Top Scottish judges give go ahead for Viking windfarm

 Scotland’s most senior court has delivered an overwhelming verdict in favour of the Viking Energy windfarm that could hasten the building of 103 massive turbines in central Shetland.

The ruling by three senior judges in favour of the Scottish Ministers’ motion and against that of objectors Sustainable Shetland clears a major hurdle facing the joint venture between the “Shetland community” and the power company SSE, which could provide enough electricity to power 350-,000 homes.

Lord Brodie delivered the opinion of The Inner House of the Court of Session that means the consent application was competent, that Scottish ministers acted lawfully in issuing the decision letter and there was no breach of the EU Birds Directive.

Viking Windfarm

Viking windfarm will be located in central Shetland.

 Viking Energy Shetland chairman Alan Bryce said: “We are pleased that the judges have found in favour of Scottish ministers, who awarded consent to build the wind farm more than two years ago. Their decision has been vindicated today and we can now move on.

“We believed the consent decision would stand up to the closest scrutiny and this outcome validates our position that this project can benefit the local and wider environment.

“The potential for substantial economic and environmental benefits for Shetland means that Viking Energy is in this for the long haul and we continue to look forward to advancing our plans to build what could become the world’s most productive wind farm and a crown jewel of Shetland’s economy.”

Spokesman for Sustainable Shetland (SuS) James MacKenzie said: “We are obviously disappointed that the judges have upheld the ministers appeal. We still think the Lady Clark’s opinion was justified, but we will have to read the decision carefully and discuss with our legal team before we can see what the arguments are.

“It has been a long and arduous process and I would like to say that the support from members and supporters has been quite inspiring and humbling .”

 Mr MacKenzie said that the windfarm “still had quite a lot of obstacles” to overcome and SuS would only decide how to procede after discussions with legal advisors and the organisation’s membership. He could not say if SuS, which has paid for its lawyers through public donations, had enough money to continue the legal fight or if there would be a further fundraising drive.

 The judgement by Lords Menzies, Brodie and Lord President Gill strongly contradicts last year’s decision of Lady Clark who found against the development on grounds that the Scottish ministers decision to grant planning permission was incompetent as the windfarm did not have a generating licence and had not taken adequate heed of the wild birds directive.

According to the judges, Lady Clark had been “diverted” by calls from Sustainable Shetland for a public inquiry and failed to focus on the key question of “whether the grant of consent by the Scottish Ministers had been a lawful decision” taking into account its effects on the whimbrel. It very clearly was, they found.

The judgment also makes it clear that the granting of consent for the windfarm by the Scottish Government was not contingent upon the development having an operating licence, which Lady Clark had given as the reason for overturning the consent.

The judges’ disposal at the end of their judgment reads: “We will accordingly allow the reclaiming motion at the instance of the Scottish Ministers, recall the interlocutor of the Lord Ordinary, refuse the cross-appeal at the instance of Sustainable Shetland, and dismiss the petition.”

Sustainable Shetland or other objectors have 42 days to appeal to the Supreme Court in London against the judgment.

About Peter Johnson

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as an employed and freelance reporter and editor for a variety of print and broadcast media outlets and as as a freelance photographer and film maker/cameraman. In addition to journalism, I have experience in construction, oil analysis, aquaculture, fisheries, the health service and oral history.

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16 comments

  1. John Tulloch

    Opponents of the Viking Energy wind farm who can’t bring themselves to sign the “No confidence in SIC” petition in local shops and online at:

    https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/shetland-islands-council-resign

    may find the linked article below of interest:

    http://www.scotsman.com/news/clark-cross-wind-farm-programme-does-not-have-proper-authority-1-2413965

    Reply
  2. john irvine

    That decision amazes me, after all what do these so called lords no about our isles or its wildlife? I would think very little and would be surprised if they could tell the difference between a Starling and a Bonxie.

    An absolute sham and you have to ask who or what influenced these people to come to this decision, it just goes to show easy the wool can be pulled over the eyes!

    Reply
    • Peter Long

      I’m sure you’re right John, and I’m very sorry to see this trouble being put upon Shetland. What a nonsense and what a shame.

      Reply
  3. Suzy Jolly

    Outrageous! I, for one, would back Sustainable Shetland should they choose to file an Objection in the Supreme Court in London against the Judgment (Not sure of Scottish law but in English law, there is no ‘e’ in Judgment).

    Viking Energy does not have the universal backing of all those residing in Shetland. Who is going to pay for the interconnector? They still have to go through a planning application for the sub-station. Viking Energy can, quite frankly, go spin on it – you’re not wanted and most certainly are not welcomed. Not in my name.

    Reply
  4. Kathy Greaves

    A good reason for ‘overturning the consent’ again is the fact that Viking Energy promised – in writing, in their shiny brochure and during the so-called public consultations in 2007 – that they would not go ahead with the project unless the public wanted it. And they have never proved that we do want it; they have never asked if we want it or not.

    If the court of appeal knew that we were denied a vote, a referendum, on whether we, the residents of Shetland, actually wanted our land to be covered with giant wind turbines – which would not be for the benefit of our islanders, many of whom suffer from ‘fuel poverty’, there may well have been a different outcome.

