28th May 2017

Bitterness and anger in Aith and Nesting over windfarm

13 comments, , by , in News

Click on image to enlarge.

With the prospect of giant turbines almost on their doorsteps, many people in the communities of Nesting and Aith have been opposed to the windfarm from day one. News that energy minister Fergus Ewing has now approved the project was greeted in these areas with anger and incredulity.

Many detest the fact that they will have to live their lives in the shadow of the windmills and there is resentment that their opinions have been ignored by Viking Energy in its rush to put profit above preservation of the landscape.

The widespread bitterness about the windfarm’s approval was clear to see on Wednesday, when news of the green light for the 103 turbines began to sink in.

Among those who spoke out was photographer Ivan Hawick, whose South Nesting home will soon look out onto dozens of windmills, generating unwanted noise and causing disturbance to wildlife.

He harked back to a roadshow meeting in the South Nesting Hall, which had been staged by Viking Energy during the project’s difficult, and lengthy, gestation.

“The view that they showed people was done from an elevation of 10 metres, and it didn’t look that bad because it only showed you 20-odd [turbines] and some tips above the hill.

“But what they failed to mention was what folk, the likes of me up nearly 40 metres high were going to see. I’m going to see about 70 from my window.”

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He insisted people had been told “a lot of rubbish” and had been “deceived”. He was also concerned about the level of noise the turbines would make.

“I can’t see how that many turbines a couple of miles away from the house are going to be completely silent. I’m really worried about it.

“I can’t believe it’s not going to a [public] inquiry either. They are just going to go in and destroy that quantity of delicate bird habitat. It beggars belief how they can do that.”

Marie Manson, from Girlsta, was in the Nesting Shop when she heard the news.

She re-iterated the views held by many that it would not be of any benefit to people in the isles.

“It’s just steamrolling over the Shetland folk. There is a big proportion of people who don’t want it,” she said.

There was criticism, too, in Lindsay and Carol Nicol’s home.  

Mr Nicol had been particularly angered by Mr Ewing’s announcement. He called the go-ahead “an absolute disgrace” and described the windfarm as “a big blot on the landscape”.

“I think there should have been a referendum for Shetlanders, because the islands are becoming a big windfarm in my opinion.  

“I don’t think the Scottish government should have been allowed to have made a decision that affects the population of Shetland.”

Mrs Nicol argued Viking had failed to address legitimate concerns which people held.

“They have consulted, but I don’t think they have provided answers to the right questions,” she said.

Others voiced fears the agricultural community would suffer, with one crofter – who did not wish to be named – insisting grazing for sheep would be reduced, and bird communities would be greatly disturbed.

Over the years many critics have insisted they were supportive of windfarms in general, but remained against Viking’s proposal because of its size and scale.

Ellis Keith would no doubt count himself among those. He said he was not against windfarms as such, but too much was at threat from Viking’s grandiose plans.

“I’m not against windmills, and I’m not against even quite a large windfarm in Shetland, but I think [Viking Energy] is possibly detrimental to tourism, possibly detrimental to our moorland and probably detrimental to birds.”

Sixteen-year-old Zoey Symington, a farm worker, said one of the turbines would be too close to her house for comfort.

“I don’t like the idea of it. They are going to be so big. We’re going to hear it all the time.”

But behind all the vitriol and bad-feeling, there was evidence some people were willing to see the turbines go up.

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Rhoda Sandison said she was “quite happy” it had been approved. History, she said, was repeating itself, and Shetland needed to make the most of the opportunities that were on offer.

“There was as big a song and dance when the oil was coming to Shetland. The biggest majority of folk didn’t want oil. Where would we be today if we didn’t have the oil?”

In Aith there was little sign of such support, however. Lorna Moncrieff said she had felt “devastated” by the news. Like many, she had harsh words to say about the consultation process that has gone on, and was concerned the value of her house could take a tumble once the turbines are up and running.

“It’s alright for them in Lerwick and the south end. They’re not going to have to sit and look at it, but we’re going to have to look at it every day.

“It’s not as if we can move. We’ll not be able to move because we won’t be able to sell the house, anyway.”

Her husband, Jim, levelled criticism at the Scottish energy minister, and referred to recent reports Mr Ewing had used tax havens to invest his cash.

“Last week Fergus Ewing was under scrutiny for having £200,000 in offshore accounts. The man has no integrity to speak of how we are going to be effected in Shetland.”

Trevor Tindall insisted the possibilities offered by tidal power should have been explored more fully before a final decision was made on the Viking project.

“There are four things that happen every day, without fail. The tide goes in and goes out, twice in 24 hours. To me, that is what they should have been looking at.”

