The Western Isles Council, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, has approved proposals for a 651MW windfarm scheme to be built on the Isle of Lewis in the Western Isles of Scotland.

Following a two-hour debate on the matter, councillors voted 18 to eight in favor of the scheme proposed for North Lewis by developers Lewis Windpower. The project, which is worth around GBP500 million, would create one of Europe’s largest onshore wind farms.

The proposals have proved controversial, dividing the local community down the familiar lines of economic benefits for the region versus warnings of long-term damage to the environment.

Although it has secured this important clearance, the approval is subject to over 50 conditions, and the final decision on the wind farm scheme lies with the Scottish Executive. According to the BBC, some of the conditions imposed upon the approval include that the number of turbines for the project be reduced from the proposed 181 to 176.