The proposed development would have been several times larger than any onshore or offshore windfarm now operating in the UK. Scottish Energy Minister Jim Mather said he had turned down the 181 turbine farm at Barvas Moor on the island of Lewis because the development was incompatible with EU law.
It would have had a serious impact on a Special Protection Area designated under the EU birds Directive for its importance to rare species including the golden eagle, various divers and waders. It is also protected under the EU habitats Directive.
Although supported by the local council, the proposal faced massive opposition from environmental NGOs and local people with nearly 11,000 written objections received.
Lewis Wind Power, a partnership of project management giant AMEC and nuclear power generator British Energy, said it was bitterly disappointed after six years spent pursuing the proposal.
The windfarm would also have paved the way for a new grid interconnector with the mainland which could have been used to further develop renewable energy in the wind and wave-lashed Western Isles. “Sadly all of this has been lost because of the decision…a huge missed opportunity,” said the developer.
But the Energy Minister said his decision did not rule out other onshore wind farms in the Western Isles, and their vast potential for renewable energy resources should be exploited. He promised an action plan for the autumn. Mr Mather also said the Scottish Government had a good record on consenting windpower projects, and Scotland remained on course to obtain 50% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.