24th July 2017

Windfarm funding meeting collapses after intervention by protester

22 comments, , by , in News

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A crucial meeting of Shetland Charitable Trust to agree the next £6.3 million funding for Viking windfarm descended into farce today when six trustees walked out and left too few to proceed with business.

Five trustees declared an interest and said they would leave the meeting. They were then joined by Florence Grains who objected to the calling of a special meeting while the trust is out to consultation on reforming its constitution.

Her action drew applause from 20 of the protesters from Sustainable Shetland who were able to squeeze into the chamber at Lerwick Town Hall while others watched on a videolink from upstairs.

That left just 11 trustees. Twelve are needed for a trust meeting to be quorate. However the problem did not seem to be noticed by trust officials or vice-chairman Jim Henry.

As he was about to proceed with the debate he was interrupted by one of the protesters, Rosa Steppanova, who said: “You have no quorate!”

After a quick head count the meeting had to be cancelled. Afterwards Mr Henry said he did not expect another attempt to be made to convene a meeting until after the council elections on 3rdMay.

There was jubilation outside among the protesters. Ms Steppanova said she was shocked by what she had seen. “They were going to proceed with a meeting and a member of the public had to actually point out that they were inquorate. So if they can’t even count to 12 how can we trust them with all those millions?”

The trustees who declared an interest and declined to take part were Frank Robertson, Allison Duncan and the three directors of Viking: Bill Manson, Caroline Miller and Alastair Cooper.

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22 comments

  1. ian tinkler

    Well done Rosa. You showed them to be the fools we knew they were. That’s the second time they have show the stupidity of not being able to count to twelve. Stupid or malign intent to pervert normal equitable procedures? I wonder. The last time they did it cost us millions. Just where did that money go? In whose pockets is it sitting?

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  2. Gordon Harmer

    The future will show just who the fools are when SSE are the dominant shareholders in the wind farm and all the profits go out of the sooth mooth. Remember the names of the protesters when not a penny comes to those who have to put up with the turbines on their door step, yes well done Rosa.
    Some of the NIMBY Luddites said on radio Shetland they had scored a victory, since when has an own goal been a victory.
    I don’t understand the logic of, we cant stop the wind farm being built so now we will stop the charitable trust and Shetland folk benefiting financially from this venture.
    I can hear Alex Salmond’s phone ringing and multinational power companies accepting deals to build more wind farms all over these isles. While he laughs up his sleeve at the thought of Shetland throwing away any local governance over wind farm development they may have had. Yes well done and thank you Rosa and company.

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  3. Ann Thomson

    Congratulations to Rosa for pointing out the obvious. These people cannot be trusted to carry out the will of the community.

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  4. Susan Bowie

    Today in Lerwick some people displayed their right to protest, whatever your views, and the Charitable Trust have wavered.
    I chained myself to the Scottish office railings 25 years ago to protest against nuclear power, and we thought we contributed to stopping Dounreay expansion between us all.
    But who would have believed that 25 years later people would demonstrate against clean power and prevent Shetland embracing this opportunity..
    How will they be seen in years to come if Shetland misses out?
    I am amazed that people protest about clean power when they have a dirty big oil terminal in their backyard. Mind you its up here in the North.
    I suspect that it wouldn’t matter how small or how quiet or how little peat disturbance the windfarm generates , some will object whatever. Its a great pity.
    If the windfarm goes offshore we can gaze out at them from here, and make not a penny for Shetland’s coffers, or ensure a bargaining chip post peak oil. I really thought pragmatic as they are that most Shetlanders would have wanted to grab the opportunity by the scruff.

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  5. Michael Garriock

    Who were the ten who were prepared to continue with the meeting in addition to Jim Henry? If any of them are seeking re-election this information may be of interest to the relevant constituents.

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  6. ian tinkler

    Gordon, you may have made a very good point. If ever there was a time to get Shetland as far away from Salmond and his SNP dictates as possible, you have just made it. Viking Energy represents the tip of a very large ice berg. Many more wind farms and 1000 miles of offshore generation around Shetland alone. Multiple Converter stations cables and pylons all over Shetland just think of that. Well done Rosa, this fight goes on; in fact it has hardly started.

