Moor on Lewis, provides habitat for wildlife.

RSPB Scotland has raised concerns about the scheme's impact on wild birds, such as golden eagles.

'Potentially beneficial'

Thousands of objections to the 181-turbine proposal were sent to Scottish ministers, many from local people, but the scheme has been backed by the local authority.

The Scottish Government, which has the final say on whether it goes ahead, is minded to refuse the bid on environmental grounds.

Ms Cameron said: "Scottish businesses must not be penalised through an over-zealous interpretation of the habitats directive.

Golden eagle. (Pic: M Hamblin/RSPB Images
There are concerns about the farm's impact on eagles

"There are numerous examples of major developments taking place on designated areas or proposed areas for designation in England - such as port developments in the Humber and Bathside Bay."

She added: "We remain concerned that by apparently considering the rejection of the Lewis Wind Power development on the grounds of the habitats directive, many other potentially beneficial schemes in Scotland could be jeopardised."

Mr Mather said Scotland was not the only country which enforced its obligations under EU law.

He said: "If we are to achieve sustainable economic growth in this country we need business leaders to work with us to ensure that major economic developments take place in harmony with our international obligations.

"I will now be working to ensure that we have an even better level of dialogue to ensure that we are all better able to evaluate our options and obligations and develop our country in a way that gains and retains broad support and momentum."

LWP, which is a joint venture between international engineering project company Amec and British Energy, met government officials on Tuesday to make its case for the plan.

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