Bird charity 'could drop objection to wind farm'

A CONSERVATION charity said it could drop an objection to a wind farm if concerns over its effect on golden eagles are met.

In an unusual move, RSPB Scotland said it is objecting to the proposed 42-turbine development near Stornoway but hopes to reconsider if small changes can be made.

Lewis Wind Power, a joint venture between AMEC and EDF Energy, has applied to build the wind farm to the west of Stornoway. The project, which needs the consent of the Scottish Government, is being developed with community body the Stornoway Trust and could produce up to 151Mw of energy.

RSPB Scotland concedes the developer has made considerable efforts to find a suitable site, recognising the Western Isles' exceptional nature conservation interest. But the charity says the project could lead to the loss of golden eagles through collision or displacement, while the even rarer black-throated diver may also be affected.

An RSPB Scotland spokesman said: "We have been unable to verify the applicant's assessment of the impacts of proposals using information in the environmental statement, so we have requested additional information from the developer, but this has not yet been forthcoming.

"It is likely that this concern could be resolved. We have indicated that we believe a windfarm could be located here, provided a few of the turbines posing the biggest risk are either relocated or removed, and a thorough reassessment of the remaining impact shows them to be within acceptable limits."

The wind farm could create nearly 800 jobs during construction and play a pivotal role in making a case for a subsea interconnector between the islands and the mainland.

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