Page last updated at 12:34 GMT, Friday, 30 January 2009

Wind power 'key' benefit to isles

Wind turbines
There has been disappointment over the number of turbines mooted

Onshore wind projects offer the best economic and community benefit to the Western Isles, according to a Scottish Government report.

It identifies potential for a 150 megawatt (MW) wind farm on North Lewis.

Last year, Scottish ministers rejected a plan for a 181-turbine scheme on Barvas Moor, Lewis, designed to generate 651 MW of electricity.

Angus Campbell, leader of the isles' council, said a target of 150 MW was "disappointing".

The report's authors said there was the prospect of marine devices creating 105 MW of power by 2015.

They have also suggested that a local wind energy control centre could be developed as a shared islands-wide resource, while encouraging developers to have turbines manufactured at Arnish Point would create jobs in new technologies.

That is a wasted resource at a time of economic challenge for the Islands
Angus Campbell
Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

Last week, it was announced one of the world's largest wave stations is to be constructed off Lewis.

Ministers granted consent for an application by npower renewables to operate a wave farm with a 4MW capacity at Siadar.

On the new report, Enterprise Minister Jim Mather said: "We want all areas of Scotland to be able to fully harness our vast potential for cheap, clean and green electricity.

"Maximising that potential brings economic and community benefits and the people of the Western Isles are no different in wanting to use their natural resources to build a sustainable economy."

Mr Campbell, leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, welcomed the publication of the report and the government's commitment to the isles.

He added: "It is disappointing, however, that the report only identifies a potential of 150 MW for North Lewis, particularly given the excellent wind resources of the islands.

"That is a wasted resource at a time of economic challenge for the islands. The comhairle's view is that around 75 turbines would be required to provide the stimulus needed to provide appropriate economic impacts, including the regeneration of the Arnish Yard.

"However, the most important result to emerge from this study must be action to further the development of renewable energy in the Outer Hebrides."

Plans to construct one of Europe's largest onshore wind farms was refused by the Scottish Government last April.

It said Lewis Wind Power's (LWP) 181-turbines did not comply with European law protecting sensitive environments.

The scheme had the backing of the local authority and business, but also attracted almost 11,000 objections.

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