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  7. John Robertson - reporter

    To be fair, the 11 remaining trustees did nothing wrong by continuing to sit in the chamber as the meeting was about to proceed. It’s not their job to do a head count to check if it is quorate. Proceedings were halted within seconds, before more than a few words were said. Although Rosa intervened first there were others, including the media, about to pounce.

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  8. Vivienne Rendall

    Susan Bowie-‘the dirty great oil terminal’ at Sullom Voe is well out of the way and cannot be seen by the casual traveller unless he/she goes there deliberately.
    The windfarm however is to be built all over central Mainland, turning the whole area into something resembling a bombsite in full view of anyone travelling to or from the North Isles. And what life will be like for those in Aith, Nesting etc doesn’t bear thinking about.
    I think that perhaps each small community should have its own two or three turbines and the connector to Scotland should be quietly forgotten. Scotland seems to see Shetland as an industrial site operating for its benefit.
    It would obviously good for Shetland to have clean energy but I see no reason why the beautiful landscape needs to be devastated to supply Scotland.
    Vivienne Rendall.

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  9. Ron Stronach

    Well said Vivienne,

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  10. Gerald Cate

    I’m slightly puzzled. The protesters appear to be objecting to the Charitable Trust’s continuing involvement in the wind farm, which has been consented and will almost certainly be built. The outcome of this protest, if successful, would be:

    1. The Trust would divest itself of its interest in the scheme by selling it to another investor, almost certainly from off Shetland.
    2. SSE, the Burradale owners and the new investor would construct the wind farm.
    3. 95% of the profits from the wind farm would then leave the island for the next 25 years at least.

    Can someone please explain how this would be desirable for Shetland?

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  11. Gordon Harmer

    Vivienne if you are going to argue get your facts right. Casual travelers once north of Mavis Grind can see the Sullom Voe terminal and the Total gas plant from several view points as they head north. They have a splendid view as they casually travel through the village of Sullom, Bardister, Gluss and Yell but to mention a few. Light pollution from lights at the terminal and flare stacks can be seen all over the North mainland and isles. I presume you mean tourists by casual traveler or people from other parts of the isles out for a run.
    I personally do not have a problem with the view of the terminal or for that matter a view of a wind farm as I see them both as necessary to our standard of living and fuel needs.
    Ian as someone who is well aware of the diabolical idiosyncrasies of Salmond and the SNP I am somewhat surprised that you cant see the need for the council to have some control and governance over the wind farm. By having a majority share in it the council are accountable to the Shetland electorate and therefore accountable for mistakes. SSE are accountable to no one but their shareholders, who’s wallets will come before anyone up here and if problems arise, as they will, SSE will tell you go get a lawyer and speak through him.
    Also by having the major share of the wind farm the council will have set a president for any other national, multinational power company wanting to develop here. Salmonds pipe dream will ensure that the above will happen, we should take a leaf out of the ZCC’s book and keep control of this before it is too late.
    Ian I support the wind farm but I don’t want to see Shetland plastered in them but the irresponsible actions of a few unthinking hot heads has just opened the doors for a mass development.

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  12. Sandy McMillan

    Gordon, I listened to Alex Salmond on radio Scotland one afternoon, the question put to him was, would he like to see a wind farm in his neck of the woods, Salmond answered, not if i have any thing to with it, put them out to sea was his answer, or in the mouth of the Moray Firth they will blend in with all the drilling rigs etc.

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  13. Gordon Harmer

    Yes Sandy I have listened to Alex Salmond on many occasions and I have come to the conclusion that he doesn’t Know what he had for breakfast today and he has no idea what he wants tomorrow. His latest gaff is he now wants to join NATO, a complete U turn and that means goodbye to a nuclear free Scotland another massive U turn.
    He has no idea what he wants but one thing is for sure he will not be saturating the Western Isles with wind farms. There are two reasons why, the first is that is where most of his votes come from and the second is that a wind farm will be 15 to 20% more efficient on the Shetlands.
    Sandy you have said we have nothing to fear from Salmond, what I say to you is go listen to Billy Fox and Ian Tinkler, you listen to them on other issues listen to them on Alex Salmond, and be afraid.

