Tuesday, 21 December 2004

Plans To Turn The Isle Of Lewis, Scotland, Into The Biggest Wind Farm In The World

One of WLT's supporters, Deborah Kilner, asked for the following to be circulated as widely as possible:

Lewis Wind Power, aka AMEC & British Energy, recently submitted an application for the world's largest wind farm which will be built mostly on the Lewis Peatlands on the Isle of Lewis, Western Isles.

The application is for 234 turbines at a height of 140 metres (about the same height as a 40 storey building) and which will be visible for anything up to 30 miles and over. In addition to the turbines, 210 pylons will be erected and 104 miles of access roads built across active peat bog.

In order to facilitate such a monumental building plan, quarries will be constructed as well as concrete batching plants. The building phase is likely to last four years and the main and only road from Barvas to Ness will be used on a daily basis by HGV vehicles - many of the Lewis roads are built straight onto peat and are currently in poor condition.

There are many issues, including environmental and cultural, to be considered with this proposal and these are as follows:

The Site Itself - Peatlands

"Active peatlands act as both carbon sink and store and have an important role in regulating climate change. Wetlands, including bogs, store over three times as much carbon for a given area as tropical rainforest. When peatlands are disturbed, CO2 is returned to atmosphere. The ecological value of peatland is recognised internationally and there is strong guidance towards preserving and restoring bogs."

(Extracted from www.mwtlewis.org.uk where you can gain more information about the proposals).

The Lewis Peatlands have several international site designations - as a RAMSAR (Wetlands of International Importance), SPA (Special Protection Area - the Birds Directive), SAC (Special Area of Conservation - the Habitats Directive) and an IBA (Important Bird Area - the Berne Convention), in addition to SSSIs.

Birds At Risk

Golden Eagles, Golden Plovers and Divers are identified by the EU's Berne Convention as being at risk from turbines. Also present in large numbers are gannets, shags, herons, geese, swans and White-tailed Sea Eagles.

20% of Scotland's eagle population currently reside in the Isle of Lewis - but for how much longer?


The Western Isles is heavily dependent on tourism for income and currently circa 180,000 tourists visit the islands every year - how many of these people will continue to visit once the island has been turned into a wind factory is debatable.

The People

The majority of the community, where this wind farm is planned, do not want this huge scheme to go ahead and are currently fighting AMEC/British Energy, their own Council and their MPs.

It is ironic that recently the Mendip Hills faced the possibility of ONE wind turbine being erected - public outrage ensued and the application was turned down.

A community group called Moorland without Turbines is currently fighting not only the Lewis Wind Farm, but planning applications for Eishken and Pairc which, if approval was given, would mean that there would be over 500 wind turbines covering a very small island.

If you are interested or concerned about these plans, please visit www.mwtlewis.org.uk where you will find more information.

Deborah Kilner


  1. 100% of the population are to be denied job oppertunity for a few birds?? get a life

  2. Its spelt opportunity, learn to spell, you pathetic creature.

  3. It's actually a classic issue this one. Green power, providing solid opportunity for the island's economy but with a cost to birds and marshland (and perhaps tourists - but given the economic lift caused by the wind farm this perhaps is not a strong argument). I actually don't know exactly how I feel on this issue - I certainly can see both arguments. Finally I suspect I think the human life of the islands is more important given the depopulation of the islands. Therefore, currently I am inclined to go with the windfarm being built but with horrendous environmental conditions imposed.

  4. The employment opportunities available for the locals, should the wind farms be built, would not give 100% of the population work. Most of the work would go to the developers' employees. How much work has been guaranteed for the locals after the wind farms have been built? Tourism will probably be reduced to nothing and all the people dependent on tourism will lose out. If the peatbogs are damaged and CO2 is released into the atmosphere, there could be more global warming. Sometimes man interferes too much with nature. God knew what He was doing when He created Planet Earth and those peatbogs were created for a purpose.

