29th May 2017

Windfarm opponents’ legal challenge fails

83 comments, , by , in Headlines, News

A final legal challenge against the Viking Energy windfarm by campaigners has failed.

The UK’s highest court of appeal, The Supreme Court, this morning dismissed the final attempt by Sustainable Shetland to prevent the 103-turbine development from being built.

Shetland Charitable Trust holds a 45 per cent stake in the windfarm development. Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and Viking Wind Ltd, comprising the four developers of the Burradale windfarm, are the project’s other partners.

The lobby group had argued against the Scottish government’s consent for the controversial development.

But judges also declined to refer it to the European Court of Justice.

Chairman of Viking Energy, Alan Bryce, said: “We are delighted the Supreme Court has endorsed the planning consent for Viking windfarm, granted in April 2012.

“We can now concentrate on developing what would be one of the world’s most productive windfarms, to generate renewable energy and significant income for the Shetland community.

“I would like to thank all those who have supported us in reaching this positive outcome. Viking Energy looks forward to making progress during 2015.”

Click on image to enlarge.

Shetland Charitable Trust chairman Bobby Hunter – “delighted” by the decision.

Chairman of Shetland Charitable Trust, Bobby Hunter, said: “I am delighted by this decision. The Supreme Court is the highest tribunal available for any UK appeal, and this decision is a model of clarity.

“I very much regret the amount of time which has been wasted, but of course, that is now water under the bridge.

“At the Shetland Charitable Trust we now look forward to working with our advisers to establish the best options for trustees to consider. Viking Energy is a huge and complex project, and I am confident that any decision will be based on the best available advice.”

Meanwhile, Sustainable Shetland, has voiced its disappointment by the ruling, and insisted its opposition to the windfarm remains “undiminished”. The group now faces legal costs of up to £50,000.

A joint statement compiled by chairman Frank Hay, vice chairman James Mackenzie and secretary Robina Barton said: “We are naturally very disappointed to hear that our appeal to the Supreme Court has been unsuccessful, and are keenly aware that it will be distressing for our many members and supporters who enabled us to challenge the Scottish Ministers’ planning consent for the Viking windfarm.

“Our opposition to the windfarm – and its dire implications for the Shetland community and environment – remains undiminished.

“What we do next, as far as that is concerned, depends to a certain extent on a properly considered reading of the judgment, on what options are available to us outwith legal action, and on the wishes of our members.

“Our main priority for now, however, is to honour our financial commitments which are considerable, and for which we shall continue to fund-raise.

“Finally, we wish to extend our sincere gratitude to all those who have supported us, and continue to do so, in a campaign which is surely unprecedented in Shetland’s history.”

The group set up in support of the Viking Energy project, the Windfarm Supporters Group, has welcomed the news.

Spokesman Chris Bunyan said: “The highest courts in Scotland and UK have now both strongly backed the Scottish government’s approval for the windfarm.

“The legal actions have resulted in a delay of nearly three years – and a delay in the charitable trust getting new income – and achieved little or nothing except huge bills from lawyers for hundreds of thousands of pounds.

“With an end to the legal arguments, the value of the Viking project, even as an undeveloped windfarm, will have soared. The charitable trust will no doubt take the best professional advice on the economics of the project and whether it should continue with its investment and if so how it can be financed.

“The UK and Scottish governments, both of which back the Viking project, are confident of sorting out issues of connecting the islands to the national grid and supporting a new renewable energy industry in the islands.

“Finally, how long will opponents keep up the divisive campaign? When can we all begin to work together for the good of the islands and ensure Shetland gets the best and safest deal possible from the windfarm?

“An environmental advisory group is proposed for the windfarm – similar to the respected and successful one at Sullom Voe – and I wonder if Sustainable Shetland should be invited to nominate an expert to be part of it.

“Some might say let’s make the best of a bad deal – we would say lets make the best of a good deal.”

The legal battle began when Sustainable Shetland brought a judicial review against the Scottish government’s decision of April 2012 to grant consent.

The Court of Session upheld Sustainable Shetland’s appeal, with Lady Clark of Calton ruling that planning consent should be set aside. Lady Clark’s ruling also found that Scottish ministers did not take sufficient heed of the 2009 EU Wild Birds Directive, and specifically the impact on 290 breeding pairs of a rare wading bird, the whimbrel – of which Shetland is home to 95 per cent of the UK population.

That was overturned last summer by the Inner House of the Court of Session, which said ministers acted lawfully in giving the project consent. And it emerged that if a windfarm was built, that would not necessarily preclude the area being declared a special protection area in future.

Sustainable Shetland then decided to take the fight on, appealing to the Supreme Court.

