Frightening prospect (Rosa Steppanova)

I hear Chris Bunyan wants to “sit around the table” with Sustainable Shetland.

I don’t believe his dream will become reality. Sustainable Shetland is in all likelihood the largest ever constituted community group in the history of the Shetland Islands and represents over 800 individuals.

Bunyan and his little band of fellow wind fundamentalists have yet to state who they represent, apart from Viking Energy.

Bunyan’s windfarm supporters group reminds me of those naïve individuals used as mouth pieces by various industries in the past to whitewash and lend credibility to controversial and environmentally damaging developments.

These individuals were paraded as “the voice of reason” and said to represent the so-called “silent majority, too frightened to speak out” in the face of justified and concerted opposition.

The Viking Energy windfarm has already done untold damage to Shetland. It has ridden roughshod over local democracy and left countless members of this community feeling disenfranchised and unheard.

That elusive pot of wind gold has led to years of blinkered decision-making by the SIC and Shetland Charitable Trust, such as the pathetic deal struck with Total and countless missed investment opportunities in the local economy.

It goes without saying that the £10 million spent on Viking Energy to date has led to deeper spending cuts than would otherwise have been necessary.

Shetland is one of the richest places in the UK and voluntary organisations such as Women of Worth and Shetland Bereavement Support Service had to close their doors due to lack of funding. The damage still to come is unimaginable.

We now have a court ruling that gives carte blanche to developers regardless of environmental damage caused in general and to protected and endangered species in particular.

This is a frightening prospect and there is little doubt that, if the 103 Viking Energy turbines are erected, they will be followed by many more (an additional 50 are already planned for Yell and Unst).

This is not about saving the environment, as Viking Energy and the wind fundamentalists would have us believe, but about greed and the prospect of riches for the few. It is going to bring about the wholesale destruction of Shetland’s environment and unique landscape.

An equally frightening prospect is that 70 of the 103 turbines are still less than the recommended 2km from dwellings, leaving the individuals and families occupying them highly vulnerable and in great uncertainty regarding their future quality of life, health, amenity, and property values.

Their concerns have been dismissed by Viking Energy and its supporters group. I can’t help wondering what this says to the world about us, the Shetland community?

Ghandi’s immortal words spring to mind: “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”

Rosa Steppanova
Lea Gardens,
Tresta.

16 comments

  1. Stewart Mac

    I sincerely regret that the Courts in Scotland have run roughshod over the principles of natural justice but that is what we are faced with. Unless there is a further appeal to basically the “final result”. However the cynic in me says ” what did you really expect?” We live in a land where the (in)justice secretary blatently disregards consultations that do not agree with his specific preconceived thoughts overseen by a Westminster that deliberate and as a matter of policy attacks the weakest &most vulnerable in our society (cue ATOS and its multimillion £ donations to Conservative coffers in exchange for a lucrative contract to attack the sick & disabled) in a week when we saw this Government effectively give away £1bn to investors in Royal Mail and call it “froth” did we REALLY expect the result would be any different to what has come to pass? Sustainable Shetland may well be one of the largest groups ever to be formed in Shetland but at barely 3% of the population did you ever really expect if would be given any more than lip service in the pursuit of the all powerful £ in the pocket? Unless the population of Shetland orvanises itself and sustainable Shetland can clearly show they speak for the majority then I fear the powers that be will simply roll out their ever popular weapon “might is right” and the entire Shetland landscape will be decimated by an Ill conceived ill implemented wind farm plan.after all in a location like sheyland ,and if the £ was not king its not as if sitting the turbines on remote or even uninhabited islands would add greatly to the projects overall costs and anyone from Viking Energy that suggests differently is a fool not only to thrmselves. I sincerely and wholeheartedly hope to be proved wrong but I fear that Viking energy is simply another symbol (or 103 to be exact) of everything that is wrong with this country and this society today.we will likely live long enough to rue the day this scheme came to pass

    Reply
  2. Johan Adamson

    Rosa, your letter made me weep. For what we are about to lose, and for what we are about to gain – a room with a view of a giant industrial site, because we will see these windmills everywhere we go. It will be like being stuck in Whitelees forever, with no where else to go. A big wilderness of turbines, roads & quarries.

    Reply
  3. Rosa Steppanova

    Re Stewart Mac – SuS repeatedly called for a local referendum on the VE windfarm, which, for reasons outlined below, was not granted. The then SIC convener Sandy Cluness promised that if the Shetland population didn’t want the windfarm, it wouldn’t go ahead. SIC held several VE consultation meetings in various locations, at each one a clear majority (averaging 75%) was against. This fact was simply ignored by SIC. Objections to the Energy Consents Unit vastly outnumbered those of support, which should have triggered a Public Local Inquiry. Opinion polls carried out by the Shetland Times showed a clear majority against the windfarm. Letters written to the local media opposing this development outnumbered those supporting it four to one. SIC planning consent, against the advice of its own planning department, was based on a minority decision. As I said in my letter, local democracy ceased to exist.

    Reply
  4. Colin Hunter

    “It goes without saying that the £10 million spent on Viking Energy to date has led to deeper spending cuts than would otherwise have been necessary.”

    I wonder how much of that money had to be spent fighting ridiculous court cases? And I wonder who was responsible for bringing those court cases? Funny how some people still try to take the moral high ground even when they are very likely the guilty parties!

    Nice one “Sustainable” Shetland!

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Yes, Colin, it’s a great pity the SIC/SCT didn’t hold a referendum on the Viking project.

      Had the public voted in favour of the development, as wind farm proponents insist they would, then there would surely have been no court case?

      It’s the brazen attempt to ride roughshod over the wishes of the disenfranchised majority and the shoddy political dealings associated with that which has generated the fury and the overwhelming support for SuS in the form of donations to help finance their court campaign.

