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United Kingdom

Irish peat slide fall-out affects application for Skye 47 MW

The fall-out from a peat slide in Ireland triggered by construction of a wind farm has led Scottish planners to reconsider an application for a 47 MW wind project on Skye over two years after granting consent. Risk to golden eagles from the turbines is another issue, says Highland Council planning director John Rennilson. AMEC Wind's application for 27 turbines at Edinbane was approved in November 2002. But a peat slide in 2003 during the construction of Derrybrien wind farm resulted in the European Commission deciding to take legal action against the Irish government for failing to protect the environment under EU law. And in 2004 the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds presented the council with new information about the risk faced by golden eagles. The project has caused division and resentment in the local community, although the majority of locals appear to support it. Opponents include the articulate and media savvy Sir Jeremy Isaacs, formerly chief of Channel 4 television and the Royal Opera House, who has a holiday home on the island. Rennilson is concerned that any legal loopholes could lead to legal action against Highland Council. The legal consent with AMEC has yet to be signed so the council is required to consider all material relating to the application. AMEC says it is appointing an independent consulting engineer to provide a peat stability assessment. It has also been monitoring golden eagle activity at the site since the start of 2005. The council will publish the new information and invite public comment before taking a fresh decision, says Rennilson.

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