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  14. Douglas Young

    Thank goodness a member of public, Rosa Steppanova, was there to point out the rules required for a meeting to go ahead, and it is therefore safe to assume that the inability to count to 12 has been used in the past to hold illegal meetings to which the public were not present. I note Mr Bill Manson is quoted as saying “the charitable trust had the mandate to continue to pursue the project as the majority of the community was behind it.” Without a referendum this is a downright lie.

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  15. James Mackenzie

    Susan Bowie and Gordon Harmer would do well to heed the following extract from “Common Concerns about Windfarms”, published by the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE):

    “Attitudes toward wind power are fundamentally different from attitudes toward wind farms, a divergence that has created what is sometimes called the ‘social gap’. Despite the move to renewable energy sources having broad public support (wind included), implementation of wind farm projects is often met with stiff opposition at a local level. Although some opposition is based on misconceptions about wind power in general, local resistance to wind farms is a complex interconnection between a position of being ‘for the greater good’ and negativity toward what is seen as an unwelcome imposition on the visual landscape to which residents have a strong emotional attachment

    The pejorative term ‘nimby’ (from ‘not in my back yard’) has regularly been levelled at residents when negative opinions about planned wind farms have been raised. This term is inaccurate, unfair and has no explanatory value, serving only to increase antagonism if it achieves anything at all. Understanding the issues involved, namely what lies behind the concerns and preconceptions of residents, is crucial if a community is to accept and even welcome the installation of a wind farm nearby.”

    I only became aware of the peer-reviewed document this morning, so have had very little time to read it. I accept, however, that as a result of further study, I may have to acknowledge that some of the arguments I have carried in my opposition to the Viking Windfarm may not ‘hold water’. And I hope both pro- and anti-windfarm campaigners will learn from it.

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  16. ian tinkler

    Alex Salmond is an astute and devious politicician. He totally lakes truth and integrity, he will change his view whenever it serves his public persona. A true prostitute to public opinion, a man of straw who to date done nothing but sow division and bile. I would never ally myself to Donald Trump but I agree with Trump when he stated “No man in the history of Scotland has done so much to damage the Scottish countryside”. Keep this man and his mantra out of Shetland.

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  17. Michael Garriock

    @ Gerald Cate: Your conclusions are flawed insofar as you assume the SCT would sell their stake. Unless they have been fools enough to have already signed an agreement with their partners that the project must proceed within a set timeline, with their investment, or they must sell it. Selling is by no means the only, or indeed “sensible” route forward.

    If the trustees of the SCT were to ajudge that for whatever reason the investment was “too risky” for them, they could either lease their share to a third party, inclusive of any T&C’s which were agreeable, at as high a return as the market could stand, or they could simply decide to sit on their “asset” meantime, pending the future of the marketplace becoming clearer.

    Remember, the SCT is currently in the middle of a period of enforced structural and constitutional change, the SCT which emerges from the other end of the process may or may not wish to pursue investments of this type or scale. For once I wholly agree with Florence Grains, it is a disingenuous and while probably legal, also quite likey highly questionable ethically, to, in the dying hours of the office terms of the current trustees to attempt to railroad through a decision on this investment. The decision from Holyrood has been pending for many months, those involved with VE admit they had expected it to be made sooner, that being the case, what is the hellfire hurry, will literally 3 or 4 weeks more really make a blind bit of difference. When those who will be in a position to take the matter forward in years to come can decide how they wish to handle this, instead of lumbering them with the outcome of hastily made decisions of others of whom none may well be left still involved after May 3rd.

