The Government caves in to concerns about birds, habitats and 11,000 voters to throw out Amec and British Energy plans for one of Europe's largest planned schemes

The Scottish Executive has refused to give planning consent to one of Europe’s largest wind farms because it would imperil the sensitive local habitat.

Developer Lewis Wind Power’s (LWP)181-turbine scheme was planned for the Isle of Lewis in the Western Isles, to the north west of the Scottish mainland. It would have provided 650 MVW of power. While the island’s authority backed the proposal, the scheme had received 11,000 objections from local inhabitants.

Scottish Energy Minister, Jim Mather, said the scheme would have had a serious impact on the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection area, covered by the EC Birds and Habitats Directives.

He added that the Executive remained behind renewable energy commitments and did not rule out onshore wind farms on Lewis altogether. "I strongly believe the vast renewables potential needs to be exploited to ensure that the opportunities and benefits of new development can be shared across the country in an equitable fashion."

"Bitterly Disappointed"

The "bitterly disappointed" developer said the scheme, a joint venture between Amec and British Energy, would have provided jobs and given a much-needed edge to the local economy. “The economic benefits included the creation of around 400 local jobs, 680 jobs across Scotland, during the construction process, as well as providing much needed investment to the Arnish yard to make it a global competitor for other projects,” it said in a statement.

A spokesman added that LWP would be considering the Government’s decision before deciding on next steps.

Turbine component manufacturing at Arnish yard, a steelworks, in Stornoway, Lewis, was restarted in 2004 after receiving a multimillion pound package from public and private sources.