The number of objections to proposals to remove an area of woodland to build a new church and large car park has doubled in a week.
Woodland alongside Smith Avenue in Stornoway would be felled under plans for a Stornoway High Free Church building and 77-space car park on land opposite the running and athletics track.
The Stornoway High Free Church has submitted a request for outline planning permission to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for use of the land, which is owned by community landowner the Stornoway Trust.
Church officials say that some facilities within the new build would be made available to community groups, with the main sanctuary only for worship services.
The church congregation has been without a permanent home since splitting with the Church of Scotland two years ago. At present their Sunday services are held in Stornoway Primary School, while the midweek meetings are held in the Retirement Centre, Bayhead, with English Prayer meetings on Tuesdays and Saturdays and Gaelic Prayer meetings on Thursdays.
By last weekend, a total of eight official objections had been submitted to the Comhairle in response to the Church's planning application.
However, the published planning documents state that planning officials at CnES can see no basis for refusing the application. It is also understood that under the rules governing planning applications, councillors are no longer permitted to express an opinion on an application as that would be regarded as giving them an interest in the project and disqualifies them from voting on it. CnES also has a long-term policy to favour development as a way of boosting the local economy.
After outline permission is granted by the council, a full planning application is needed at a later date.
Comments on the planning application can be made online via the Comhairle's planning portal; and details can be found here
A video from within the woodland can be found here