Highlands & Islands

Comhairle approves North Uist wind farm opposed by MoD

Rapier
Image caption Missiles for the Rapier weapon are tested at a range on the Western Isles

Western Isles councillors have approved plans for two wind turbines opposed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar's environment committee voted in favour of the community wind farm at Locheport in North Uist.

The MoD has said the turbines would have an "unacceptable" impact on radars on the islands.

Four years ago, the comhairle was involved in campaign to save one of the radar systems from cuts.

Sales of power generated by the two turbines would raise money for the North Uist community.

Local councillor Uisdean Robertson said those involved in the project had found it difficult to negotiate with the MoD.

Ministry chiefs are concerned about the impact the turbines would have on the operation of air defence radar at South Clettraval on North Uist.

Also, radars on South Uist and St Kilda that serve the UK's largest missile test range.

The Hebrides Range, set up in the 1950s, has sites on Benbecula, North and South Uist and a radar station on the remote St Kilda archipelago.

The range offers the largest area in the UK for the live-firing of rockets and missiles, including missiles for the Rapier surface-to-air system.

About 200 staff run the range and radars it needs.

Four years ago, the comhairle was involved in a campaign to save the range and its jobs from defence cuts.

In a statement, the MoD said it had only just been made aware of the environment committee's decision on the turbines.

The ministry said: "The MoD works hard to balance its support for the government's renewable energy policies and targets with its responsibility to ensure that military operations are safe and that defence interests are not adversely affected by wind turbine developments.

"Each wind turbine planning application is assessed on a case-by-case basis and on its merits."

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