We have objected to an application by Lewis Wind Power for a wind farm to the south west of Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. We think that the current proposal would have an unacceptable impact on nationally important populations of red-throated diver, hen harrier, white-tailed eagle and golden eagle on Lewis. The proposal is also adjacent to the Lewis Peatland Special Protection Area with impacts predicted for the red-throated divers and golden eagles using this area.
The applicant is required to calculate how many birds are predicted to be killed through collisions with the turbine blades. These calculations have predicted that 4 hen harriers, 10 red-throated divers and 16 white-tailed eagles and 8 golden eagles would be killed by this windfarm alone over 25 years. When considered in combination with other wind farms in the area, the impacts would be even greater and would affect future populations of these bird species over a large area. The turbines and roads would also cause disturbance to red-throated diver and hen harrier as some are proposed very close to nest and roost sites.
The current proposal is for the same site on which a 36 turbine windfarm was granted consent in 2012. Compared to the 2012 scheme, the new proposal has a different layout with taller turbines (180m to tip) capable of generating more electricity. RSPB Scotland withdrew our objection to the old scheme in 2012 after six turbines, which were likely to have the greatest collision risk for golden eagle, were removed. You can read about our work on this case here. We knew then that the site was very sensitive and it would be a challenge to develop due to the protected birds on and near the site, but a lot has changed on the site since 2012.
The predicted impacts from the new proposal on birds are much greater than those predicted for the consented scheme. More birds are using the site, the layout has changed and the proposed turbines are larger. The current application was made in 2019 for 35 turbines, but the applicant has since removed two of the turbines, acknowledging these would have a particularly bad impact on nesting red throated divers and foraging golden eagles on the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area. They have also carried out more assessment on the likely impacts on golden eagles and provided more information on how they would avoid disturbance to birds during construction. However, these changes do not go far enough and further turbine removal is required.