The recent launch of the Northern Isles New Energy Solutions (NINES) by Scottish and Southern Energy is to be welcomed for the visionary proposal it is. As an initiative to demonstrate how appropriate renewable resources can be integrated into a grid network it is very innovative.
Using Shetland as a test bed due to its isolated grid is exactly what Sustainable Shetland has been advocating. Provision of thermal back-up from a new power station, using fuel gas from the Total terminal, would give Shetland a bright outlook in terms of reliable, clean and economic supply. It would provide us with the means of bringing more fit-for-scale renewables on stream to supply local needs.
In contrast to this imaginative project, however, the chief executive of SSE insists on promoting the unrelated Viking Energy windfarm with bullish rhetoric, which windfarm developers seem to favour.
There is no inevitability to the Viking Energy windfarm going ahead, quite the contrary. It is a deeply controversial proposal with outstanding objections still in place that are far from resolved.
For such a huge windfarm located in a small island community it is inconceivable that a public local inquiry would not be called. I find the assumption that a planning consent will be granted offensive; it illustrates a lack of regard by the developer to genuine public concern, not to mention the objections from many credible organisations. Elected politicians should not share this lack of regard locally or nationally.
The community involvement is an essential part of SSE’s strategy in achieving a planning consent; the windfarm has been sold in Holyrood as a community-backed scheme, something that it is not.
Never in my lifetime have I seen such arrogant high-handedness from a council when it comes to mis-representing its electorate; the same holds for our MSP and MP.
The community has been denied a proper voice by the council’s refusal to hold a referendum, or employ any credible method of gauging public opinion since the addendum was published. The overwhelming majority of objections to the energy consents and deployment unit is the most valid indicator and our politicians still choose to ignore those official figures.
Shetland Charitable Trust’s withdrawal of our funding would deal a severe blow to the prospect of obtaining planning consent. The removal of the Busta Estate land by the council would effectively kill the project off.
SIC convener Sandy Cluness stated on 1st July 2009: “My view is that if the majority of the Shetland public are against it then it shouldn’t go ahead.”
The majority are against it, but this view was absent when the council’s recommendation for approval was railroaded through on 14th December.
The Viking Energy windfarm has planning and commercial mountains to climb and is not a done deal, despite the political agenda being driven from the heart of Scottish government. The Shetland public must never forget that.
The opposition goes on and continues to grow. If you have not already written or emailed energy minister Jim Mather, asking him to refuse consent or at the very least hold a public local inquiry, please do so now. Email Jim.Mather.firstname.lastname@example.org or write to: Scottish Energy Minister, The Scottish Government, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP.