Largest wind turbines on land proposed for Lewis

Forty-five of turbines currently granted planning permission will be sited in the Eishken area.''This image by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos Photography is taken from Airidh 'a Bhruaich in South Lochs, looking across Upper Loch Seaforth to the hills of Harris.
Forty-five of turbines currently granted planning permission will be sited in the Eishken area.''This image by Sandie Maciver of SandiePhotos Photography is taken from Airidh 'a Bhruaich in South Lochs, looking across Upper Loch Seaforth to the hills of Harris.

Energy giant EDF is living up to its name as it has been revealed that the power multi-national, through partner ‘Lewis Wind Power’, is considering increasing the size of its turbines to be located in Lewis.

The turbines would be up to 200 metres tall – far higher than the original proposals which have planning consent for turbines up to 150 metres - the 200m structures would be the tallest that exist on land in Scotland.

EDF, as part of ‘Lewis Wind Power’ with project partners Wood Group, have planning permission for 91 turbines in Lewis.

Of these, 45 turbines are approved for their Uisenis Wind Farm, which is due to be built on the Eishken Estate and approaches the border of the South Lewis, Harris and North Uist National Scenic Area.

The other 36 turbines would be sited in the Stornoway general area of mainly common grazings land out on the Pentland Road. This Stornoway Wind Farm is already controversial, being the subject of more than 200 objections to the Scottish Land Court.

In a statement released about the proposed changes, Lewis Wind Power said that they were “in in the very early stages of exploring potential changes to its proposed wind farms at Stornoway and Uisenis”.

The company explained that these initiatives are intended to make sure that the company looks at all the potential ways to boost the projects’ chances of winning future auctions for low carbon electricity.

Original project consents remain in place, but two additional options are being explored:

The first option would be to keep all aspects of the existing layouts and planning consents, but to seek a variation to allow the project to use larger generators within each of the wind turbines.

The second option is to seek a fresh planning consent for larger turbines and a revised layout. This may mean fewer turbines being built but may also lead to an overall increase in installed capacity.

Taller turbines may mean greater efficiency:

The company is considering turbines of up to 200m at Uisenis, up from 150m at present and all the same size.

At Stornoway the company will be assessing the potential for tip heights of up to 187m on some turbines, an increase on the 145m models outlined in the current consent, with smaller turbines closer to the town.

The two projects currently make up almost 90% of the consented wind projects in development on Lewis, making them central to the business case for the new grid connection to the mainland, which is required before any additional renewables schemes can be built on the island.

The process for the new proposals began yesterday (Monday) with a meeting led by the Scottish Government’s energy consents unit at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, with representatives from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, LWP, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Scottish Government.

Project Manager for Lewis Wind Power, Will Collins, said: “The benefits from developing and exporting wind power from Lewis will only become a reality if island projects win contracts in a competitive auction for low carbon electricity.

“It’s therefore important that we look at all the options before deciding what we think gives the two wind farms the best possible chance of success.

“If we do reach the stage of considering fresh planning applications then we will be actively seeking the thoughts and views of local residents and stakeholders at a series of exhibitions and through a wider consultation process.”

Local reaction to the story has been highlighted by the Hebrides Writer blog (www.hebrideswriter.com) written by journalist Katie Laing.