  5. I live on the isle of lewis. The population here do not want the industrial scale development proposed but instead have put forward proposals for small community based projects which won't harm the enviroment and will generate electricity for local people selling the small excess to the mainland for profit. The council however has been working with the developer for four years on this huge project and is too billigerant and biggoted to listen to it's own poulation. So now despite the largest number of objections ever lodged against any planning process in the history of Scottish Planning we are down to our last chance, the Scottish Executive who have the final say.

    Here are a few facts you might not have picked up on. This project will be built on Peat bog a wonderful natural carbon sink. In so doing stored carbon dioxide will be released into the air this plus the carbon generated in the making and installation of these turbines will take over seventeen years to pay back. The lifespan of the project is 25 years. When you add in the fact that every drop of electricity is being exported to southern england and in the process will lose 25% through heat loss you begin to wonder just why the thigs are ever being considered. Well the reason is money pure and simple that and targets set by Goverment. How easy to hit those targets when big business will build hundreds of these things in one go (given the right subsidy).

    If you really want to talk green get rid of big business subsidy and encourage the individual and or local community to own their own.

    As regards depopulation this is a myth. There has never been more new builds going up in Lewis as there is now. I can see six from my house and it's the same all over. The price of houses here has rocketed over the last five years.

    Employment. Yes for a few but we don't have 350 out of work construction workers on the island. 560 unemployed throughout the Western Isles and most of those (my neighbour works in the local job centre) by choice /or so she says.

    Listen our weather is lousy. The ferrys are often cancelled and when they are there is no food in the shops. Our bins are only collected once every two weeks. Getting on and off the island costs a fortune. To make matters worse the council are bigotted religious zealots who believe that Darwin was a crack pot and the devil incarnate. So why do we put up with this. Because we live in one of the most stunning parts of Europe. A completely unspoilt wilderness with stunning beaches and mountain landscapes. Landscapes where 5000 year old standing stones provide the back drop for Golden Eagles swooping down on prey in front of your very eyes. Where Lochs provide the perfect enviroment for Salmon and Trout. No, listen if you want these things fine have them but keep your grubby money making paws off our island. And if you want to see depopulation for real, build them here. Gavin

  6. I grew up on the Isle of Lewis, own a home there and had hoped to return there to live by now. The proposed wind farm has forced me to pause and re-evaluate my plan. If I live there i will be unable to leave my home without passing through a forest of windmills of unimaginable proportions. The place, as I know it, will be unrecognisable - it will be like living in the middle of an industrial installation.
    My experience with employment generated by large-scale highly technical projects such as this has been that a flurry of low skill, low-paid jobs are available to the local labour force for a short period of time. Once the construction phase is over, a handful of highly skilled individuals continue to be employed. Take a look at the labour market demographics in Lewis - sustained employment oppoprtunities for the masses will not be there.
    As far as contributing to renewable energy targets, a smoke and mirrors operation if ever I saw one, and, more important, making an impact on global warming- dream on. This project will release so much carbon into the atmosphere, it will take 17 years to catch up.
    How many of you individuals in the UK are willing to sacrifice your heritage, your stunning landscapes, your wildlife and your viable existing economic opportunites so that the UK government can pat itself on the back while preening across the globe - meanwhile the energy powers the south of England. Talk about rape and pillage....

  7. This is one of those situations where ironically its the "city liberals" who are into all things "green" who impose their interpretation of local needs onto local people. At a distance they perpetuate the idea that local people will get jobs from the development and this is the justification for it. It's as bad as the worst ignorant incomers to a rural area who impose there ideas on the local population. Actually many "indigenous" local people in rural areas oppose wind farms. We are not backward morons chewing grass, we do understand that this will destroy jobs and is a ridiculously inefficient method of power generation the construction of which will release more Co2 than it saves!