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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83 comments

  1. Jonathan Wills

    “Options outwith legal action”?
    I understand the disappointment of local windfarm opponents at the unanimous and unambiguous judgment of the Supreme Court on the Viking planning appeal, but I was concerned to see Sustainable Shetland’s chairman Frank Hay quoted as saying the group would be looking at options available to them “outwith legal action“.
    Whatever can he mean? The objectors have exercised their right of appeal to the highest legal authority in the land and they’ve lost. End of story, surely? I very much hope that, for the sake of the community at large, the members of SS will now accept the court’s decision.
    What other options might they have? Well, like everyone else, they have the right to continue monitoring the Viking project and to complain to the authorities if it doesn’t comply with the stringent planning conditions imposed upon it by a democratically elected government. I hope they’ll exercise that right, along with their fellow citizens.
    Members of Sustainable Shetland are not the only people “distressed” by the long and expensive delay. Their distressing legal actions were funded in part by the rest of us – through their undisputed right of access to public funds to protect them from the full legal costs involved.
    When they first instructed lawyers, SS did so in the clear knowledge that the effect of going to court would be to delay and disrupt a project which at that time promised massive benefits to the Shetland people’s charitable trust. That was, indeed, their intention and to some extent they’ve succeeded: because of the delay, the Shetland Charitable Trust and its many beneficiaries (who include but far outnumber the membership of SuS) will now earn considerably less from the project. That’s because the government operating subsidy to windfarms is now less generous than it was, and also because the money the trustees invested in good faith, on the best available financial advice, will now produce dividends much later than was anticipated before the repeated attempts to sabotage Viking. The income thus lost can never be recovered. For this the objectors, in their “undiminished” opposition, will of course blame not themselves, but the trustees, for investing in Viking in the first place.
    As for the bird that caused all the fuss, the peerie whaup or whimbrel, Numenius phaeopus, the Supreme Court has it got right that the Viking planning conditions do as much as practicable to protect its Shetland habitat. It is indeed a rare British species but it’s rather common across Canada, Alaska and northern Eurasia. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature rates its global conservation status as of “least concern”.
    As Birdlife International explains:
    “This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion … Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (up to a 30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (less than 10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be more than 10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.”
    No doubt we’ve not heard the last of the alleged human health effects of wind turbines, although it’s noticeable that this concern formed no part of Sustainable Shetland’s legal actions. That may be because their lawyers advised them it wouldn’t stand up in court. I’m willing to be persuaded that there may be such ill effects if badly planned windfarms are sited too close to people’s houses. I’ve looked at windfarms in Alaska, Patagonia, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain and the UK. I’ve seen some that were very badly planned and ought never to have been built, being far too densely packed and too near houses. But this is not a badly planned windfarm, and it’s not just me who says so.
    So I hope, but hardly expect, that we’ll hear no more from the self-appointed saviours of Shetland, whose well-intentioned actions and sincerely-held beliefs have already caused so much damage to the public interest.

    Councillor Jonathan Wills
    Independent, Lerwick South ward
    Town Hall
    Lerwick

    Reply
    • Michael Garriock

      Mr. Wills, Despite your most splendid oratory, it remains that VE will die in debt.

      No-one in Shetland or elsewhere, outwith the individuals permitted in to the inner sanctum of VE, have been privy to adequate information on the VE project to be able to achieve a fully informed opinion on the “goodness”, or otherwise, of the project. The hallmark of the project, as with virtually all SIC and SCT business, has been “trust us, we know what we’re doing”.

      Reply
      • Michael Garriock

        For reasons unknown, my above comment seems to have been published with the last line missing. It should read:

        “The hallmark of the project, as with virtually all SIC and SCT business, has been “trust us, we know what we’re doing”.

        In answer to that, we don’t, and you don’t.

    • John Tulloch

      Jonathan,

      You wrote:

      “That’s (why SCT will get less money) because the government operating subsidy to windfarms is now less generous than it was….”

      2.5 times the rate for fossil fuel energy plus, at least, several hundred million pounds for a submarine cable isn’t enough?

      That doesn’t sound very socially-conscious to me?

      What about those in fuel poverty who have to pay for this, who must choose whether to “heat or eat” and are being driven to food banks for food because they can’t afford both?

      “Let them eat cake”?

      Reply
  2. Johan Adamson

    There still is no cable, despite assurances

    Look forward to Shetland depopulating even more. Thanks a lot SCT/ SSE

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Don’t worry, Johan, once Scotland is independent, perhaps, the Scottish Government will install one for you?

      Reply
      • Johan Adamson

        They cant afford it

        And so many new members they cant all fall for the windfarm con, surely?

      • John Tulloch

        Alistair Carmichael and Ed Davey are trying to push throughgh the cable before the election because they know they won’t have any power after it.

        However, even if they manage to get it agreed, what is to stop the next government, which may be Conservative-led, possibly, in coalition with UKIp, from putting a red pen through it?

        That’s why the SNP had the Supreme Court hearing brought forward – to try and get it signed and sealed before the election.

