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£70m wind farm on Lewis given planning permission to be built

Councillors breached their own policy to allow the turbines to be built ten miles outside Stornoway.

Wind Farm: Community scheme faces uncertainty.
© iStockphoto

A controversial £70m wind farm has been given planning permission to be built on Lewis.

Councillors breached their own policy and went against recommendations to refuse the turbines on crofters’ grazing ten miles outside Stornoway.

Each turbine in the 42MW development at Druim Leathann just outside the village of North Tolsta will be 410ft tall.

Council officials said the scheme was too close to villages and would impose significant impacts on landscape, amenity and homes.

Three quarters of the turbines lie inside a one mile buffer zone from houses which is contrary to council policy for large wind farms.

A planning committee was told on Tuesday a quarter of the residents wanted the scheme to go ahead.

Cllr Catriona Stewart pointed out the 53 letters of support from locals with only one against was "clear cut" backing for the scheme. There are less than 200 houses in the area.

Cllr Rae Mackenzie stated: "The community (bar one) is unanimously in favour and we should listen to that view."

Alasdair Macleod of 2020 Renewables says community benefit payments could be worth £294,000 per year - £7m over the lifetime of the development.

The wind farm is expected to bring £63m to the Lewis economy and create 70 jobs during construction.

Mr Macleod said: "It’s great to get consent after many years of hard work and gives us the certainty to carry on to try and secure the grid connection and make the very large grid payment in early 2014.

"We have a grid connection of April 2017 but we think that is going to be delayed and we are waiting to hear from (grid operator) SSE by the end of this year for their latest expectations for the connection date."

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