  8. This proposal is outragous. To spoil an area of outstanding natural beauty is unthinkable and beyond comprehension.
    people do not own any land - they are custodians of it, and as such, must treat the land with respect in order to leave our children a legacy, a legacy founded on respect, not only for the land, but for one another.
    I am totally opposed to such a plan as this.
    People must lead by example and not by bigotry blighted by profit.
    All of you who live and love the Isle, if you do not stand up and oppose this proposal, will only have yourselves to blame, when the Island is destroyed by commercialism.
    Try blaming God then.

  9. Myself and my family are currently considering moving to the Isle of Lewis and have only recently found out about the wind farm proposals.

    I am not opposed to a few wind turbines on my doorstep, but to have them on such a large scale as that proposed for such a small, beautiful island is outrageous. How can the Western Isles Council have given their support to such a proposal. Maybe they have been spoilt, and take their beautiful landscape for granted and no longer appreciate it!

    If I felt that the development would bring the islanders much needed income then I would possibly see this in a different light, but from what I have read, this does not appear to be the case.

    We are now reconsidering our options and may well not relocate to the island afterall. We are a young family wanting to bring something to the island and to embrace the way of life on Lewis. If this awful proposal is approved, then Lewis will most certainly see a decline in the number of people born and bred on the island move away to the mainland, in addition to people like myself choosing not to move to the island in the first place.

    Whatever happened to the council trying to improve the declining population problem?!??

  10. to anonymous who said 'forget jobs over a couple of birds - get real' and 'it spells out opportunity, learn to read you pathetic people' well thats a bit pathetic. Yes, it may create more job opportunities, but it is doing the opposite of what it is supposed to be acheiving. It's supposed to help the environment, or at least create more renewable energy, instead it is being allowed to release more CO2 into the atmosphere, (learn to read). If more renewable energy is needed, build it somewhere with less environmentally friendly resoures.

  11. Angela - Cardiff9 January 2007 at 15:23

    On 12th December 2006 the revised proposal for the Lewis Wind Farm was sent to the Scottish Executive. They will now decide whether or not this development will be approved.

    To all the people who are passionately opposed to this windfarm. Please write to the Scottish Executive by Monday 29th January 2007 (this is when the current consultation period ends) to: Consents and Emergency Planning Unit, Scottish Executive, Meridian Court, 5 Cadogan Street, Glasgow G2 6AT or e-mail :energyconsents@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

  12. Countryside Management Student26 February 2007 at 23:52

    What about the principles of Sustainable development via education? Is tourism not an ideal catalyst for this concept?? Why can't these strucures that will form part of the built heritage of tomorrow be integrated in a positive manner? After all climate change is a more important issue for the conservation of such "wonderful islands" purely for tourism...wake up unless we halt the effects of destructive enegy, tourism will be the least of our worries!

  13. I live in North London and I visit the Isle of Lewis at least once a year as a tourist. If the claims made by the government are true that this scheme will produce 25% of all the UK's electricity then it is something to be commended, however, I cannot understand why does this have to be built on the Isle of Lewis? Build 4 times as many turbines off shore in the atlantic, where no one will be disturbed and that will produce 100% of the UK's electricity.
    Off shore turbines produce more power than land based ones, why should we have the beautiful landscape of the Isle of Lewis destroyed unessearily? Build it off shore - surely that is the answer. Sorry to those Lewis inhabitants that will no doubt point out my spelling mistakes, I'm on your side but we simply cannot continue pumping pollution into the air, we are killing the entire planet. If the project does go ahead you will not lose me as a tourist, I don't think the windmills will be visable from the top of Clisham. Richard from Barnet

  14. My wife and i are moving in sept 2007 to the islands to escape the city life and for a better quality of life. This wind farm will cause us to reconsider where we live, as I cannot tolerate C weighted sounds at low and ultra low frequencies - I have to be at least 2 miles from any sound source - this wind farm will really narrow our options. Why not build this out at sea in the atlantic and leave the islands intact and stunningly beautiful, and not some liberal inner city london 'green activists' little environmentally friendly playground ? don't destroy the worlds best carbon sinks i.e. the peat bogs, its a crime against our futures.

