Fait accompli? (Allen Fraser)
Viking Energy is a company owned by Shetland Charitable Trust and private investors. Together with their partners Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) they intend to build a windfarm across the Central Mainland consisting of 103 industrial sized turbines, 145 metres (475 feet) tall.
The Scottish government’s guidelines, with very good reason, state that no turbine should be erected within 2km (1.2 miles) of a dwelling. In England and Wales this is becoming a law. In Shetland about 71 of the turbines will be built less than 2km from houses; some will be built less than 1.1km away. Leaving all other considerations aside, this fact and this fact alone should have at the very least triggered a public local inquiry.
Industrial-sized machines in an industrial-sized windfarm will bring industrial-sized problems. There is no doubt that large numbers of turbines located this close to dwellings will have a physical and psychological impact on the residents.
The SIC’s own planning department, after a long and detailed professional analysis, rejected Viking Energy’s plans. Viking Energy publicly stated that a world class Health Impact Assessment (HIA) was ongoing and would be completed, yet this was abandoned before any results were published. You will have to ask yourself why?
Despite this, just nine SIC councillors carried the vote to block a public local inquiry. All SIC/SCT councillor/trustees, whether they thought they had a conflict of interest or not, had a duty to represent the concerns of those residents within the 2km zones. By not asking hard questions about the location of turbines and the HIA all the dual role SIC/SCT councillor/trustees failed those residents and their duty to the charitable trust. Subsequently the SNP government’s energy minister Fergus Ewing also decided against a public local inquiry.
Thanks to them the windfarm is still the “wrong project in the wrong place”. This is not just about environment or democracy or numbers for or against “the windfarm”; this is about getting it right where people’s health, wellbeing and property is concerned.
SNP minister Ewing’s consent decision was of course purely political and he hides the real reason for his decision behind the actions of the “SIC nine”. Ewing’s decision not to hold a PLI has gone completely un-challenged by our Liberal Democrat MSP and MP, who are also failing to represent the very real fears and concerns of their constituents.
To me the saddest thing of all is the selfish, rabid comments now being expressed by “windfarm supporters”, Viking Energy and SSE, and not a thought is spared by any of them for the wellbeing of those that will be surrounded by turbine clusters.
I don’t believe Ewing’s decision is a fait accompli and it should be rigorously challenged by all fair-minded folk whether they believe in a large windfarm for Shetland or not.