A £200million windfarm hailed as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” for Lewis, was given the go-ahead from the Scottish Government yesterday.
Lewis Wind Power has been allowed to build 36 turbines on land either side of Bennadrove Road, a popular tourist route near Stornoway. It will generate enough electricity to power 90,000 homes and is estimated to generate £48million and more than 300 jobs during the construction phase alone.
The original application had 42 turbines, but the RSPB and Scottish Natural Heritage raised concerns about the impact on the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area. The developer worked with groups to find a solution and Energy Minister Fergus Ewing withheld consent for the six turbines which would impact most on the area.
A community trust will also be set up through the Stornoway Trust which will enable residents to decide how best to use the benefits from the development.
Ron Peddie, project director for Lewis Wind Power, said: “From the very beginning we have sought to develop a windfarm based on the wishes of the local community.
“The development team is particularly pleased by the support shown by the public throughout the consultation process and we are confident that they will be pleased when the final windfarm is constructed.
“The investment represented by the Stornoway Wind Farm is significant and wherever possible we will seek to use the local supply chain to maximise the social and economic benefits for the islanders.”
Murdo Murray, chairman of the Stornoway Trust, said: “We have long believed in the potential for a significant windfarm to be built on its land and we believe this project realises these ambitions. The development of this windfarm and wider renewables on the Western Isles are a once in a lifetime opportunity for our community.”
Leader of Western Isles Council, councillor Angus Campbell, said the development was “exciting news” for the Outer Hebrides. The Stornoway Wind Farm will provide a multi-million pound cash investment into the economy of the islands, providing much-needed employment while contributing to the fight against climate change.”
The news was also welcomed by SNP MSP Alasdair Allan and the RSPB, who said it would be working with developers to ensure impact on wildlife would be minimal.