17th February 2018
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Not looking a good bet (Kathy Greaves)

With the news this week of the protest by 101 Tory MPs against subsidies paid to encourage inefficient onshore wind turbines, and with the public’s growing disenchantment with windfarms in reaction to their steeply rising fuel bills being used to pay for these massive subsidies, surely it is time that Shetland Charitable Trust trustees called a halt to the Viking Energy project in order to re-assess their involvement in and commitment to it.

Or perhaps they will continue to pour more money into the project as our funds dwindle further, as subsidies are cut nationally, reducing the expected income from Viking Energy. Public objections to planning applications on the mainland are now being more carefully listened to as regulations change, and we may yet have the opportunity to halt the construction of this giant windfarm here.

As a charity the trust has to prove value for money – is this looking likely to be a good bet? I would not put my money on it. If the project does go ahead of course there is always the fair chance of the government (UK or Scottish) delivering us a “windfall” tax. Should there be any other profits, it is unlikely any will end up back in Shetland.

Foreign companies own two thirds of wind generated companies – they are not in the business of being altruistic, and only look for profits for their owners. Then there are the banks who must be repaid …

We need Shetland to benefit from renewable energy, for the funds to benefit us; we need to look after our own. Power from smaller groups of wind turbines throughout these islands should be for Shetland people’s benefit, reducing our carbon footprint – as the council has committed us to – and keeping us warm in our homes.

Kathy Greaves
3 Anderson Road,
Lerwick.

14 comments

  1. David Ramsbotham

    We need to get the Government onside, as well as local councils and others, if we are going to stop these wind turbines being built.

    Are you disillusioned by rising electricity prices, over dependence on the “green” dream [especially uneconomical and inefficient wind farms] and the destruction of our countryside then please register your objection to the Government by GOOGLING “E-PETITION 22958” and following the link.

    Please pass this message on to Councillors, members of your community and anyone else you know to persuade them to sign up too. If you are really concerned about wind turbines please write a letter promoting this petition to the Editors of your local newspapers.

    Reply
  2. Richard Gibson

    Cathy come clean,

    What do you suggest the Charitable Trust should do? Pull out now and sell their shares in Viking Energy to the highest bidder, hand their shares to their partners without recompense and say good-by to their investment, wait for the Energy Consents Unit to make a decision before selling out or reduce their percentage holding (and influence) in Viking Energy by withholding further investment.

    If I wave my magic wand and appoint you to the Charitable Trust, mindful of your responsibilities as a trustee, please let us know what course you would suggest.

    Reply
  3. Jim Fraser

    Well said Kathy.

    Is it a coincidence that the Councillors who support the current proposed new arrangement of Trustees for the SCT tend also to be avid supporters of the Viking Energy project? This proposal does of course have to satisfy OSCR but it is also designed to ensure continued, if not stronger, support for the VE project.

    You can be sure there will be no appointed Trustees with a negative view on Viking Energy.

    Reply
  4. David Spence

    I am rather amused (if not hypocritical) at Donald Trump and his remarks regarding Mr Salmon wishing to erect wind turbines in the same area as Mr Trumps wishes to build a golf course and housing complex, but completely forgetting he himself was ruining the natural habitat and coastline of this beautiful part of Scotland for his own commercial gain and profit.

    Reply
  5. Colin Hunter

    Well said David! This is a quote from Donald Trumps “Trump International Golf Links” webiste.

    ” When I saw this piece of land I was overwhelmed by the imposing dunes and rugged Aberdeenshire coastline. I knew that this was the perfect site for Trump International – Scotland. I have never seen such an unspoiled and dramatic sea side landscape and the location makes it perfect for our development.”

    It is absolutely incredible to me that someone could say such a thing and keep a straight face!! It seems it’s OK to ride roughshod over people in order to destroy the place so that the rich and famous can chase a silly little white ball about, as if there is a shortage of such places already in Scotland, but putting up a windfarm in order to generate clean, green electricity? Oh no, we can’t have that……….can we????? Why do I feel an overwhelming desire to tell him to use his golf course as a suppository and shove off back to his own side of the pond!

    Reply
  6. Ian Tinkler

    Why do I feel an overwhelming desire to tell him to use his golf course as a suppository and shove off back to his own side of the pond! What a pity Salmond,s windfarms are not used the same way on Alex.

    Reply
  7. Kathy Greaves

    With respect, Mr Gibson.