Meanwhile, retired head teacher Jim Nicolson said he had been “disappointed, but not surprised”.

“I thought it was likely that, given the stance being taken by the Scottish government, that they would give approval to it.

“However Viking Energy’s position has always been that the number of windmills being proposed were the minimum that would be required for the project to go ahead. I would be interested to know if that’s still their position.”

Asked what should happen now, he said he would be making his position clear to the new council once it is elected in May, as well as the trustees of the charitable trust.

Oliver Cheyne from Aith said: “I’m devastated by the news. It’s going to be the finish of the hills in that part of Shetland. It’s going to be a catastrophe for the burns, wiping out the troots. When [peat] moor gets going there’s nothing can stop it – it goes like a sledge. I’m sitting here trying to control my anger because it’s all about money.”

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AboutRyan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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13 comments

  1. Dr Susan Wood.

    Sir,

    The decision to go ahead with the Viking Energy wind farm development will severely damage the Shetland tourist industry. I have been a frequent visitor to Shetland mainly to photograph the landscape and wildlife. I will NOT be coming again. Shetland will no longer be the wild and beautiful place I have enjoyed so much.

    Furthermore, as a former consultant pathologist, now retired, the evidence that environmental disturbance generated by wind turbines is detrimental to the health of those living within 2km is now overwhelming (refs 1-4). I find it difficult to comprehend how this planing application has been approved.

    Yours sincerely

    Susan Wood.
    MSc PhD MRCPath

    References
    1) World Health Organisation. Burden of disease from environmental noise. 2011 http://www.euro.who.int/___data/assets/pdf_file/0008/136466/e94888.pdf.
    2) Van den Berg G, Penderson E, Bouma J. Project WINDFARMperception. Visual and acoustic impact of wind farms on residents. FP6-2005-Science-and-Society-20. Specific support action project no 044628, 2008. http://www.rug.nl/wewi/deWetenschapswinkels/natuurkunde/publicaties/WFp-final-1.pdf.
    3) Hanning C.D, Evans A. Wind turbine noise. British Medical Journal 2012;344:e1527.

    Reply
  2. Karl Odie

    In response to the comments from Susan Wood, I think it is wise to read these articles. The first reference is a bogus link. The summary of the second contains such gems as:

    “Almost all respondents (92%) were satisfied with their living environment”

    “There is no indication that the sound from wind turbines had an effect on respondents’ health”

    The third is locked behind a pay wall and so inaccessible to the general public.
    Finally the fourth? Well, no reference is actually provided.

    Hardly overwhelming evidence. If anything the second paper says that those living closest to wind farms experience an increase in health, due to the economic benefits of being in close proximity to the farms.

    Reply
  3. Karen Roden

    I was horrified to read that this scheme had been approved by the Scottish Energy Minister. Why does the Scottish government have such loathing for its stunning countryside? We all know that renewables have a part to play, but Scotland’s target is madness, particularly when it is leading to such devastation of truly beautiful landscapes. I visit Scotland for family holidays every year, but we refuse to go near major wind farms. It is becoming increasingly difficult to travel around Scotland without seeing how industrialised the countryside is becoming. This year we are going to Jura, but the Shetlands were on the cards for a future holiday, particularly as my eldest son is a keen bird watcher. But, we will not holiday there if this devastating wind farm goes ahead. It is totally out of scale and would create a turbine landscape. The uniqueness of the Shetlands would be lost.

    Reply
  4. Kay Wheatcroft

    The parts of Shetland which remain unspoilt (including the people) need us. I shall be visiting more, not less.

    Reply
  5. David Ramsbotham

    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 add your support to get the Government to have a serious debate on this issue at

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/22958

    or 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 your local Newsletter and to the Editors of your local newspapers.

    Reply
  6. Erik J Smith

    Dr Wood

    I’ve looked at the two studies you posted links to, and your allegation that:

    “the evidence that environmental disturbance generated by wind turbines is detrimental to the health of those living within 2km is now overwhelming ”

    is not supported by either of those papers. The WHO study on environmental noise limits recommends a limit of 40dBa, and the WINDFARMperception paper projects noise levels from a Vesta V90 turbine (3Mw) dropping below 40dBa at a distance of around 600m. (table 4.4, page 13)

    The proposed VE turbines are rated at 3.5 Mw, but the noise emission curve for turbines is almost flat at that size, (Figure 3.2, page 9) so the noise produced by the VE turbines will not be significantly higher.

    The two papers you cite actually support the opposite conclusion, that there will be no significant health impacts on those living close to the turbines.