    Reply
  5. Irene Kale

    Sorry to hear this monstrosity may go ahead. Shetland is one of the few Scottish islands I’ve not yet visited but I would not be rushing there in a hurry if this goes ahead. We live in an area of South Lanarkshire where you can see seven wind factories, including three of the largest in Scotland. No need to go visit more of them thanks. It is a truly a pointless scar on the landscape, making money for greedy developers who no doubt live several hundred miles away from the menace they are dumping in some other “NIMBY’s” back yard – doubt they’d want it in their own.

    Reply
  6. Sandy McMillan

    Where is Viking Energy going to get the millions that they will require to continue in the wacky race to erect these monstrosities, certainly not from the Shetland Charitable Trust, unless the SCT have a number of pots hidden that the public don’t know about, it just needs one slump in the stock exchange and SCT goes bust.
    Now we are told there are at least three consortiums waiting to get a finger in the pie, where did they all come from, they must have hanging around like the plague, waiting to pounce at the first opportunity, what this means instead of 130 windmills (sorry) MONSTOSITIES, There will be some where in the region of 400+.
    Who is in control of what lies ahead, it is certainly does not seem to be these numpties in the town Hall they are as useless as a —t in to the wind,
    Alex Salmond stated on a afternoon Scottish radio station, that there would not be any wind farms erected in and around Banff and Buchan as it would spoil the landscape, but it would be alright to put them in the Moray Firth, can this Council and the planning department not do some thing right for once and put in a objection, I thought we could trust the SNP but they are no better than the rest of them, back stabbing traitors, It is all to do with the greedy Shetlanders our own folk who are selling us doon da swannie, with not a thought for there neighbours, what happened to the thoughts of the locals like given us a say, there should have been a vote on if we wanted this or not, Shetlanders had better sign the petition of no confidence in the Shetland Islands Council

    Reply
  7. Drew Anderson

    As usual this victory for VE is firstly all about the money to be made. It’s obvious there is no respect for the people who are going to be forced to live with the turbines,the wildlife or the Shetland landscape. However there is still the issue of the cable to the Scottish mainland and by what I have been told nothing will happen with VE until it is 100% certain that the cable will be laid.
    Well done to Sustainable Shetland for having the determination to take on the big boys more so when they did not have the Shetland peoples Charitable Trust to fund them.

    Reply
  8. Donnie Morrison

    So our Lord Lieutenant Bobby Hunter has given ‘a hearty welcome’ (Shetland Times 11.07.14) to the news that the windfarm can now go ahead. As Chairman of the Charitable Trust Mr Hunter is well aware of Dr Sarah Taylor’s report that windfarms are detrimental to public health.
    The Lord Lieutenant is the Queen’s representative in these islands and he has now publicly made it known that money is of more importance than the health of Her subjects.
    Is this not at odds with the position he holds?

    Reply
  9. John Newman

    Viking energy if it every sees he light of day will go down in history as Shetlands biggest mistake. Let’s face it there is a long list of poor decisions made by the people in leadership positions in Shetland. Muppets!

    Reply
  10. Sandy McMillan

    We all seem to forget that it was when Sandy Cluness was the Convenor, and the mob that followed Sandy around that over ruled, the decision and sent the go ahead to the Scottish office,
    But we can’t forget there are still some of that vermin still around, and new members of the Council that are as bad if not worse.
    Well what can the general public do in a case like this, simple sign Ali Inksters petition, and tell them Them the Councillors to take a hike, The game now is all about pounds, Shillings and pence, make the rich richer and the poor poorer,
    Once they start erecting these Monstrosities Shetland is doomed, for a start the Gremista Power Station is on its last legs, and Shetland is not going to get a volt of power from this proposed wind farms, back to the Tilley lamps and candles.

    Reply
  11. Rosa Steppanova

    In response to Donnie Morrison’s comment the best I can offer is a Ghandi quote: “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”

    Reply
  12. Gregor Willson

    It the board of trustees of the SCT who need to be called to account here. We were promised that Viking would not go ahead if the people of Shetland didn’t want it. So where is the evidence that the majority want it? Any further spend of our money by the trustees without this clear mandate is a clear breach of trust. If they have the hubris to think otherwise then they should be brought to task, named and shamed.

    Reply
  13. Peter Scott

    Ultimately the economics don’t stack up because of the cost and transmitting efficiency of the interconnector coupled with the risk of further subsidy reductions for onshore wind electricity. The council, SCT and all the misguided Viking Energy supporters need. now to acknowledge the foolishness of their plans and admit they have been taken for a ride by their corporate partner who like a lot of businesses see Shetlands wealth and weak uninformed leadership as soft touch to exploit. Admit the games up SIC and the SCT and beg forgiveness from the people for both wasting our money and the way you have gone about your business.

    Reply
  14. Antony Murphy

    Shetland appeal to a lot of people is it’s quality of life which is in a large part due to its environment. Viking if it ever see the light of day is going to ruin that and then what will we have left, not much in my opinion.

    Reply
  15. Robert Lowes

    He should’ve noticed that.

    Reply

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