Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) have withdrawn their objections to the Stornoway Wind Farm project.
SNH say they have been working with developers who have agreed to reduce the number of turbines from 42 to 36 to safeguard the Special Protection Area (SPA).
The original concerns were in relation to possible impacts on golden eagles and red-throated divers in the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area.
David Maclennan, SNH area manager in the Outer Hebrides, confirmed SNH has no outstanding concerns about the development.
He added: “We have worked closely with Lewis Wind Power and Stornoway Trust, our aim being to help them find a solution that meets their requirements whilst safeguarding the eagles and divers in the Lewis Peatlands SPA. Now that the most sensitive turbines have been removed from the proposal, we’re confident the risks to the SPA have been addressed. We very much welcome the close working arrangement we have had with Lewis Wind Power throughout this process. They have taken on board our concerns and have been very keen from the outset to do what they could to address them.”
He added: “Scotland has huge potential in renewable energy and it should be possible to achieve targets whilst making sure the impacts on nature and landscape are sustainable. The challenge is to make sure the right developments happen in the right places.”
Stuart Housden, Director of RSPB Scotland said: “Although we are disappointed that risks to golden eagles and red-throated divers have not been reduced further, when compared with previous proposals for large scale wind power schemes in north Lewis, the Stornoway wind farm as now proposed represents a welcome improvement, and we acknowledge the efforts made by Lewis Wind Power in this regard.
“The challenge now is to ensure that the construction and operational impacts are minimised, and that the development is thoroughly monitored, so that any eagle displacement or collision is discovered, and urgent remedial action taken. We look forward to working with the developer and our partners in the statutory sector in order to help achieve this.”Lewis Wind Power project director Ron Peddie said: “We welcome the decisions by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and RSPB to withdraw their objections to the Stornoway Wind Farm. We have been working hard with SNH, RSPB and other consultees in order to address their concerns. Throughout the Environmental Impact Assessment process we have made every effort to minimise adverse impacts that the project may have on species such as the golden eagle and red throated diver. In order to meet these concerns we have taken the decision to reduce the number of turbines from 42 to 36, removing the turbines of greatest concern to them. We would like to thank both SNH and RSPB for the constructive dialogue throughout this process. The positive benefits to the environment from the wind farm remain significant - enough to generate the electricity needs of 90,000 homes and save about 250,000 tonnes of CO² per year.”