    Reply
  7. Frank Hay

    It is disgraceful that communities like Aith, Weisdale and Nesting very clearly do not want this massive intrusion into their neighbourhood but appear to have no right of appeal.
    It is also highly significant that most of those people in favour live nowhere near the affected areas. Did Fergus Ewing actually visit Shetland to see for himself the the sites that he has condemned to the scourge of the wind turbine?

    Reply
  8. D Sandison

    @ Karen Roden, the wind farm is not taking up every peice of Shetland land!!

    Reply
  9. John Hay

    Shocking decision!! From living in beautiful untouched landscapes to an existance in an industrial powerstation with no thought for the inhabitants of the people who love their islands unconditionally. The project will be the end of the tourist industry as we know it not to mention the detriment to the wildlife.
    ‘The out of sight out of mind issue’ comes to mind as the narrow minded and greedy pack of wolves who are willing to destroy a stunning part of the world in the search for their own wealth. Same old story, its ok for them who won’t be seeing it, hearing it, day in day out. They are making decisions that will directly affect the people’s everyday lives.
    Very sad indeed!

    Reply
  10. Chris Munro

    I’m not against renewable power sources but this isn’t even for the Shetland grid. It smacks of nimbyism on a grand and Edinburgh scale, they want the renewable power but not in their constituency.
    Well when Alex gets his referendum will he allow Shetland to hold a referendum to see if we want to stay in Scotland with all our oil? I think not. Yet again Shetland has been betrayed by politicians in the UK so when are Shetlanders going to wise up and say no more?

    Reply
  11. ian tinkler

    Karl Odie, I am sorry it was too much for you to find “World Health Organisation. Burden of disease from environmental noise. 2011” The link has moved. Try any search engine it took me less than five seconds to enter the site! “Hanning C.D, Evans A. Wind turbine noise. British Medical Journal 2012;344:e1527.” This publication is available in most public and University libraries. I am sure Ewing could find it, I doubt if he has the interlect to understand it. ” “Almost all respondents (92%) were satisfied with their living environment”. What about the 8 per cent that were not?. Do they not matter? Bearing in mind the Turbines in this research were far less powerful than the VE turbines and 500 meters further away from homes that research is significant. I am sure if you read all the research you will understand the risks or at least appreciate the argument, and employ informed and constructive scientific criticism.

    Reply
  12. Karl Odie

    Ian,

    I just think it’s poor form to post broken links, and links which have apparently been broken for quite some time. If citations are going to be quoted they should be up-to-date. As a Dr I would have expected this from the OP.

    As for the BMJ I can assure you my local library does not have a copy and most universities I know only allow students access.

    As to the remaining 8% quoted from the figure, they’re views are the minority and insignificant in the greater picture. Even if that minority is very vocal what right do they have to block development? That’s probably quite controversial to say but I stand by it.

    As to constructive scientific criticism, I always applaud it. Though in my experience it is quite rare and most of the time is nothing but thinly veiled attempts by the participants to promote their own agendas.

    Reply
  13. Mike Barnard

    To further Erik Smith’s excellent points, here are a couple of additional elements:

    1. The World Health Organization talks about environmental noise and provides sensible guidelines for environmental noise. It specifically talks about noise-related annoyance and potential loss of sleep due to stress reactions to it. It sets reasonable limits in the range of 40 dBA in bedrooms.

    Of course, all urban dwellers experience significantly higher than this already with no ill effects. And the WHO material that is referenced does not focus on interventions where noise is over their recommended limits. These interventions are used world-wide by rural and urban dwellers: white-noise generators (less than $30), iPhone white-noise apps ($0.99), earplugs (cents), closing windows (free) and installing noise-muffling blinds (doesn’t break the bank).

    And of course WHO says nothing about wind turbines at all, despite attempts to assert that they do. WHO is not against wind turbines. WHO has never said anything against wind turbines. WHO has never stated that wind turbines make people sick. People who say so are repeating fifteenth-hand rumours.

    2. The BMJ guest editorial referenced is available in copies in various places on the web. What is more useful is reading the first comment on the editorial — unblocked — by Simon Chapman, Professor of Public Health from Australia. With references, he points out the biases and flaws of the authors, who have a history of anti-wind advocacy and who ignore the 17 major studies finding no credible health impacts.

    Note that a guest editorial in the BMJ is like an op-ed piece in your local newspaper; it reflects the views of the authors, not the BMJ.

    For full details and references on wind turbine health impacts, please review this material:
    http://www.quora.com/Wind-Power/What-might-cause-people-who-live-near-wind-turbines-to-get-sick/answer/Mike-Barnard

    Reply

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