  3. Michael Garriock

    “Finally, how long will opponents keep up the divisive campaign? When can we all begin to work together for the good of the islands and ensure Shetland gets the best and safest deal possible from the windfarm?”

    Sometime after there have been several successive frigid days in hell, Mr Bunyan.

    No amount of patronising sounds bites will change minds, nor should they. There are more reasons than you could shake a stick at, why a number of Shetlanders believe VE is an extremely bad idea, and nothing anyone can say or do can or will alter that opinion.

    Shetlanders are frequently split around 50/50 on many local issues, this is just one of them. Be grateful you have the opportunity to front the cheerleading squad on this one, you may not find yourself so lucky concerning some future issue you feel strongly about. Either way, realise and accept in this case, as in most cases, opposition once cultivated, will always remain omnipresent and equally as entrenched in their beliefs, as you do in yours.

    Reply
  4. Suzy Jolly

    I bet if they decided to scrap the windfarm, there wouldn’t be such a problem in filling the vacancies at the SCT.

    Reply
  5. John Jamieson

    Is there any explanation why the greatest decline in the whimbrel population has been in the controlled environment in Fetlar ?

    Reply
  6. Hugh Jamieson

    Well said Jonathan, I for one welcome your strength of character in standing up for the future of Shetland. This project will bring wealth and jobs to Shetland.

    Please think again about your position at the next council elections as we need your ability to stand up for the greater good in these islands.

    Reply
  7. Donnie Morrison

    Chris Bunyan has said the delays caused by legal action have achieved little or nothing except huge bills from lawyers for hundreds of thousands of pounds. How much of the huge bill did the windfarm supporters group have to meet?
    Just to remind everyone the now ‘independent’ chairman of the Charitable Trust is the former spokesman for the windfarm supporters group – Lord Lieutenant Bobby Hunter.
    My God, you coodna mak hit up.

    Reply
  8. iantinkler

    Now for Human Rights legeslation for those undividuals threatened by living underneath the turbines. Thank God for Legal Aid , could be much fun to come. truly not over till “The Fat Lady Sings”.

    Reply
  9. Hugh Jamieson

    Good grief Mr Tinkler, Three words come to mind – straws, clutching and at. Arrange them to suit. I see you giving advice to the pro Independance to please stop as they lost, why don’t you take your own advice.

    Reply
    • Ali Inkster

      Maybe he keeps carrying on because the only time it was put to the public of Shetland it was rejected by a large margin. This is why it was not put to a referendum in the minds of many, and as such will continue to cause a great deal of disharmony in Shetland.
      One thing this does prove is that if the people of Shetland want any say in how these islands are managed for the benefit of those that live here and not for those that have no care, then home rule is a must.

      Reply
      • Brian Smith

        It might be worse with home rule, Ali. Remember the period 1710-1886.

      • John Tulloch

        Was that the lengthy period during which Shetlanders ruled Shetland in a reign of terror with no recourse to Scottish or UK law for aggrieved residents, Brian?

        Which was brought to an end by Gladstone’s Crofters Holdings (Scotland) Act, 1886?

      • Ali Inkster

        Unless you are trying to tell me that the period from 1710 to 1886 was some previously unknown period of Shetland independence I don’t see your point. As far as I’m aware we were ruled by folks far to the south with no care for these isles except what could be exploited. Just like today.

      • Hugh Jamieson

        I seem to remember two types of vote:
        1) a petition where people were badgered into signing a petition against the windmills. I know quite a few people when asked why the signed, gave the answer that it got rid of them and gave them peace. Hardly democratic!

        2) the Shetland Times straw poll where the majority were in favour when asked their opinion without being goaded one way or the other.

      • Brian Smith

        From 1710 until the late nineteenth century there was a very successful home rule regime in Shetland, with native Shetlanders in charge.
        In July 1835 an Irish Quaker successfully ‘sprung’ from captivity a young man who was being held against his will by a Shetland landlord.
        In due course the visitor met the procurator fiscal, James Greig of Sandsound, in Lerwick sheriff court.
        ‘Sir!’ barked the fiscal. ‘You acted very improperly by interfering in such a cruel manner in the peace of a private family.’
        ‘I did nothing more’, the Irishman began, ‘than an act of justice which British law will recognize …’
        ‘Sir!’ repeated the fiscal. (The fiscal!) ‘You shall soon see that British laws will not answer in this country, and that you shall not come up here to act as you please.’
        The Irishman wrote: ‘I came to Shetland intending to liberate one individual only, and I found 22,000 grievously oppressed by a few lairds.’

      • Michael Garriock

        No, Brian, Shetland was ruled by a cabal of self-appointed, self-transplanted Scots aided and abetted by a few quislings driven to brown-nosing by their own greed.

