The largest windfarm in the Europe threatens thousands of birds

Earlier this year Proact and other organisations campaigned against the plan by Farm Energy Ltd to erect six wind turbines on Beinn Mholach inside the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area (SPA), Isle of Lewis, in close proximity to nesting Golden Eagle (site also designated under the RAMSAR Convention). We warned that this would only be the ‘foot in the door’ for more ambitious projects – après moi le Deluge. Nevertheless the Western Isles Council Comhairle nan Eilean Siar approved the application.

The application by Amec (those with more than a passing interest in the detail can follow the links from this page to find more about the proposed development) and British Energy to build 234 wind turbines on the North Lewis Peatlands SPA in the Scottish Western Isles has now been submitted.

The developers proudly present the project as “Europe’s largest wind farm involving the construction of up to 300 wind turbines …. creating at least 600 MW of electrical power”. The Western Isles, which have one of the most beautiful wild landscapes in Britain, would become the ‘renewables capital of Europe’ with more industrialisation in the shape of a turbine and tower manufacturing plant at Arnish Point. What a prospect!

Individuals and conservation organisations believe this will be hugely damaging and that the chosen site is the wrong location for such a major industrial development.

The Environmental Statement (ES) commissioned by Amec states that, in the course of the development’s estimated 25-year lifetime, 50 (!) Golden Eagles Aquila chrysaetos and 16 Red-throated Divers Gavia stellata are at risk of fatally colliding with the wind turbine blades.

The ES also concludes that:

· 352 Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria territories; and
· 314 Dunlin Calidris alpina territories could be displaced during the operation of the wind farm and hundreds more will be affected during construction.
· Merlin Falco columbarius, Greenshank Tringa nebularia, Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus, Greylag Goose Anser anser and Corncrake Crex crex may also be affected by displacement, disturbance or collision.

The RSPB, which has finally decided to object to the Scottish Executive about the proposal, has issued a BirdLife briefing.

The Amec/British Energy application has been submitted to the Scottish Executive for their approval. The deadline for objecting to the proposal is December 13th. This will be not only Europe’s but, at time of posting, the world’s largest wind farm. It is proposed for an area with international conservation designations and, if this is approved, NOWHERE in Scotland will be out of bounds for development! Other countries will not be slow to follow.


Please write to the Scottish Executive, Scotland’s regional governing body, and register your objection to the proposal.

Please write to or send an email to

Ms Lesley Thompson
The Scottish Executive
Consents and Emergency Planning Unit
2nd Floor
Meridian Court
5 Cadogan Street
Glasgow G2 6AT

at the Scottish Executive (SE) with copy to the Western Isles Council (CNES) – link immediately below:

Mail to SE and CNES

In clear:

A draft text is provided below or you can compose your own using the following main points:
Say that you object to Amec/British Energy’s wind farm development application because of the risk to the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection/RAMSAR Area and to the Golden Eagle and
ask for a public inquiry.
(Note: letters that are different, not copies of a model used by other campaigners, have more impact).

The deadline for objections has been lifted and letters or mails may be sent well into March or April 2005



By electronic mail to Ms Lesley Thompson, Scottish Executive

Dear Ms Thompson,

We wish to register an objection to the proposals lodged by Amec and British Energy for a 234-turbine wind farm on the Isle of Lewis in the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area (SPA), Isle of Lewis, Scotland, a site also designated under the RAMSAR Convention.

This consortium has chosen to ignore consistent and repeated advice from concerned individual conservationists and organisations to avoid developing on areas designated for their wildlife value. The proposed wind farm is of a scale, and in a location, where the damage it will do will harm this important area – legally protected for its important birds and rare peatland habitat.

This is part of a network of the very best sites for bird life in Europe, protected under European law. Any proposal for development on any of these EU protected sites has to pass a number of tests, the most fundamental being that any development should not damage the integrity of that site. The other factors which have to be considered are whether there are any alternatives to the proposed location for the development and whether or not there is over-riding public interest in the development going ahead.

We believe that the Amec and British Energy proposal would damage the site, that there are suitable alternatives and that the public have a greater interest in maintaining the moor as a wild place than in allowing industrial development on it. A development on a special site like this should be for the benefit of the environment and our future generations, not to their cost. As for the threat to birds, the Golden Eagle is well known to be highly susceptible to turbine blade strike (more than 1000 eagles have been killed in Altamont, California, over the last 20 years) and there are sufficient other significant threats (e.g.: persecution, poisoning) to the Scottish and European populations. Other bird populations and important habitats are, as you are aware, at risk of destruction or despoilation.

This is a matter which causes grave concern to UK and European conservationists and we join them in requiring that you turn down Amec/British Energy’s application. Failing this, at the very least, we urge you to demonstrate your accountability and initiate urgently a public inquiry.

Yours sincerely,

(Name and address)