A BUDDHIST community on an isolated Scottish island and protesting against an “ugly and harmful” power plant which they say will ruin their tranquillity.
The Samye Ling monastery runs a retreat on the Holy Isle, near Arran in the Firth of Clyde, which promotes meditation and spiritual enlightenment.
They warn this is under threat from a planned biomass wood-fired heat and power plant on Arran which will cause noise pollution and smoke.
The Buddhists are now joining forces with local opponents of the industrial-scale plant, who have formed the No to Arran Biomass group.
The Samye Ling monastery is based in Dumfriesshire, but has run the Holy Isle since 1992.
Its abbot Lama Yeshe Rinpoche, said: “If it was going to benefit the people of Arran I wouldn’t like to object, but I think everybody will lose.
“Holy Isle brings many thousands of people from all over the world and has a lot of economic good for Scotland and Arran.
“When you see such an ugly idea with lots of noise and a very high intensity of smoke, it will harm tourism.
“We feel Holy Isle is beautiful, environmentally and ecologically sound, and we care about nature and the wild animals.”
He continued: “It has been so successful, but we are talking about a plant which won’t benefit anyone.
“It’s just going to ruin the potential of Arran and Holy Isle.
“A lot of people who come to Holy Isle are very concerned about the environment along with their physical and mental wellbeing.
“When they see we aren’t able to provide that, it will harm us very badly.”
Lama Yeshe fled persecution in Tibet before setting up Samye Ling, the largest Tibettan Bhuddist monastery in Europe.
The plant, proposed by Northern Energy Developments, would use 40,000 tons of wood every year from forests around Arran.
The Holy Isle has been considered a special spiritual location for centuries.
The island has previously been used by a Christian monastery dating back to the 13th Century as well as Norse and Viking fleets.
It is home to the remains of a sixth-century monk, St Molaise.
The islands previous owner, devout Catholis Kay Morris, sold it to the Buddhists after claimeing to be instructed to do so by a vision of the Virgin Mary.
North Ayrshire Council will consider the planning application next month, and Lama Yeshe has urged his followers to write to the council to object to the plans.
A sample letter says the plant will be “detrimental to the pure natural environment of the Holy Isle” and will harm its “natural atmoshphere.”
Northern Energy developments says the plant will be screened by surrounding woodland and will provide four direct and 14 indirect jobs.
Managing director Fergus Tickell has written to islanders saying emissions will be safe and noise will be limited.
Mr Tickell, who said he had not spoken to Lama Yeshe, said: “The project is located in an area to minimise the environmental impact, and will make use of what is very, very low grade forestry material.”