        The descendants of the original self-transplanted Scots may well have been born and bred in Shetland, but they were no more “Shetlanders” than Gandhi. They stood apart as aliens througout the generations by their self-created, self-enforced breeding program, chosen lifestyle and to a degree their religion.

      • Ali Inkster

        Scottish laws and Scottish lairds Brian. A dug may be born in a stable but that does not make it a horse.

      • Brian Smith

        You can say it again and again, Michael and Ali, but you Garriocks and Inksters are Shetlanders born and bred – as were the folk in control in Shetland in 1835. What they were doing was home-grown – no parallel anywhere in Scotland.
        Your version of Shetland history was dreamed up by nationalist historians, Norwegians and Scots, in the nineteenth century, and bears no relation to reality. It is romance.

      • Robert Duncan

        Very interesting, Brian. Can you recommend any further reading?

      • Michael Garriock

        Those in charge may well have been “home grown” as you put it Brian. However what you are failing to factor in is that they, like their ancestors before them who had created the system, lived in their own micro-society detached as far as it was possible from the rest of the population and still share the same rock. Whether how they controlled Shetland and Shetlanders was using a unique system or not is irrelevant, the point is they controlled it in a manner that was oppressive to all Shetlanders unless their own elite cabal, while living a lifestyle the polar opposite of all Shetlanders not of their own “class”, and when it came down to it valued being a “Scot” and looked to Scotland for inspiration in a way wholly alien to Shetlanders outwith their self styled status.

        As for such being a romantic concept dreamed up by foreign historians in the 19th C. It seems strange that tales which still survive that originated from Shetlanders of the non-elite class who were born before the 19th C. was very old, and who almost certainly never heard of such historians, let alone their theories, are in agreement with such supposedly fictional concepts. Similarly documentation left behind by some of the ruling elite pre 19th C. also goes some way to prove there was a decided lack of romance anywhere near the subject.

        Certainly there’s little argument the period provided what the ruling elite would have described as “successful” home rule from their perspective, but that’s a wholly different thing to successful home rule for Shetland. Shetland was picked to the bone as far as the then technology allowed, and Shetlanders outwith the ruling cabal just about managed to save the breed. If that’s a definition of “successful”, I dread to think what the definition of “failure” may be.

      • Ali Inkster

        And one other thing Brian it would seem that the fiscal you mention was of the opinion that Shetland was not part of the UK now whatever could of given him that idea?

      • John Tulloch

        Good story, Brian, the Irish fellow had guts. I was intrigued by this bit:

        “‘Sir!’ repeated the fiscal. (The fiscal!) ‘You shall soon see that British laws will not answer in this country…”

        Q1. Which laws would have answered “in this country..”, if any?

        Q2. I’m thinking that the Irish guy was actually on trial (?) – or did he simply “meet” the fiscal in the court premises?

      • Ali Inkster

        Brian the in period you mention, just how could this home rule of been exercised if as you claim Shetland was part of Scotland? What you have described is the period when Shetland was treated by its scottish overlords as a colony which is exactly what it is. The next ninety odd years we may not of suffered the slavery of the previous time but scotland did bugger all good for Shetland in that time. Any benefit we have seen recently has come from the pittance we got in the Busta House deal.

      • Brian Smith

        The Irishman wasn’t on trial – he met the fiscal by accident – but for a while he thought he was. At one point he noticed that Lerwick’s upper classes were observing him through telescopes as he walked through the town.

        The ‘laws’ the fiscal thought were in force were just customs and practices which he regarded as useful to him and his peers.

  10. Neil Pearson

    I only wish that the decision regarding the development of the VE windfarm had been put to a public democratic vote (Yes or No). If the majority of us wanted it and were in support of it and its financial benefits then as with any election we would agree that the majority regardless of the outcome would be accepted.

    Personally i am devastated that so much of our beautiful landscape is potentially about to be destroyed purely for a financial benefit that (i believe) so few of us are actually in favour of.

    You could offer me all the money in the world but if it came to a choice between selling out my beloved shetland for a few more quid in our rainy day fund or struggling on with what little we have………….. i’d pick struggle every time.

    Reply
    • Johan Adamson

      I agree, time for that public enquiry or at least some indication of how many are in favour of this

      Reply
  11. Linda Tait

    This is still a highly speculative, high-risk project whose “green” credentials are highly suspect. A legal judgement doesn’t change that, so why would its opposers change their views? If anyone needs to examine their conscience it is the ones who value greed and profit above all else, and who accept conflicts of interest as being the new norm.

    Reply
    • Hugh Jamieson

      Conscience does not put food on the table, this project will create jobs!

      Reply
      • Suzy Jolly

        All 35 of them and destroy those of others working in other sectors.

  12. Robina Barton

    I’m surprised that Dr Wills has not realised that the Whimbrel he has seen in Alaska is the Hudsonian Whimbrel (Numenius hudsonicus), now recognised by most authorities, including the British Ornithologists’ Union, as a separate species to our Eurasian Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus).