    Remember also, the project relies on an amount of governmental subsidy (as yet unspecified in actual £££’s/% terms of VE’s projected profits as far as I’m aware) to realise the projected profits stated (perhaps relies totally on that subsidy to make any profit at all for all we know, or worse still relies on it to even break even….). The winds of change are blowing towards that subsidy right now, and quite strongly apparently. During the last six months or so, changes have already been made in the extent of that subsidy, and more are possible, the Government have recently be petitioned by around 100 of its own MP’s demanding this. It seems that the cash cow VE was supposed to milk may well not be such a prolific beast as she first appeared, and while she may well have served some well in her younger years, as she gets older her yields may well be quite meagre, having largely burned herself out too much too young.

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  18. Gerald Cate

    @ Michael Garriock, thank you for your long and detailed response. I bet you a million pounds that there is a clause in the Viking Energy partnership agreement that prevents any one of the partners from unilaterally delaying the project by simply deciding to sit on its hands for a few years. And the Charitable Trust is a minority partner.

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  19. Dennis Leask

    It appears the intellectual argument on competence to decide the future of the Viking Wind Farm project has come down to which side can count to 12 first.

    Perhaps the council could adopt this as a standard measure of competence when interviewing? Thus saving time and money, then we won’t need the income from the wind farm.

    Reply
  20. Michael Garriock

    @ Gerald Cate: If indeed the SCT have signed themselves in so deep this early in the game that they no longer hold a ‘get out of jail free’ card, it it is just additional proof that the SCT is simply operating at a level well beyind its depth. The sooner all SCT trustees are appointed by direct democratic election teh better, then it might just stand a chance of being able to play among the big shots on a level field.

    Yes, the SCT IS a minority partner in Viking Energy LLP, you said it! That was the first, and one of the biggest mistakes they made and signed up to. Given the circumstances and details of this project, the SCT being the majority partner in it should have been the No.1 non-negotiable pre-condition of everything and everything.

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  21. Susan Bowie

    James,
    Don’t get me wrong , I have absolute sympathy for someone who doesn’t like the look of a windfarm..and I think thats an absolutely legitimate objection.. though I wouldn’t mind looking out on it, and do think the terminal lit up at night has a beauty of its own. Maybe I’m used to it, and I suspect those living near the windfarm and passing by it would get used to it to, especially if money could be clawed for it to benefit the elderly, and those inconvenienced by the project.
    More reason to get a huge amount out of this project for local residents… ( Mind you did any of us campaign for the residents of Browns road to get fully compensated for having to look on the backside of Mareel…)
    My personal feeling is that part of the right wing media antipathy to wind is because the county set don’t like it. It’s interesting that the guy who presented this years Farmers Weekly awards is a presenter on Country File – as is Tom Heap who presented the Panorama Program (http://www.biggreenbang.co.uk/index.php/deja-vue-again-media-launch-scare-based-on-unpublished-report) that created such a negative press in the Mail late last year. At the time of the awards Farmers Weekly ran a reader poll about wind and there was 90% opposition amongst its readers. It’s no coincidence in my mind that the county set, from Princes Phillip and Charles down to the rural dining set, hate wind- often on “environmental grounds” – “spoils the view darhling” – key Tory supporters one and all and reason enough for the conservatives to seek a way out of green commitments.. (it’s all a left wing plot – yes that is seriously one of the lines the US right punt around!!)Wind will be a fantastic resource and will generate income to keep a long term income in the Islands and hopefully allow us to flourish. I don’t want to be rude to you guys , cos I really respect you, but the “Economic arguments” against wind are about attempts over the last couple of years to demonise wind. The arguments about the cost of backup, and about the cost of subsidy are fake – produced by astroturfing groups and by right wing think tanks who have been instrumental in giving the Tories there reinvigorated status and as drivers of ultra right neo-con policy – initiatives like privatising the NHS.

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  22. Chris Bunyan

    As James commented about three screens above there is an very good report based on peer-reviewed scientific studies that is generally easy to read. All should read it.
    http://www.cse.org.uk/downloads/file/common_concerns_about_wind_power.pdf

    Reply

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