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European Wind Colossus

Application By Amec And British Energy To Build Europe`s Largest Wind Farm On The Isle Of Lewis

An application has been submitted by the consortium Amec/British Energy for an industrial wind farm on the North Lewis Peatlands SPA. We believe the proposal will have a damaging impact on a huge number of important bird populations including Golden Eagle, Black-throated Diver, Red-throated Diver, Dunlin, Merlin and Greenshank. The Western Isles are also one of Britain`s areas of outstanding natural beauty.The Isle of Lewis Development Proposal

The proposal by Amec and British Energy is for a 234 turbine, 702MW wind farm on the Isle of Lewis in the Western Isles of Scotland. The turbines will be 140m high to the tip of the blade and be supported by a large concrete foundation (approximately 22mx22mx1.5m). The application also includes 167km of roads, nine electrical substations, a control building, nine wind monitoring masts, 210 pylons supporting a network of overhead lines, five rock quarries, eight temporary compounds and four concrete batching plants. All this will take roughly three years to build.Impacts on Birds

The Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area (SPA) was classified under the European Council Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds (79/409/EEC); the site encompasses an area of 58,984 hectares. The qualifying species are:

* Red-throated Diver 80 pairs (9% British breeding population)
* Black-throated Diver 13 pairs (8% British breeding population)
* Golden Eagle 5 pairs (1% British breeding population)
* Merlin 20 pairs (1% British breeding population)
* Golden Plover 1800 pairs (8% British breeding population)
* Dunlin 3400 pairs (37% British breeding population)
* Greenshank 140 pairs (10% British breeding population)Of all the British SPAs, this has the largest population of Golden Plover at the highest densities; it also has the largest population of dunlin. It is almost certainly the `best` site in Europe in terms of Golden Plover and Dunlin.

The developers have attempted to define `critical` areas within the SPA by identifying those areas most frequently used by Red-throated Diver, Black-throated Diver, Golden Eagle and Merlin ? it is not possible to do so for Golden Plover and Dunlin because they occur in such high densities across the entire survey area.The Environmental Statement (ES)

produced by the developer states that:
* 50 Golden Eagles; and
* 16 Red-throated Divers
are at risk of (fatal) collision with the development throughout its 25-year lifetime.

The ES also concludes that:
* 352 Golden Plover territories; and
* 314 Dunlin territories could be displaced during the operation of the wind farm, hundreds more will be affected during construction.
* Merlin, Greenshank, Whooper Swans, Greylag Geese and Corncrakes may also be affected by displacement, disturbance or collision. The ES clearly accepts that for many of the species the level of uncertainty is simply to high too reach any confident conclusions regarding impacts. It is known, for example, that large numbers of Whooper Swans regularly migrate over north Lewis and may be at risk of collision. Such a high level of anticipated risk, combined with such high levels of uncertainty, is unacceptable in an internationally important site.

The ES concludes that 577hectares of SPA habitat will be lost or disturbed including 152ha of active blanket bog, a priority habitat under the EC Habitats Directive.The Process

Because this development will affect a European site, the Scottish Executive are required to consider a series of legal tests as set down in Article 6 of the EC Directive on The Conservation of Natural Habitats and Wild Fauna and Flora (EC Directive 92/43/EEC ? The Habitats Directive) before consent can be issued. Proact believes that the proposal will have a significant and adverse effect on the integrity of the site (Test 1). If the Executive agrees, they must then consider whether there are any alternative solutions to this proposal ? including other locations or technologies (Test 2). They must also consider whether there are `imperative reasons of overriding public interest` which justify allowing such a development (Test 3). The success of the Amec/British Energy application would set a damaging precedent for all internationally important sites. We need to make the Scottish Executive aware that this application is subject to the widest possible scrutiny. We have therefore initiated a campaign in order to organise and channel environmental opposition to the project at
http://www.proact-campaigns.net/windfarmsandbirds/amec_and_lewis.html
Join us in our campaign to persuade the Scottish Executive to stop this application and submit it to thorough and open scrutiny

David Conlin
International Coordinator Proact International

4th July 2014