    Reply
    • Jonathan Wills

      I stand corrected on that point, Robina. But I didn’t say I’d seen a Numenius phaopus whimbrel in Alaska. The status of their Hudsonian Whimbrel is also listed as of least concern, or so I understand from the IUCN.
      The fact remains that, on balance and on the evidence, the Viking windfarm is not a threat to the conservation status of the whimbrel, notwithstanding allegations to the contrary. The habitat protection plan which forms part of the windfarm project is, as SNH and the Supreme Court have confirmed, the only proposal on the table to preserve and protect a portion of the whimbrel’s Shetland nesting grounds. The number of these birds in the Fetlar special protection area has actually declined, so there is clearly a need to do something. Restoring the degraded peatlands in the central mainland is a good way to start.
      I recommend reading the actual judgment of the Supreme Court.

      Reply
  13. Johnny Smith

    The best news Shetland has had this year. Now all that is required is the cable – two cables in fact as there is scope for many more wind turbines here in Shetland. We on Bressay could errect many such units which could help with FREE fares on the Bressay Ferry and much, much more. The loss of £50,000 is miniscule, it’s a pity you lot fighting the planned wind farm were not billed £50million as it would of served you right. The result of the hearing was correct, just like the vote for the SNP (Nugent – remember him?) independence which resulted in a huge financial loss to the general public…

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Absolutely, Johnny, the cable for Bressay turbines could be very cheaply installed through a road tunnel, too, which would open up Bressay for harbour developments, as well.

      Then you’d have to re-open yon boannie skuyl at you hae!

      It is about time Bressay got a fair crack of the whip with all the money that’s churning around.

      Reply
    • Ali Inkster

      The result in the referendum was decided democratically, the result of the windfarm was decided far away by a handful of folk with little thought or care for Shetland. Put the windfarm to a referendum of the people of Shetland then you can claim the decision is the correct one even if it is still foolhardy and dangerous or over cautious depending on how it goes.

      Reply
  14. iantinkler

    Clasping at straws? Every single resident within one kilometer of a VE turbine has a legal case to raise on several issues, health, nuisance, property value and safety, just to name the most obvious. Legal aid!, no win no fee!, independent legal action? I think VE viability, profits and potential investors’ incomes may be rather more speculative than some believe. Just how many straws does it take to make a rope to hang this unpleasant project? Interesting times ahead.

    Reply
  15. john irvine

    Neil Pearson
    Brilliant comment, I could not agree more!

    Reply
  16. William Nisbet Urquhart

    Having seen the spread of wind turbines gradually growing in upland, moorland and coastal regions of the UK for some time, I have a question.
    As I understand it, their lifespan is around 25 years. They occur in inaccessible areas and are expensive to maintain. They are run by private companies, benefiting the investors, to sell energy to the general public who are all paying for the energy used AND a portion of the Government subsidy that creates the generator farms.
    Now the question; if and when these installations become uneconomical, no longer profitable, or if a different energy source becomes the way to go, who pays for the decommissioning of the turbines, towers, access roads & tracks and the reinstatement of the countryside ?
    Second question; was decommissioning and reinstatement of the land’s former use considered through the planning and legal battles ?

    Reply
  17. Julian Arculus

    Jonathan Wills… Sustainable Shetland have caused no delay. Predictably, Interconnector costs stalled the project years ago, at great expense. Blame the VE Business Plan for that.

    Reply
  18. James Mackenzie

    In answer to John Jamieson’s enquiry about whimbrel in Fetlar, the RSPB has been undertaking research on this, please see the following link with contact details:
    http://www.rspb.org.uk/whatwedo/projects/details/258010-determining-the-causes-of-whimbrel-declines-in-shetland

    Reply
    • John Jamieson

      Thanks, no findings as yet.

      Reply
  19. Johan Adamson

    On top of the huge devastation this is going to bring, I cant see how we can afford it. Hundreds of tonnes of peat to move, hundreds of tonnes of steel, concrete, hardcore etc, massive cranes to get here, it cant be financially viable, not to mention the hundreds of millions required for a cable. And they admit they dont have the expertise to manage such a massive project, they are going to buy in expertise. Roll on the gold rush. Like the channel tunnel the costs of building it will take a life time to recover. We wont be getting a penny.

    Why is Shetland having the largest windfarm in Scotland? Or were STV wrong about that? It is just a disgrace.

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Johan,

      If my understanding of the size of turbine foundations is correct, it will be thousands of tonnes of concrete per turbine!

      (A cube of water 10m x 10m x 10m weighs a 1000Te).

      Reply
    • Johan Adamson

      thousands of tonnes of peat to move, then

      Do you think they are looking at the income stream without looking at the ROI? I am sure the return for each £1 invested is higher for SCT just investing in a balanced portfolio on the stock market or if they just held millions of premium bonds

      Reply
      • John Tulloch

        I widna be a bit surprised.

