Wind farm Scotland: Lewis community hits back at proposed windfarm with turbines 'the size of the Eiffel tower'
A proposed offshore wind farm with turbines up to 350m high that would be built near the Isle of Lewis has been slammed by the island’s local community as “horrendous" and “disproportionate”.
Canadian-based Northland Power has presented residents with its plans to build up to 66 turbines just three miles from the island’s west coast.
Residents said they have been told the turbines could reach a towering 350m (1,150ft). To put this in perspective, the Eiffel Tower reaches 330m to the tip. The structure, if given the go ahead on existing plans, would be among the tallest wind turbines in the world.
Across from the proposed site on land are residents of the West Side area of Lewis. They celebrate the area’s unspoilt views, active wildlife, picturesque sunsets and starry nights.
But they are now up in arms about the proposals that, in their words, will “trash” the beauty of their home.
Residents have claimed they were not consulted on the proposed project before plans were shown to them in a string of recent public meetings.
A formal planning application for the 840MW development, named Spiorad na Mara, which translates as “spirit of the sea”, is due to be submitted in 2024, according to the company’s website.
The Western Isles Council said it understands Northland is engaged in surveying work that will influence how they progress with the proposed plans.
John Craig, a resident on the island who built a house with a view of the Atlantic ocean, said the wind farm would be in direct view of his home. "These turbines are being quoted as the size of the Eiffel Tower,” he said.
Mr Craig lives with his wife, Jackie, a Harris Tweed weaver, and they run an old refurbished blackhouse rental. "I have concerns with regards to our health and that of the village as a whole,” he said.
"And I believe the tourist industry on the west side will cease to exist. There will be no income and plunging house prices. People could end up in the poverty trap of ill health and no way to escape it.
"Not only is this an unseemly act by a corporate company, but a direct attack on the cultural and heritage of the island.”
Peigi Ann Shields, a resident who works a local community hub, said: "It was totally thrown on the community. For anyone to say that it’s not going to effect local tourism is living on a different planet. The whole way they market the Western Isles is we have this pristine, untouched environment, teaming with birds and wildlife, with opportunities to see the Northern Lights, and it’s that way because we’ve been looking after it for years.
"But now an international company is coming to trash the place. We are saying goodbye to our night sky.”
Another resident, mother-of-three Sarah MacDonald, who built her family home in the area, said she was “devastated” by the looming plans.
"It seems completely disproportionate,” she said. “True renewable energy is generated as close to where it is needed as possible. There are multiple wind turbine projects on the island that are appropriately sized and sited, owned by the communities and directly benefiting the local people.
"This new proposal is completely inappropriate for the surroundings.”
Local MSP Alasdair Allan said many residents had been “supportive in principle, but want to ensure the west side community benefits directly if the development goes ahead”. He said given Spiorad na Mara’s proximity to shore, “there has to be substantial community benefit offered to communities if the project goes ahead”.
Northland Power has been contacted for comment.
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