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Lewis windfarm plans could be stalled by Euro ruling

The Scottish Government refused permission for the 14 turbine windfarm at Stacain by Inverary because it could threaten golden eagles.

Lewis windfarm plans could be stalled by Euro ruling

A European court judgement which halted a windfarm in Argyll could stall plans for two giant windfarms on Lewis.

The Scottish Government refused permission for the 14 turbine windfarm at Stacain by Inverary because it could threaten golden eagles.

The refusal was based on a European court judgement which found that as Stacain has golden eagles present - meaning it qualifies for strict legal environmental protection even though the site has not received official conservation status.

A solicitor for Western Isles Council is examining the Stacain case to assess the potential impact of the judgement on two proposed wind farms in South Lochs on Lewis.

The ruling could devastate the council's aspirations to see giant windfarms built on the island, and could stall or even stop the two outstanding planning applications for the both the Eishken and neighbouring Pairc wind farm applications on Lewis.

A report into the Stacian case suggests that even the possibility of the site becoming a special protection area (SPA) should trigger a stricter habitats assessments procedure which includes a test to see if building a wind farm is in the over-riding public interest.

Both proposed sites on Lewis host far larger numbers of golden and sea eagles than the rejected site at Stacain.

Golden eagles occur at one of the highest recorded densities in the world in the South Lochs area in addition to other raptor species, divers and moorland wading species.

The neighbouring Eishken and Pairc schemes have a combined eagle collision risk of 38 while the rejected Stacain development has only 2.88.

Until now, the absence of any environmental designations on the South Lochs moorland has greatly eased the planning process for two the proposed wind schemes.

But if planning permission is granted, the European Commission could now stall the go-ahead.

Western Isles Council has already approved Beinn Mhor Power's £120million plans to build 39 turbines, each 145 metre high, at Eishken.

The latest scheme had been revised after a public inquiry last summer.

The council also strongly backs Scottish and Southern Energy proposal to erect 26 machines in the £108 million Pairc scheme next door.

In addition the Isle's authority has awarded full planning permission to an 11 turbine scheme on mountains on the Eishken estate.
 

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