Energy Minister Jim Mather has approved plans to construct an 118MW wind farm at Muaitheabhal in the Western Isles. The wind farm will comprise 33 turbines and will provide enough green electricity to power 55,000 homes.
The project has been developed by Lewis Wind Power (a partnership between AMEC and British Energy) and is expected to create around 150 construction jobs, with further permanent jobs becoming available when the development is fully operational.
David Hodkinson, Lewis Wind Power director, said: “We warmly welcome the Council’s decision to support the wind farm, which we believe will play a vital role in establishing the Western Isles as Europe’s leading centre for renewable energy, not least by reinforcing the urgent need for the proposed large scale connection to the national grid to support this aspiration.
“The scale and sensitivity of the proposal has been reflected in the thoroughness of the Council’s appraisal of the scheme, which included a public hearing. We are pleased that, in reaching what was clearly a very difficult decision, councillors recognised the significant long term social and economic contribution the proposal would make to the Western Isles.”
The Scottish Government is committed to promoting the increased use of renewable energy sources and has set clear targets for renewable electricity.
The Government now aims to generate the equivalent of 100% of Scotland’s gross annual electricity consumption from renewable energy sources by 2020. In addition, a target has been set for renewable sources to provide the equivalent of 11% of Scotland’s heat demand by 2020.
Generating renewable electricity helps to reduce carbon emissions, which is important for tackling climate change. The Scottish Government’s Climate Change Act, which came into force in June, sets a target of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050, including emissions from international aviation and shipping. It also sets a world-leading interim target for a 42% cut in emissions by 2020.
Energy Minister, James Mather, said: “Since the first proposals for a wind farm on Lewis were put forward, I have maintained that the Western Isles must be able to play its part in harnessing and benefitting from our vast green energy potential. Today, we are making that reality.
“I am delighted that the application was able to be approved, bringing as it does substantial economic and community benefits to the island. The development will use local companies and local labour and the community will receive a slice of profits for as long as the wind blows and the turbine turn.
“The scheme will create around 150 full time equivalent construction jobs and has potential to support existing businesses, create new businesses and offer new possibilities for the Arnish Point facility. It also provides a stimulus for the provision of a grid interconnector to the mainland.
“In consenting this application I have put in place a series of conditions to protect the outstanding natural habitats and landscapes, improve transport and minimise disturbance to communities.
“The study the Scottish Government published last January showed that there could be further renewable energy development in the Western Isles. This could just be the start.”