RSPB Scotland has today taken the unusual step of issuing an objection to a windfarm proposal that it hopes to be able to drop if the applicant meets a few small conditions.
Lewis Wind Power, a joint venture between AMEC and EDF Energy, has applied to build a 42-turbine wind farm to the west of Stornoway on the Western Isles.
The applicant has made considerable efforts to find a site that is suitable for a wind farm, recognising that the Western Isles are of exceptionally high nature conservation interest.
But due to unresolved concerns about the possible effects of the scheme on golden eagles - a species for which the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area (SPA) immediately next to the proposed development is designated - the conservation charity still has some concerns.
In particular the site could lead to the loss of golden eagles through collision or displacement. Black-throated diver, an even rarer UK breeding species, may also be adversely impacted.
A spokesman for RSPB Scotland said: “The exceptional importance of the Western Isles for breeding birds means that any proposals which may threaten them deserve very close scrutiny. We have been unable to verify the applicant’s assessment of the impacts of proposals using information in the environmental statement, so we have requested additional information from the developer, but this has not yet been forthcoming.
“It is likely that this concern could be resolved, subject to a detailed examination of the data we require. We have indicated that we believe a windfarm could be located here, provided a few of the turbines posing the biggest risk are either relocated or removed, and a thorough reassessment of the remaining impact shows them to be within acceptable limits.”
The spokesman added: “At present RSPB Scotland objects to the proposals, but we hope to be able to reconsider that objection soon in the event of relatively minor changes to layout and a reassessment of the impacts.”