Islay wind farm set back

Wind Prospect's plans for a wind farm on Islay suffered a setback when Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar called for a new public inquiry to re-examine the risk to birds. His decision to reopen the issue comes more than a year after the previous public inquiry resulted in a recommendation to grant approval. The Scottish Secretary's concerns focus on the risks to wintering populations of Greenland white fronted geese. Although the inquiry's report, came down in favour of granting planning consent, he called for an independent assessment of the numbers of potential collisions. "This totally undermines the public inquiry result," says Robin Currie of the local Land Use Forum, which backs the wind farm plans. The assessment supported the facts on numbers of collisions put forward by the objector, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), rather than Wind Prospect's own calculations. But Currie points out that the "independent" assessor was recommended by SNH. The islanders called for the public inquiry to be re-opened so that both sides could again be heard. The 3 MW project at Laggan, on the west coast of the island, commands very strong local support. "It is ironic that we are all behind the project here, while the Secretary of State is approving schemes in other parts of the country where local people are objecting," says Currie.