23rd September 2017

Yell wind farm breezes through planning

9 comments, , by , in Headlines, News
An illustrative vew of the Beaw Field windfarm from Burravoe Old Haa. Image: Peel Energy

An illustrative view of the Beaw Field wind farm from Burravoe Old Haa. Image: Peel Energy

The development of a large wind farm in Yell crossed its latest hurdle by winning the approval of Shetland Islands Council planning committee.

The committee considered an “excellent report” by Amy Melkevik recommending that it approve the 17 turbine, 57.8 mW, wind farm, which has been reclassified by the developers as “large” rather than “very large” owing to advances in turbine technology.

But a bid by councillor Billy Fox to have an objection by Scatsta Airport operators Serco amplified by including it as a council condition was watered down.

The report lists 50 conditions that developer of Beaw Field Wind Farm, Peel Wind Farms (Yell), has to meet as part of the planning recommendation, which goes to the Electricity Consents Unit for further consideration, before being passed to Scottish ministers for a final decision. The SIC is a consultee in the process, but will bear much of the planning costs and responsibilities.

 

Beaw Field Windfarm project manager Bernadette Barry. Photo: Peter Johnson

Beaw Field Wind Farm project manager Bernadette Barry. Photo: Peter Johnson

Afterwards Peel Wind Farms development director Bernadette Barry said that she was pleased the development had passed the latest of four statutory consultations without a single objection.

 

She said: “It is the next step in the process and it now goes to the Energy Consents Unit.

“We are pleased by the outcome but there is still a long way to go. The council had a lot of work to do to get to that stage.”

The abolition of the Department for Energy and Climate Change and the “take over” of the Tory government had not served to expedite the development, she added.

But she acknowledged that the fate of the wind farm hinged on the provision of an HVDC (high voltage direct current) link, which in turn would appear to rely on the Viking Wind Farm striking a deal with Westminster to supply electricity to the National Grid.

The committee heard it would fall upon local planning officials to ensure that the 50 conditions were adhered to, but were encouraged that a dedicated “environmental clerk of works” would be appointed to make sure the developers addressed any environmental issues.

Committee members were shown a series of artist’s impressions of the wind farm that showed visual impact, which is not a strict planning concern, would be largely within five kilometres of the site, and largely at the back of houses which would have their sea views unaffected.

Ms Barry also gave assurances that the turbines would be shut down during times when “shadow flicker” could be seen, and these were “very predictable” and would only have a minor effect on the farm’s output.

Councillor Fox had questioned the viability of the farm if it was shut down during these periods and said he feared that commercial pressure would mean the developers failing to address shadow flicker.

But Ms Barry insisted this was not so and also fielded Mr Fox’s claim that difficulties with Scatsta Airport, which has objected to the plan, would be close to insurmountable.

She said that Peel Energy, which had much experience in dealing with air operations throughout the UK, had been in discussion with Serco and was certain that technical solutions could be put in place that would mitigate any problems Serco had identified.

Nonetheless Mr Fox attempted to have the satisfaction of Serco’s objections listed as an additional condition, as the SIC should seek to safeguard oil and gas operations as being a “significant thing in terms of national importance”.

Mr Fox said that he was also concerned that the SIC had only one planning enforcement officer and he was “hard pressed” to deal with things on the “domestic level”.

He also questioned the level of community payback, saying that a figure of £375,000 (based on £5,000) per mW, should in fact be £289,000. But Ms Barry said that the downsized windfarm (it had been originally planned to be up to 100mW in size) had been slated to provide £250,000 in community benefit.

She also said that the company planned to restore eroded blanket peat bog using peat excavated in developing the site.
Condition two of the council’s report calls for the developers to have details of financial provision in place for demolition and restoration of the site once it comes to the end of its life.

Another condition to be added was that, prior to commencement, the developer shows the planning authority that a proposal is in place to cover any additional damage to roads in Yell that are caused by construction of the wind farm.

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.

View other stories by »

9 comments

  1. Donnie Morrison

    Well glory be – the good folk of Yell are a step nearer to their own cornucopia in the shape of the Beaw Field windfarm. Apparently it will consist of fancy turbines which can switch off at certain times to prevent shadow flicker affecting adjacent properties. No mention has been made on the effects of infrasound on these same properties – so presumably the people involved have all read up on it and are content to live with the consequences. Personally I would find it terrifying.
    The proposed appointment of an environmental clerk of works – funded by Peel Energy – beggars belief. Has no-one heard the expression ‘He who pays the piper calls the tune’ ?