        If dey offert da public shares itae da windy-spells I widna buy wan!

  20. Johan Adamson

    Disturbed peat causes cancer

    http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/doctor-claims-scotlands-biggest-windfarm-4881760

    Doesnt matter about the residents tho, does it?

    Reply
    • Shuard Manson

      Does dat mean castin peats will Give me cancer? Or can I fit some kinda guard tae me Tushkar dat will save me health? Worried! Da midgies was bad enough!

      Reply
      • Johan Adamson

        No, but if da carbon sink waater fae dy paet hill meets the chlorine in the public supply it will produce these carcinogens. I mind when we haed broon waater, soonds the sam.

  21. John Tulloch

    It’s noted in the Bible that “a prophet is never revered in his own country” ; circumstances, no doubt, familiar to Stuart Hill. However, his campaign, along with the Viking Energy issue, has attracts considerable attention down here, in Argyll.

    Readers may find the following, linked article in the Argyll online newsblog “For Argyll” of interest, which, before anyone suggests it, was neither written by me, nor contains any input from me.

    http://forargyll.com/2015/02/fused-controversies-the-viking-energy-windfarm-and-the-sovereignty-of-shetland/

    Reply
  22. Vivienne Rendall

    In Northumberland in 2012 a turbine stem fell off a lorry. The road was closed for five days. With 103 such turbines-probably even bigger-there will inevitably be accidents.
    The whole project seems like a disaster waiting to happen.
    I think the peak times for wind farms is past. They are not particularly effective, and the enormous cost and destruction of Mainland don’t seem worth the risk to me, a sooth moother who has been visiting Shetland for the past 45 years.

    Reply
    • John Jamieson

      There are risks with all forms of energy generation. I believe that about thirty years ago a fuel rod or something fell into a carbon emission free nuclear reactor in Kiev Oblast and numerous roads have been closed ever since.

      Reply
      • Johan Adamson

        We need to know the pros and cons of all types of energy generation before we act, not just go for the next best (unproven) thing. Fracking has been stopped because of the unknowns, so should windfarms

  23. James Mackenzie

    To William Nisbet Urquhart:
    Question 1. Decommissioning and “reinstatement” would presumably be paid by the developer, although as far as the latter is concerned, turbine bases and roads would remain (though 10 metre wide double track roads would be converted to 6 metre single track as a restoration measure), and quarries would be left filled with excavated peat to 1.7 metres depth – if I recall correctly.
    Question 2. These were considered in the planning process (in the VE Environmental Statement and Addendum, and responses to these) but not in the legal process.
    To Jonathan Wills: It may be true that at the time of the Scottish Ministers’ decision letter in 2012 the Viking Energy habitat management plan was “the only proposal on the table to preserve and protect a portion of the whimbrel’s Shetland nesting grounds”, but I do not recall that SNH or that the Supreme Court declared as much, only the ministers. (The court judgement quoted the ministers’ declaration as part of the background to the case – and I have, incidentally, read the actual judgement several times.)
    But you should know that that there is now a Peatland Restoration Project operating in Shetland, instigated by the Shetland Mire Conservation Group (in which both Viking Energy and Sustainable Shetland are represented as interested parties), and that this is part of a national project funded by the Scottish Government though SNH. The project, however, is not dependent on any windfarm.

    Reply
  24. Robina Barton

    Jonathan, I read the full Supreme Court judgement on Friday morning when I received it from our legal team, in strictest confidence, in advance of Monday’s announcement.
    Robina Barton, Secretary, Sustainable Shetland

    Reply
  25. Vivienne Rendall

    Am I wrong in thinking that each turbine stands on a block of hundreds of tons of concrete? If so, when the windfarm has exhausted its 25 years of productivity and the site is being decommissioned, how on earth can these massive blocks be got rid of? There are still unsightly concrete gun emplacements to be seen around Shetland, put there in war time. I suppose the blocks would remain in place.I see a referendum as essential. If the majority of Shetlanders want this project to go ahead I think we should be told. The minority would presumably accept this outcome, but it should be done, every eligible adult should be given the opportunity to state his or her view. Only then might the outcome, whatever it might be, be accepted.

    Reply
    • John Jamieson

      As you said we need to know the pros and cons of all types of energy generation as far as possible and the concrete blocks are one example.
      I would not hold out too much hope of being offered a solution other than reducing their height to below ground level so that they are no longer visible.
      Governments world wide have gone ahead with nuclear power stations without first resolving the problem of dealing with decommissioned carbon emission free nuclear reactors. This has not as yet been undertaken anywhere in spite of the proliferation of these power stations.

