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Wind farm gets go-ahead near golden eagle habitat

The Pentland Road development near Stornoway will be the first in Scotland to be built on protected moorland covered by European environmental laws.

Wind farm gets go-ahead near golden eagle habitat

Western Isles planners have approved controversial plans for a wind farm to be built near the habitat of golden eagles.

The Pentland Road development near Stornoway will be the first in Scotland to be built on protected moorland covered by European environmental laws.

The area has is an official Special Protected Area (SPA) beside the birds, which have been designated as being of high environmental value.

Conservationists claim the council accepted inadequate and outdated data over the risk to the eagles.

The scheme about two miles outside Stornoway was originally mooted nearly eight years ago but was delayed by outstanding objections by air traffic control and aviation bodies.

On Tuesday the council's planning committee granted planning permission for the scheme which is expected to be fully ratified without any debate by the full council next week.

The development has been approved before but there was concern the turbines would interfere with the radars on Lewis used to track aircraft flying across the Atlantic.

The RSPB slammed the lack of data analysed regarding the risk to the eagles saying the developer only conducted a two month survey instead of the recommended year-long research.

The conservation body’s lawyers are to examine the council's decision.

Martin Scott, Western Isles conservation officer for RSPB Scotland, said: "We are extremely disappointed at this decision, which is clearly based on poor, or completely absent, background information.

“It is an awful irony that such positive steps were made in protecting the Lewis Peatlands SPA from the larger Lewis Windpower proposal, and yet now a smaller development can sneak through and have a negative impact on this fantastic wildlife habitat.

"We will be scrutinising this decision in great detail, as we believe that there were alternatives available to placing this development on an internationally important designated wildlife site.

"A number of years have elapsed since this proposal was openly looked at and discussed and it is hugely disappointing to now witness it being driven through. Much has changed in recent years, but this has not been reflected in the planning process and decision today."
 

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