Eisgein Wind Farm, Lewis

Tagged with: Casework status: Closed Casework type: Energy Site designations: SPA
Golden eagle adult flying in the Cairngorms

Overview

We oppose windfarm proposals at Eisgein, Lewis which threaten an important population of golden eagles and are likely to slow the spread of white-tailed eagles.

We have objected to several applications for windfarm development here, which would have an unacceptable impact on important bird populations and especially on one of Europe's densest breeding populations of golden eagle. 

Despite this, Western Isles Council consented a 13-turbine scheme and the Scottish Government approved 33 turbines of 39 applied for in an overlapping proposal, for the ‘Muaitheabhal Wind Farm’. A subsequent application for six additional turbines was also consented. We also objected to another application (‘Muaitheabhal South Extension’), originally for 12, now reduced to six, additional turbines to the south of those already consented. The Scottish Government has now consented those six additional turbines. Development is being held up by the need to overcome planning and financial hurdles for electricity transmission to the Scottish Mainland.

Cumulative impacts on golden eagles, white-tailed eagles and other protected species, which may arise from other, large-scale applications on the Western Isles, are also of concern.

Map

Why is it worth fighting for?

This site has an outstanding level of usage by golden eagles and our principal concern is that bird collisions with turbines and displacement will be sufficiently frequent that they will have a long-term impact on the level of the Scottish population.

The most recent 12-turbine scheme alone was predicted to lead to four golden eagle and eight white-tailed eagle collisions and with ten of the turbines sited within 1.5 km of golden eagle nest sites, disturbance will impair breeding success or even cause abandonment. Even though only six of these turbines have been consented, collisions will be additional to the applicant’s prediction, for the consented 39-turbine scheme, that there would be 6.2 adult collisions over its 25-year lifetime with an additional 2.5 sub-adults killed, although we believe these to be under-estimates.

Unlike most of the rest of Scotland, the Western Isles golden eagle population has been expanding with a high survival rate of immature and adults.

We are particularly concerned that there is still no comprehensive and reliable evaluation of the cumulative impacts of the various wind farms proposed for the Western isles.

Our position

We objected to a 16-turbine scheme here (known as Feiriosbhal) but Western Isles councillors consented only 13 turbines. Next, we objected to a 39-turbine scheme known as Muaitheabhal.

The Scottish Government consented 33 of these turbines, refusing six in the west but the developer applied for and gained consent for six replacement turbines to the east. 

We have also objected to a 12-turbine extension to the south, and are disappointed that the Scottish Government has granted consent for 6 of these turbines.

None of these proposals, or those for the neighbouring Pairc site, are located on a statutorily designated nature conservation site, unlike the 181-turbine proposal by Lewis Wind Power which was refused consent by the Scottish Government. However, both the Eisgein and Pairc proposals may have a significant impact on golden and white-tailed eagles and other protected species.

Golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos adult male sitting in heather, Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

Outcome

In September 2015, the Scottish Government granted consent for 6 of the turbines at Muaitheabhal South Extension, and withheld consent for the other 6 turbines originally proposed in the extension scheme. 

Black-throated diver Gavia arctica, adult in breeding plumage taking off from water, Forsinard Flows RSPB reserve, Sutherland, Scotland

Timeline

  • September 2015
    The Scottish Government grants consent for six of the twelve turbines at Muaitheabhal South Extension

  • November 2013
    Western Isles Council resolves not to object to reduced, six-turbine proposal

  • October 2013
    SNH objects to proposal unless six turbines are deleted

  • July 2013
    We object to 12 turbine scheme to the south (Muaitheabhal South Extension)

  • December 2011
    The Scottish Government consented six additional turbines to the east

  • January 2010
    Scottish Government consents only 33 turbines of the 39-turbine scheme, omitting six turbines to the west

  • September 2009
    We object to a 39-turbine scheme

  • Jul 2008
    Western Isles Council consents only 13 turbines of the 16-turbine scheme

  • Nov 2007
    We object to a 16-turbine scheme

  • May 2007
    Scottish Government holds a public local inquiry into the 53-turbine scheme

  • May 2006
    We maintain our objection to the revised 53-turbine scheme

  • March 2005
    We object to 133-turbine scheme