      Reply
  26. George Herraghty

    REMINDER!
    Some recent opinion polls
    1 YouGov poll finds 75% back wild land protection and only 6% oppose. “Wild land should be given special protection from inappropriate development including wind farms.”
    91% of Scottish residents believe it important to retain wild places

    2 Should Munros and Corbetts be protected from wind farm development?

    90% YES 10% NO

    3 Brown Muir Wind farm, just South of Elgin

    2,102 Objections 10 Support

    4 Should further large scale wind farms be sited in Highland Perthshire?

    91% NO 9% Yes

    5 Dershalloch Wind farm, East of Straiton

    4,723 Objections 23 Support

    6 Corlic Hill 703 Objections 1 Support

    Intelligent Scots have seen through the wind industry propaganda. They want no more environmental devastation to line the pockets of rich landowners!

    Reply
  27. m sutherland

    hi i think the windfarm is a good thing fur shetland we always have plenty o wind 2 keep them going and it will bring more work 2 the isles so bring on as many as possible if anybody needs sites fur windmills there is plenty o room here in bigton on the hill above the house

    Reply
    • Johan Adamson

      oh yes, they will be coming to a hill near you shortly

      Reply
    • Evelyn Morrison

      More work to ‘the isles’ – could you expand on this please? I would appreciate your knowledgeable input.

      Reply
    • Suzy Jolly

      Once upon a time there was an airport with flight paths and holding circles. Many locals loved that airport, and not just because more than 35 people worked there. You don’t find large wind turbines near airports and under flight paths.

      Reply
    • Johan Adamson

      There are red lights on top of the Burradale ones to stop folk crashing into them. In the recent storm tho, many of them were knocked out

      Reply
  28. Linsey Nisbet

    If the removal of peat is such a problem, why did Sustainable Shetland and their ilk not hold huge protests and write letters of opposition to the building of the Total gas plant? There was a massive amount of peat shifted in that operation, and as far as I can see, nobody even murmured.

    Reply
    • Johan Adamson

      They should have done so. No one paid any attention to any murmurs then either. But two wrongs doesnt make a right so not opposing Total is not a valid reason for not opposing this. Total is one site. This is 103 sites plus all the wind farm development waiting in the wings.

      Reply
    • Bill Smale

      According to the Shetland Times 19.02.10, 236,000 cubic metres of peat were to be removed from the hill, stored in 3 large stores on site protected by retaining walls and kept wet until the terminal closes when it is to be laid down again.

      Reply
  29. iantinkler

    Lindsey, perhaps because the Total plant was less than on hundredth of the size of VE and overshadows no ones house, simples!

    Reply
  30. mary rutherford

    the question of where the enormous amount of money required to build this ‘project’ is coming from seems absent from the debate. As for the £300million for the inter-connector, dream on – THE UK NATIONAL DEBT IS £1.5 TRILLION and rising, Ed Davey will not be in post come May and governments are not bound by decisions of a previous government -FACT – its known as the Parliament Act. So for supporters of this diabolical project think you will have to wait some time, if ever, for its completion.

    Reply
    • Julian Arculus

      :o)

      Reply
  31. David Spence

    £300 million, and very much the rest Mary. This figure is very much the thin end of the wedge. I would hazard a guess of closer to £1.0 – £1.5 billion and this is very much to the overall cost of this money draining project.

    Personally, I would like a public inquiry into who exactly advised the CT to invest in this project when, based on the figures, the return for the CT is so very small. Around 1% or less. The CT is responsible for the money which belongs to Shetland, and yet they are not being made accountable for a) investing in a project with such a ridiculous low rated return, b) literally using all of the funds within their pot without consultation with the people of Shetland and c) who within the CT will personally benefit from this investment?

    I suspect, like all people, nowadays, who think more of what they can make than for the greater good of the community, the VEP is a business project guided for the benefit of the few at the cost to the majority, and where future investments for local trades and business will be zero due to the CT putting all its eggs in one basket without due consideration to the long term consequences.

    I hope, this time, my words are presented within this forum?

    Reply
  32. Vivienne Rendall

    I’m not against windfarms in principal, I can’t understand why more is not made of the idea just to supply Shetland, then they could get on with it-no connector needed, not so many of the hills spoiled. But I suppose those in favour of 103 giant turbines simply want to make a shedload of cash. I’d be very happy for Shetland to make its own electricity by means of wind.

    Reply
  33. Sue Wailoo

    How I agree with Vivienne Rendall.
    A Sustainable Shetland has no need of an interconnector.
    Our energy needs could be met by proportional, smaller wind turbines sited well away from homesteads without causing health and environmental devastation to humans and wildlife. We would still need a power station for when there is too much or no wind but that could be fed by the gas plant at Sullom, much cleaner and greener than the present one.
    This would be real Charitable investment. Just imagine free electricity for those in fuel poverty while the rest of us enjoy cheaper fuel bills.
    Then the snake oil salesmen would have to move on with empty pockets to try their tricks elsewhere but with diminishing success as other communities also wake up to the real costs of industrial scale wind factories.

