Ministers have concluded that the proposed 181 turbine Lewis Wind Farm would have a serious impact on the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area, which is designated under the EC Birds Directive and protected under the EC Habitats Directive.
"I have considered this application very carefully. I have listened to representations from the applicant, taken the views of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and considered the 10,924 objections and 98 letters of support. I visited Stornoway last month and heard at first hand a range of deeply held views. I have also taken ecological advice, and advice from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Scottish Natural Heritage.
"European legislation requires a specific procedure to be followed when proposals which could potentially affect Special Protection Areas come forward. I considered all the relevant issues and concluded it would not be possible to approve this application.
"The Lewis Wind Farm would have significant adverse impacts on the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area, which is designated due to its high value for rare and endangered birds.
"This decision does not mean that there cannot be onshore wind farms in the Western Isles. I strongly believe the vast renewables potential needs to be exploited to ensure that the opportunities and benefits of new development can be shared across the country in an equitable fashion.
"That's why we will urgently carry out work on how to develop renewable energy in the Western Isles, in harmony with its outstanding natural heritage. This work will result in an action plan for sustainable development on the islands and will be ready in the autumn.
"Nor does today's decision alter in any way this Government's unwavering commitment to harness Scotland's vast array of potentially cheap, renewable energy sources.
"We have already determined thirteen projects, including approval for the second and third largest wind farms in Scotland. There is 6.4 Gigawatts of renewable development either under construction or in existing or planned applications, well over twice the current installed renewables capacity of 2.8 Gigawatts.
"Even allowing for refusals we are well on the way to meeting our ambitious target to generate 50 per cent of Scotland's electricity demand from renewables by 2020. And emerging technologies will play their part - we are investing in the full range of clean, green energy, from wave and tide to biomass.
"I am confident we will reach our ambitious renewable energy targets and confident the Western Isles will play a part in helping to achieve that, to the benefit of the community and to the benefit of Scotland."
For the rest of the press release, please see http://www.scotland.gov.uk/.