    Reply
  2. David Spence

    £250,000 to the community? Who would be in charge of this and who would be responsible for the distribution of such funds?

    If the project is only viable via Viking Energy and an Interconnector cable, is the plan to sell the electricity produce to the highest bidder on mainland UK? What power benefits would Yell itself have? Would it just be a case of ‘ You pay the going rate ‘ on what Scottish and Southern Electricity dictates?

    Whatabout maintenance costs, cost to the Crown for a cable on the seabed, cost for the up keep of infrastructures etc etc????

    Is this project, in short, only going to, commercially, benefit a minority but at the cost to the majority (a typical short-term, quick buck mentality) ????

    What would be the commercial cost to the Council per year???

    Could these wind turbines cope with severe gales or would they be shut down???

    Many, many questions which would have to be asked (without the glamour and flare on what you would wish compared to would be reality).

    When it comes to large projects one should always be cautious and sceptical about the pro’s.

    Reply
  3. James Sinclair

    Readers of a certain age may also be familiar with the further expression “Groundnut Scheme”!

    Reply
  4. Ronnie Robertson

    According to Ms Barry shutting down the turbines during flicker would have only a ” minor ” effect on the farm’s output. Well, well, it kind of says it all ! !

    Reply
  5. John Tulloch

    Can anyone think of a reason why the London Tory government, who pledged to reduce energy prices, might force English and Welsh consumers to pay for energy at 2-3 times the price of conventional energy? Energy that needs to be transported 600 miles to where it’s needed, plus a £1 billion undersea cable and gas turbine generators paid to stand by and switch on when the wind isn’t blowing?

    With the icing on the cake that their consumers’ money will serve to underpin the SNP’s economic prospectus for an independent Scotland?

    Answers on a post card to Bobby Hunter, chairman, Shetland Charitable Trust.

    Reply
    • ian_tinkler

      Maybe the Tories have more of a sense of humor than we realize. Just a perverse sense of fun to see just how ludicrous the sheep can be made to look and just how much more of the SCT funds can be wasted before someone pulls the plug (no pun intended) on the green loonies! £1 billion undersea cable, energy at 2-3 times the price of conventional energy? Just what the SNP/SG would call a bargain as long as its Green and we poor electorate have to pay for it and no doubt they will follow form blame Westminster.

      Reply
    • James Watt

      John and Ian couldn’t have picked a better day to choose this line of questioning, because you’d be surprised what the Tory government will expect English and Welsh customers to pay for, unfortunately Scottish customers are also going to be ripped of by the latest deal they have signed up to.

      The Hinkley Point C nuclear plant will saddle UK consumers with higher energy bills than building gas power stations, the Government has admitted, as it signed a legally-binding contract to subsidise the £18bn project.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/09/29/hinkley-point-nuclear-plant-gets-final-go-ahead-as-government-si/amp/

      Reply
      • John Tulloch

        James Watt,

        I agree that Hinckley Point will be a waste of money, with consumers being forced to pay twice the price of conventional energy. I hope it is not built.

        Combined-cycle gas turbine plant supplied by Britain’s own shale gas will reduce carbon dioxide emissions at an affordable price – US emissions are down to early 1990s levels and their electricity costs about half of ours.

        To those ideologically opposed to fossil fuel-sourced energy, however, Hinckley Point is a shining beacon of value for money, compared to wind energy from Scottish islands or offshore.

        The energy price is about 11 per cent lower than the Island Strike Price; the power station is located in the south of England amidst the demand i.e. no £1 billion undersea cable; and it will supply energy reliably, 24/365, irrespective of whether the wind is blowing or not. i.e. no additional costs for standby generation to cover calm days.

        A game of financial/political roulette is under way, between France and the UK, over Hinckley and I’ll be surprised if it is ever built.

        This is another reason why Shetlanders would be better off, managing our own affairs.

  6. ian_tinkler

    Would someone please explain why we were repeatedly reassured that ” there was no issue of flicker being a problem with Viking Energy turbines”. Now we fined Peel Wind farms are taking precautions to prevent flicker causing health damage. Were the VE proponents just lying to us, just ignorant or both? Or maybe really could not care less about blighting the lives of others?
    I will not hold my breath waiting for an answer!!!

    Reply

Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to editorial@shetlandtimes.co.uk for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.