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Stornoway Wind Farm: RSPB Scotland and SNH withdraw objections

image captionRSPB Scotland has withdrawn its objection, but still has concerns for golden eagles and other birds

RSPB Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) have withdrawn objections to plans for a major wind farm on the Western Isles.

It follows the developers' decision to reduce the number of turbines for the Stornoway Wind Farm from 42 to 36.

Lewis Wind Power, a joint venture involving Amec, EDF Energy and the Stornoway Trust, is behind the project.

Amec was previously involved in a bid for a 181-turbine wind farm on Lewis, which was refused permission in 2008.

Lewis Wind Power said it welcomed the decisions made by RSPB Scotland and SNH.

'Remedial action'

RSPB Scotland had concerns that a new 42-turbine project would threaten golden eagle and red throated diver habitats.

SNH had similar worries and warned the scheme would impact on the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area.

Their objections have been withdrawn following Lewis Wind Power's decision to scale down the plans.

Stuart Housden, director of RSPB Scotland, said the smaller wind farm was an improvement, but added that the charity still had concerns.

He said: "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."

Golden eagles

Lewis Wind Power project director Ron Peddie said the joint venture had worked hard to address concerns about the farm, which could supply electricity to 90,000 homes.

He added: "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."

RSPB Scotland remains opposed to plans to expand a proposed 39-turbine development on Eisgein Estate on Lewis by 30 turbines.

The area has one of the highest densities of golden eagles in Europe.

Estate owner Nick Oppenheim said the extension would secure 150 jobs.

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