  15. My mum is from Barvas and I holiday every year in Barvas.
    Point 1 - the Council wants the turbines but isn't strong enough to demand a guarantee of permanent jobs - 4 years of construction jobs will keep Arnish point and the hotels busy - after that, a few maintenance jobs shows the weakness and short-sightedness of the Council.
    Point 2 - yes, the turbines can go ahead but the "Thames rule" applies - they are built offshore ut-of-sight. If that's too expensive then wind turbines aren't worth it.

  16. I lived on Lewis for 10 years. The Council/Church, (they are both the same thing, the first Western Isles Council was headed by a Church Leader, and ministers sit on every major Council committee up there) are completely unconcerned with environmental issues.

    Look at the state of the land up there, the people have never been taught to respect it. People dump their old used cars on the moors, when a house is renovated, builders rubble and old fittings from the house (including old solid fuel stoves!)are buried in the gardens to avoid the builders having to pay for the disposal. Until very recently, locals used the beautiful beaches up there to dump their rubbish, which is why you rarely see locals out walking on the beaches, they still consider them to be dirty rubbish dumps.

    In 2004, 'Dods' McFarlane, South Dell, Ness and his guga hunters returned and butchered the young gannet birds at Ness Harbour, the next day, Ness beach was strewn the entire length with bird’s heads and wings. (I photographed this and sent the pictures to Scottish National Heritage, though I doubt they did anything about it.)

    A few years ago, two drunken fishermen knocked over a lamp and started the worst moors fire Lewis had ever seen, the moor is still recovering from that.

    Locals don't do things like feed the birds, they don't keep dogs as pets, they keep collies for the sheep, locked in old cars or sheds, not in their houses.

    The local SSPCA officer has admitted to me that he knows some locals still kill their own sheep.

    That is the mentality you are up against.

    They don't care what happens to their island's environment, as long as they can still go to church on Sunday and harass anyone seen outside on a Sunday, even if they are walking or camping.

    Building the wind farm is unlikely to provide job opportunities for locals. The skills required will mean that workers will be brought in from elsewhere. The local college runs a very limited course choice, which at present only extends to skills required on the island such as fishing and roofing. There is little encouragement to gain skills and qualifications in areas that would allow young people to look for work in the rest of the UK or abroad. (As an example of this, my son’s friend told his head teacher that he wanted to be a palaeontologist, hoping to receive some advice or encouragement, instead, the head told him “oh, but you can’t do that here.”)

    As for depopulation and young families wanting to move there. Of course the population is dropping, young people move away (if they can escape the pressure to remain), see what the rest of the country is like, and don't want to return.

    The Council is tackling depopulation; they are forcibly adopting incomer’s children on false pretences to increase the bloodstock on the island (as the local population is so inbred), whilst ignoring genuine abuse committed by locals. This was told to me by a former health worker there, who left after only 3 months when she saw what was going on. (A minister in the Free Church, convicted of molesting a child, was welcomed back into the church by locals, who claimed that "it was just a bit of tickling" - my neighbours comment.)

    All the new houses being built, (comment by Gavin) are being built by wealthy locals who then rent them out as holiday homes or just claim the European subsidies on the land, whether they have sheep or not. A lot of the new build designs are also highly inappropriate for the landscape. For instance, there is one large white house in Carloway, on the top of a hill which has large stone pillars at the front entrance, fine for a town house, but it sticks out like a sore thumb in the moor land. Apart from the fact that it had never been occupied in the 10 years I was there.

    When environmental groups travelled to the island when the wind farm was first proposed and again when the hedgehog cull was begun, my neighbours told me that they should leave, as it was none of their business, coming over and telling locals what to do.

    How do you get through to people like that?

  17. Deborah Kilner has just sent us an update on the proposal, which has now been rejected due to the adverse impacts on the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area a windfarm would have. See Lewis Wind Farm Refused Consent by the Scottish Government