Scotland’s Hebridean Isle of Lewis is a beautiful place, noted for its wetland habitats and Golden Eagles. The Standing Stones of Callanish are an ancient monument erected around 3000 years ago, hewn from billion year old rock. By 1857 peat had grown across the site to a height of 6 feet, and was cleared. This is evidence for climate change. When the stones were erected the climate was too dry and warm for peat to grow. By 800 BC peat had been growing for 500 years. Lewis is now a place where evidence of past climate change meets the environmental consequences of concerns over current warming, in the form of wind energy. The UK has only built 200 miles of motorway in the past 10 years, yet hundreds of miles of road could be built on Lewis just to service wind farms.
World Wetlands Day plea to leave Lewis alone
The Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) on World Wetlands Day (Friday 2 February 2007) urged the public to help prevent irreversible damage to one of Scotland’s most important wetland sites. Proposed plans for an industrial scale wind farm on the Isle of Lewis are being considered that will destroy some of the most extensive and intact areas of blanket bog on the planet. Objections to the proposal must be lodged by Monday 5 February 2007. In December 2004, SWT objected to the installation of 234 turbines and construction of 104 miles of road on the Isle of Lewis. Despite huge outcry from environmental organisations and the local community, developers (Lewis Wind Power: British Energy/AMEC) resubmitted plans just before Christmas 2006 (12 December 2006) for 181 wind turbines each 140 metres high and 88 miles of road network on an area designated for its special wildlife. Stuart Brooks, SWT’s Head of Conservation said: “While the Scottish Wildlife Trust supports the use of renewable energy alternatives, this is the last place the Scottish Executive should be considering an application. Lewis is one of the best sites for wildlife in Britain.” “It is not just the wind turbines that are the problem. More lasting environmental impacts will be caused by the infrastructure to support the wind farm such as cabling underground, turbine foundations, roads and electrical substations. Peat takes thousands of years to mature and is an effective mechanism for fixing and storing carbon. If peat bogs are damaged they can release this stored carbon as carbon dioxide adding to global warming.” He continued: “Lewis peatlands has been awarded the highest levels of protection through the Ramsar Convention and European Habitat Regulations. Damaging them in this way contravenes and undermines the legislation set up to protect them. Should this application go ahead, the development will have significant impacts on wildlife particular birds such as the golden plover and the dunlin that breed on the site. On World Wetland Days, we are asking people to support our objection to this proposal by sending an objection letter or email to the Scottish Executive.”
Now more than 700 Lewis crofters face a court battle to keep their land as they fight plans for one of Scotland’s biggest proposed wind farms.
A note from Dina:
The indigenous people of Lewis have a specific and very emotive attachment to their land, which is also the common grazings on which Lewis Wind Power plans to build their 181 monoliths etc. We also now have a third wind farm application on the desks of the Scottish Executive, to add to the LWP scheme, and the Eisgein one for 55 turbines on the Eisgein estate in South Lochs. The Pairc wind farm application has just been submitted by Scottish and Southern Energy, for another 57 gigantic (145 metres) wind turbines, also in South Lochs. There are now applications submitted to planning for around 300 wind turbines on this island, it is an abomination, and an insult to the integrity and honesty of particularly the rural communities of Lewis, who would suffer if any of these projects were consented, but whose voices, united in protest and opposition, have been silenced whenever the officials found it possible to do so. But now the crofters, whose land is required to build the LWP scheme have spoken out loud and strong, and they will not flinch from that position no matter what is thrown at them!