21st February 2018
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Shetland unsuitable for Viking windfarm, says John Muir Trust

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The size and scale of the Viking Energy windfarm development is unsuitable for one of the wildest parts of the United Kingdom, according to the John Muir Trust.

Renewing its original objection to the project ahead of tomorrow’s deadline for submissions to the Scottish government’s energy consents unit (ECU), the charity cited the recent Lonely Planet description of Shetland as the “last untamed corner of the UK” in support of its stance.

John Hutchison, chairman of the John Muir Trust, said: “We have looked closely at the changes to the original application. If this had been submitted as a new application, rather than as a revision of a previous design, the size and scale of the development would still be considered inappropriate for such a remote and wild landscape.

“Just this month Shetland was described by travel guide Lonely Planet as ‘the last untamed corner of the UK’. Despite the development being reduced in scale, the fact remains that the turbines would dwarf any building in the heart of Glasgow, let alone the landscape of Shetland.”

“Ninety-two per cent of visitors state that they come to Scotland because of our scenery. With so many tourists valuing the natural environment, it is important that such developments do not negatively impact on the wild nature of our rural landscapes, but instead focus on supplying local energy needs.”

He said the trust supports sustainable economic development in wild land areas, but has concerns over carbon payback figures and the developer’s proposals to re-use 700,000 cubic metres of extracted peat elsewhere on the development site.

Stuart Brooks, chief executive, added: “Peat has an extremely fragile structure, and once peat has dried out significantly it is impossible to reverse this process. You cannot, as Viking Energy are proposing, shift peat from one location to another and expect it to behave in the same way.

“The impacts of wind developments on deep peat are extremely difficult to predict so there is a need to stick to a precautionary principle and avoid siting major developments of this scale on fragile and important peatlands. Restoring peatlands to help sequester carbon should be our priority; this is one of the most cost-effective means of reducing our carbon emissions.”

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