    Reply
  34. James Mackenzie

    The interconnector costs may – apart from the scarcity and costs of copper – be influenced by its capacity, what type it is, or – in the end – how many there would be. Only last summer DECC was considering using what it calls multi-terminal HVDC cables which “are currently unproven internationally.” (Electricity Market Reform: Allocation of Contracts for Difference – DECC 2014).
    Furthermore it raises the question of when the interconnector would be installed. I believe there are also supply chain challenges.
    Meanwhile transmission charges still have to be settled, and as Alan Bryce of VE admitted recently on Radio Shetland, VE has been busy consulting with DECC and the Scottish Government about these and other relevant issues – while the Judicial Review was going on, during which time VE continuously told the public that it was “business as usual”.
    Until and unless they are resolved I don’t see much prospect of the wind farm actually progressing on the ground – even if DECC foresaw 400MW of onshore wind being transmitted from Scottish islands by 2020. (Scottish Islands Renewables – Update Report – DECC, December 2013). These issues are surely the real delays to the project – not Sustainable Shetland’s legal action.
    On the point of the 35 jobs to be created, I thought that actually only a percentage of those – 40%? – were expected to be based in Shetland. If I’m wrong, somebody please correct me.

    Reply
  35. john irvine

    The VE supporters fall into 2 camps, those who are personally profiting or who are to profit from it and the rest who have had the wool well and truly pulled over their eyes.

    Make no mistake this hair brained scheme will be an unmitigated disaster. For one thing it is insane for SCT to throw all the eggs into 1 basket (breaking each 1 in the hamfisted process), add all the people who`s lives will be destroyed and last but not least the total and utter destruction to the enviroment.

    The 35 jobs created will be far outweighed by the jobs and revenue lost in the tourist industry alone.

    It beggars belief that this has been approved and it really does make you wonder what has gone on behind closed doors. I have no doubt that the truth will eventually come out but sadly that may be too late to save our wonderful and unique Islands.

    Reply
  36. David Spence

    ‘ This would be real Charitable investment. Just imagine free electricity for those in fuel poverty while the rest of us enjoy cheaper fuel bills. ‘

    Sue, something similar was proposed in the early seventies about supplying the Lerwick Power Station with a pipeline and the use of the gas which was burnt off (and still is with huge flare stacks) from the Sullom Voe Terminal, but the then Hydro Electric refused to engage in the project because BP could not guarantee 100% supply (tell me what business can ?). Basically, it was their ‘ get out clause ‘ as the Hydro Board were obviously still wanting to cash in maximum profits by charging Shetland people the maximum price.

    But surprise, surprise, 40 or more years later on, the new proposed Power Station, I believe, out at Rova Head is going to be supplied with the free energy via Sullom Voe, as was proposed in the seventies.

    No doubt though, Scottish Southern Electricity will charge us heavily because of the extra cost, allegedly, of setting up this new system of free energy for them, but still costing us dearly.

    Reply
  37. Kathy Greaves

    I have been saying all of the above for the past seven years or so and think that it is a disgrace that about £10mil has already been wasted on this diabolical project.

    However, when the idea is finally scrapped, knocked on the head, kaput, perhaps some of the expertise can be used in the setting up of a truly sustainable Shetland-wide energy provider, for the benefit of people in Shetland. And I hope that this happens soon – and that local residents can buy shares in our own Shetland Power Company.

    I agree also that those who are responsible for driving this project ahead for many years, without the wishes of the people, should be held accountable for the waste of SCT funds.

    Reply
  38. Stella Winks

    M. Sutherland – Bigton – is one correct to assume you would have direct financial gain with the wind turbines planted ‘in the hill above THE HOUSE’ ?or is it just plain ignorance – rather than carpet-bagging that inspires you to wish to ruin the beautiful landscape of Bigton, torture it’s residents with the dreadful impacts – health, audio, visible etc. Your wisdom/info filled comment is not as fully informative as it might be ……

    Reply
  39. James Howitt

    Huh. The one thing which will help tourism in Shetland is the ending of the rort which are airfairs.

    £1200 return for three in May from Southampton to Lerwick return. By comparison I could get an all inclusive week in Cyprus where it will be a) warmer and b) cheaper for £900.

    I cant see how the siting of a wind farm will affect tourism. Whether I visit a place the fact that it has a windfarm is irrelevant. Parts of Kernow, whose terrain is quite similar to Shetland in many respects is dotted with windfarms. It doesn’t seem to stop people visiting.

    Reply
    • Johan Adamson

      But this farm is so big it will ruin any other attraction Shetland has, and they will need more turbines to justify the cost of the cable, so the whole group of islands will be one giant windfarm and people will leave, so there will be nothing to come to Shetland for.

      Reply

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