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Opinion divided on wind power in Scottish Western Isles

An independent public opinion survey in the Western Isles of Scotland shows that views about proposed large wind farms in the area are equally split. Of 600 residents polled by Ipsos MORI, 41% strongly support or tend to support the principle of major wind farms on Lewis, while 40% strongly oppose or tend to oppose them. The remaining 19% are neutral. The survey was commissioned by Western Isles Development Trust and took place in May. Planning applications for two large wind farms on Lewis have been lodged with the Scottish Executive. AMEC and British Energy hope to resubmit their application for a wind farm at Barvas Moor, reducing the number of turbines from 234 to just less than 190 totalling around 680 MW, while Beinn Mhor Power plans a 53 turbine wind farm totalling 159 MW on the Eisgein estate in the south-east of Lewis. The main reason given by those in support of the projects was that wind is a clean way to generate power, while most of those opposed (58%) gave as their reason that the turbines would spoil the scenery. Archie Campbell, Western Isles Council's chairman of sustainable development, says the public debate has been polarised with strong views on both sides. The close result of the survey runs contrary to the assertion that a large majority is opposed to the proposed wind farms, he says. "We now know that a significant proportion of our residents support the schemes for the positive socio-economic impact they will make in the islands."

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