An alternative design has been submitted for the proposed Stornoway Wind Farm.
Lewis Wind Power (LWP) submitted the application for an additional planning consent after two rounds of community consultation on the company's proposals, with public exhibitions at Stornoway Town Hall in October 2018 and February of this year.
The potential changes are designed to give the company the option of using the very latest onshore wind turbines on the market, which the firm believes may be necessary to generate power at the cost required to compete for long-term contracts in a government-backed auction taking place later this year. Contracts are awarded by National Grid on a competitive basis with onshore wind farms on Scotland's 'remote islands' competing with major offshore wind developments in the North Sea.
The potential alternative design features 25 turbines with a tip height of up to 180 metres and 10 turbines with a tip height of up to 156m. This compares to a maximum of 36 turbines at up to 145 metres in the project's existing consent. It is also proposed to increase the separation distance between a number of turbines in the eastern part of the site and the town of Stornoway.
The application documents are available to view online at www.lwp.scot and on the Scottish Government's Energy Consents Unit website. Hard copies will be available to view at LWP's office in Stornoway, as well as the council offices, Stornoway Library and at the Scottish Government Library in Edinburgh.
The Scottish Government will now invite views from local residents and business and from bodies such as Scottish Natural Heritage before making a decision.
Commenting on the submission, Will Collins, Project Manager, Lewis Wind Power, said: "The renewable energy sector has come a long way in technology improvements and cost reduction since our existing consent was granted, and we believe that we may need to have the option of this alternative layout if we are to succeed in securing the long term government contracts required to support our investment in the project.
"The project team has developed a proposal that uses the very latest wind turbine technology and which we believe minimises local impacts wherever possible. For example, a number of turbines in this application would be sited further away from the town of Stornoway than in our existing consent."
Mr Collins also highlighted the importance of the project to the overall ambitions of creating a vibrant renewable energy sector on the islands: "Stornoway Wind Farm is a key part of the business case for the proposed new grid connection with the mainland. We hope the local community will get behind this application which would give us important options as we seek to deliver the project - and to unlock the investment and jobs and the local ambition for further development of renewable energy in the Western Isles."