Page last updated at 23:06 GMT, Tuesday, 15 April 2008 00:06 UK

Wind energy company in Euro call

A wind turbine
LWP has proposed 181-turbines for Barvas Moor on Lewis

A major wind farm developer has asked European Commissioners to acknowledge support for its 181-turbine proposal for Barvas Moor on Lewis.

Lewis Wind Power (LWP) will be one group at a European Parliament event discussing the Europe-wide Natura 2000 network of protected areas.

Sites covered by the Natura 2000 designation include Lewis peat bogs.

LWP said the designation should not hinder developments which could bring benefits to remote communities.

Thousands of objections to the proposal were sent to Scottish ministers, many from local people. Conservation charity RSPB Scotland has also objected to it.

However, the scheme has been backed by the local authority and businesses.

We have effectively designed our wind farm around bird populations and movements
David Hodkinson
Lewis Wind Power

Scottish ministers have still to announce a decision on whether to approve, or reject the application.

The Natura 2000 event is to be held on Wednesday by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).

European Commissioners are expected to attend.

David Hodkinson, director of Lewis Wind Power, said: "Natura 2000 designations should not prevent developments, particularly where these will bring significant advantages to some of Europe's remote rural areas, suffering from de-population.

"There are ample case studies from across Europe of sensitive developments adjacent to or in Natura 2000 designated land."

He added: "We recognize the importance of the Lewis peat lands, which appear to be releasing CO2, and the habitats that they provide for many species of wildlife - that's why we have effectively designed our wind farm around bird populations and movements."

A spokesman for RSPB Scotland welcomed the recognition of Natura 2000 sites.

He said: "For this reason the Lewis Peatlands SPA must not be compromised for the sake of a wind farm, which will cause an enormous amount of damage to this rare peatbog habitat.

"The Scottish Government has have already shown that we can meet our renewable targets in Scotland without building on and destroying our most valuable habitats for wildlife, including the designated areas of the Lewis peatlands."

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