      I hope they continue their battle in the courts but, meanwhile, the only game in town for opponents of both the Viking wind farm and the rural school closures is the “No confidence in SIC” petition, available for signing online and in local shops.

      By the time the next round of legal wrangling is over, the petition will no longer exist so those who don’t sign now are placing great faith in the UK justice system whose key members, like their Scottish counterparts, are appointed by the government.

      Reply
    • Donnie Morrison

      Although the snide little comment by Colin Hunter really doesn’t merit a reply I’d like to ask him a simple question.
      Is the money which ‘may’ be raised from Viking Energy more important than the health of many of his fellow islanders?
      A simple yes or no will do.

      Reply
      • Colin Hunter

        Sorry, but I don’t buy the “windmills affect health” school of thought. I have heard all the arguments about light flicker causing fits etc. I have no doubt that does cause fits in some people, but surely it’s the frequency of the flicker that’s the trigger? Is that not more likely to be caused by the small “personal” turbines that now seem to be springing up all over the place, rather than the large ones that barely seem to be moving in comparison.
        I also don’t buy the argument that they are noisy. The small ones are, but the large ones can hardly be heard at all. The ones at Burradale only make a faint swishing noise that can be heard if you really stand and listen. So NO, I don’t think peoples health will be affected, but if you want to reach out your hand and switch on the light in the future, the power to enable you to do so has to come from somewhere.
        Pity we can’t harness the hot air that’s been spouted during the various debates on this subject.

  5. Rosa Steppanova

    Re Colin Hunter – Please let’s stick to facts. SuS took Scottish Ministers to court, not VE. There was absolutely no need for VE to spend a single penny of our money on the Judicial Review.

    Reply
  6. Evelyn Morrison

    Re Colin Hunter –
    Infrasound changes the structure of certain organs ie; heart, lungs, eyeball and brain.
    ‘There is increasing evidence that both acute and chronic exposure to operating wind turbines can cause serious problems for people not just within 2km but well beyond depending on their size, the topography, the prevailing winds and the duration of exposure.’
    Dr Sarah Lawrie, Waubra Foundation.

    Reply
  7. Ian Brown

    Rosa Steppanova says “It goes without saying that the £10 million spent on Viking Energy to date has led to deeper spending cuts than would otherwise have been necessary.”

    It goes without saying because it would be a bare face lie if you were to say it.

    You have me wondering if you apply the same lax attitude to facts when you carry out your journalistic work?
    Or do you just throw rantionale out the window when you write about wind farms?

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Why did the Shetland Charitable Trust stop providing financial support for elderly people forced to stay in care homes at up to about £1000 per week, depending on which one they’re deposited in, with or without their life partner?

      Reply
  8. James Mackenzie

    It would appear to me that Colin Hunter has not read Dr. Sarah Taylor’s report to Shetland Charitable Trust on the health impacts of windfarms, which can be found here: http://www.shb.scot.nhs.uk/board/publichealth/documents/Report_on_Health_Impacts_Wind_Farms.pdf

    Nor does he seem to be aware of the research literature into infra-sound effects of large turbines.

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Selective perception, James. The sight of the dollar signs and the clinking of cash registers drowns out all else.

      Reply
  9. Colin Hunter

    You’re right. I have never even heard of Dr Sarah Taylor or her report. As a Marine Engineer who has spent his entire working life in Ships engine rooms, working alongside both large high speed turbines and large bore diesel engines of up to 32,000 BHP, all of which produce copious quantities of both high and low frequency noise, which is then magnified inside a steel box, I fail to understand how a wind turbine 2 KM or more away could even begin to affect anyone. Surely if that was the case then Marine Engineers would be dropping like flies! If you go to some rock concerts, I am told you can actually feel the sound waves in your chest cavity! Are rock fans also going to die? I will admit to hearing damage but it’s not selective, just a fact of life for some engineers.
    It seems to me that SS have double standards regarding what is and is not an acceptable blot on the landscape. What about the fact that nearly every Voe and sound is now filled with unsightly mussel and salmon farms? Does that put the tourists off? Or is it just me that laments the fact that I can hardly take a photo without them in it these days.

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      You aren’t the only one who has worked in a diesel engine room and if you stand near large diesel engines you can feel the vibration in your rib cage. That means it’s shaking every atom in your body, including the brain.

      Working for long periods in such conditions most definitely causes, as a minimum, considerable stress. I have personal experience of this over many years.

      Infrasound, which I’m sure as an engineer you realise, travels much farther than audible sound, indeed, it’s believed whales can communicate using it across hundreds of miles of sea and, prior to the intrusion of motor ships, possibly, thousands of miles.

      High energy infrasound cannot, therefore, be dismissed lightly.

      Ill health effects associated with wind farms are a new theory for which evidence is still being researched, however, to dismiss Dr Taylor’s erudite study (I have read it) in such an offhand way suggests a degree of blinkered arrogance on your part.

      Scepticism is healthy and should be followed up with investigation, as opposed, dare I say it, to “denial”.

      Reply
    • Robert Sim

      It’s not an acceptable blot on the landscape for a number of reasons; but one of them is that the rush to renewables – which in Scotland has meant unsightly wind turbines – will leave us with a skewed and vulnerable electricity-generation system north of the border. We will be left with a situation where the baseload supply from nuclear or coal etc which is necessary to underpin more erratic wind is neglected (there is evidence of that in the Scottish Government’s present approach to this area) and we will then be overdependent on relatively unpredictable windpower. An independent Scotland would then be left trying to buy reliable power from foreign countries, eg rUK, who don’t have to sell it to us. If we are not independent, the situation is still not good.

      Reply

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