    First of all, the Shetland Charitable Trust was set up primarily to provide for the people of Shetland and not, so far as I am aware, to invest heavily in commercial enterprises which may carry a great risk; many £millions have been lost over recent years, not all to local businesses, and our reserves are decreasing. The Viking Energy project will not only use up a great deal of what is left, but our share of the proposed borrowings (£500million or so) for the installation of the interconnector will leave us in debt and possibly facing bankruptcy.

    You ask what the SCT should do – what they could do is to persuade their partners to restructure their business plan – if there is one – rename the company, perhaps Hjaltland Power, reduce the size and quantity of wind turbines which could be suitably positioned throughout Shetland, forget the interconnector (no borrowing needed there), acquire different, local, partners and involve the citizens of these islands by investing in their own energy supply company. They, and no-one else, could reap the financial profits from this scheme, and at the same time keep their energy bills down.

    Using Shetland wind power for our own use, we could be a shining example to other small communities; we would reduce our carbon footprint (as the council and the Scottish government have pledged to do), be ecologically sound as well as providing local employment – we in Shetland would all benefit.

    You ask if VE should hand their shares to their partners – no. You may remember some years ago that the Charitable Trust bought shares in Smyril Line and our funds (£4.7mil) are still invested with them; why then should partners in VE not also leave their investment in the new Shetland power company, to be repaid at a later time.

    We should not be afraid that other energy companies may/will construct massive wind farms on our islands, install an interconnector and take all the profits – the SIC are the planning authority and with the support of the people, should reject any such proposal, from any speculator.

    The old power station at Gremista is puffing and groaning with old age; the Scottish Government (and energy partners) is unlikely to install an interconnector from the mainland to Shetland to supply us with power, or to help to reduce the increasingly crippling fuel bills we face.

    Details about expenditure for the new company could be open for inspection at all times and costs kept down. We read that the four employees of the Viking Energy project have received £193,000 in salaries in just one year (almost a £1mil in five years) – how much has been paid out since VE was set up in 2003? No wonder the rest of Britain think that this is an affluent community.

    And. If you think this is a case of ‘all that wasted time and money – we have to go ahead now’, why has VE continued to push this forward, with the SCT’s finance and backing, since public consultation commenced almost five years ago (March 2007) when they said that they would not go ahead if the people did not want it? The ‘stakeholders’ – the public, have not given such a remit.

    This is my free advice, regardless of whether you can or will appoint me as a trustee of the Charitable Trust; if I had time I may just apply for the job anyway.

    Regards

    Kathy Greaves

    Reply
  8. Jeff Goddard

    Shetland Charitable Trust has never had any involvement in Smyril Line or the Norrona.

    Reply
  9. Unfortunately Jef, SCT and SIC have been two faces of the same organisation. A cartel of the self interested. Involvement in Smyril Line or the Norrona, may not in name but certainly the same usual suspects pulling the strings.

    Reply
  10. David Spence

    Correct me if I am wrong Ian, but is the Council proceeding to take legal action against the Smyril Line for ‘ breach of contract ‘, in regards to the initial agreement the Council had with this company (I believe the Council had a 19% share holding) and for the Shetlands Islands to be incorporated as a location for the Norrona’s route for passengers and tourists? Although, the Norrona only being berthed for 2 hours really didn’t do much justice in terms of Shetland benefiting from such a visit. I would be interested, if anybody can inform me, what the latest is regarding SIC -v- Smyril Line fiasco?

    Reply
  11. John Thomsom

    Ian, as Geoff has already said SCT had nothing to do with Smyril Line. That is an undeniable and unarguable FACT.

    There are many good people who work hard at SCT and I’m not talking about trustees. So remember that when you are posting your comments which seem recently to have been more about quantity and not quality.

    Reply
  12. ian tinkler

    John, I am talking about a few trustees, not the people working at the trust, some of whom I have the highest regard for. In the immortal words of a councillor patient of mine, ” he finds his own sheep more intelligent than some council colleagues”. Some of these councillors are trustees, whom appear to abuse their democratic privilege.

    Reply
  13. O Dear, Dear me. Now Scottish and Southern Energy state that the uncertainties created by “The Independence” issue and may cause them to withdraw from infrastructure investment in Scotland. Now that is good for a laugh!!! Writing on the wall for Viking? I do hope so. For once I have something to thank Salmond for. What a paradox.

    Reply
  14. Douglas Young

    Well said Kathy, many countries are not developing onshore windfarms anymore, Northern Europe suffered a 20% drop in performance the winter before last and had to increase base load generation and prices to “preserve income stream”. There is no argument to continue throwing money into it. What has been spent has been “Bressay-brigged”

    Reply

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