19th October 2017

Sustainable group first to object to Peel windfarm project

9 comments, , by , in Headlines, News

The campaign group opposed to the controversial Viking Energy windfarm plans to object to fresh plans for a 21-turbine project on the outskirts of Lerwick.

Peel Energy made the announcement last week which could see turbines measuring up to 145 metres appearing near the town and nearby areas under the Mossy Hill windfarm scheme.

However, members of Sustainable Shetland, which has stood in strong opposition to the 103-turbine Viking Energy project, are taking issue with the latest proposed scheme.

Vice-chairman James Mackenzie said a committee meeting was to be held on 10th May and it would be recommended to members to object to the project.

“It’s a significant, large-size wind­farm of 21 turbines,” Mr Mac­Kenzie said. “Interestingly its [capacity] is 49.9MW; which is just below the threshold at which you need to go to the Scottish government, so they are obviously trying to get this approved by the council.” Peel Energy has not given an exact location of the proposed turbines, although it is understood the windfarm will span hills between Lerwick, Gulberwick, Tingwall and Scalloway.

A map can be seen on the company’s website but when asked for more details by The Shetland Times this week, Peel Energy stated that it was waiting until public consultation events to provide the information.

Project manager Bernadette Bar­ry, who spoke on radio about the proposal last week including confirming that Peel had obtained the land involved, did not return our calls.

The sessions are being held later this month to gather opinions and the energy firm said the final design will follow on the back of consultations and environmental and technical reports.

The meetings are planned for:
• Tuesday 25th April: Staney Hill Public Hall, 2pm to 7pm.
• Wednesday 26th April: Gulberwick Community Hall, 11am to 3pm; Scalloway Public Hall, 6pm to 8pm.
• Thursday 27th April: Tingwall Public Hall, 2pm to 7pm.

The organisers behind the Peel project claimed a community benefit scheme was also being proposed for its latest development.

Peel Energy has submitted a scoping report to Shetland Islands Council this week and a full planning application will be submitted to the SIC next year.

The company also has plans for a 17-turbine windfarm in Yell.

James Mackenzie

Like the Viking Energy project and the Yell plans, the new scheme depends on a subsea interconnector cable connecting Shetland to the national grid.

Mr Mackenzie was worried about the floodgates opening for windfarms and noted the 17-turbine development in Yell, and the Energy Isles scheme to provide a large-scale windfarm (150-200MW) in Yell and Unst.

“If Viking goes through, and these ones go through on the grounds it would be strengthening the case for development, it just opens the door for more development,” he said.

“There are already government reports both from the UK government both from the UK and Scottish government back in 2013/14 envisaging 1,200MW of power being exported from Shetland.

“That would mean another cable. You can imagine how many turbines that would mean scattered aross the island.”

A large number of turbines posed an environmental impact as well as an impact on communities, Mr Mackenzie said.

“It’s inevitable the turbines are going to be pretty close to dwellings,” he argued.

There was also an issue with the landscape, Mr Mackenzie said, and whether it could “support the structures without losing the integrity of Shetland’s uniqueness”.

Asked about the likelihood of an interconnector cable to connect with the mainland, Mr Mackenzie replied: “I really don’t know.”

Tony Erwood

Windfarm Farm Supporters Group member Tony Erwood said in his personal view the benefits for Shetland were likely to be limited.

“If Peel Energy think they can make a financial success (and that means making a profit) of this proposed venture, then Viking Energy certainly can with theirs,” he said.

“From what I have read, I don’t see how such a scheme can work (both financially and technically) without a connection to mainland UK, ie an inter-connector.

“Peel Energy are in the business of making money for Peel Energy, so the benefits for Shetland are likely to be very limited to land rent and some community payments.”

Mr Erwood stressed that his comments were his own personal views and not that of the group.

“The Wind Farm Supporters Group was established to support the Viking Energy wind farm because there was going to be a significant community ownership through the Charitable Trust and profits from operating the windfarm would flow back into the community through the charitable trust,” he explained.

“I don’t think that the Wind Farm Supporters Group would be supporting Peel Energy because it is not a community venture and the benefits to the community from what we know at the moment will be very limited.”

Isles MP Alistair Carmichael in November warned windfarm projects could grind to a halt because of a lack of commitment from the UK government.

That was after Westminster opted to launch a consultation about onshore projects in remote islands to see if they should be treated differently.

Mr Carmichael had been calling for a higher minimum “island strike price” for green energy generated in the isles, and was disappointed that there was a consultation on financial support, rather than a decision.

Viking Energy stated this week that it was still awaiting the outcome of the consultation.

Mr Mackenzie believed the government was saying it wanted “to be persuaded of the argument and it’s suitable and necessary to have the subsidy”.

With Brexit and a the issue of a possible second independence referendum, he suggested it could be “pretty low on the UK government agenda”.

Meanwhile talks were held with energy ministers in Stornoway this week to push the importance of island renewables.

Former SIC political leader Gary Robinson and Viking Energy head of development Aaron Priest were at the meeting. It was led by Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse and his UK counterpart Greg Clark.

The Scottish government stated before the meeting that discussions would focus on the UK government’s recent consultation which back-tracked on support for wind projects in the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland.

It argued that development of proposed major projects alone would trigger initial investment of £2.5 billion.

Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse.

Mr Wheelhouse said: “Our position on island wind is both consistent and very clear – we must do all we can to enable our island communities to benefit from this substantial resource, large enough to meet five per cent of total UK electricity demand, provide significant boost to decarbonising our electricity supply, and would be worth up to £725 million to local economies.

“The planned projects on the Western and Shetland Isles would face extremely high locational transmission charges to provide electricity to the mainland. That is why an appropriate support mechanism is so important to help unlock very significant capital investment from the private sector and community-owned developers as well as, in turn, underpinning the investment case to National Grid for vital islands grid connections. Bringing this positive scenario about, as quickly as possible, will be at the heart of my discussions with Mr Clark.

“Responses to the UK government’s consultation show the case for supporting island wind projects is stronger than ever – our own submission was robust and credible. The projects under discussion would deliver tangible economic benefits to the communities involved while helping to ensure resilience in GB market electricity supplies. I look forward to making this positive case during our meeting with the Secretary of State.”

Speaking after Monday’s meeting of the Scottish Island Renewables Delivery Forum, Mr Priest said:“It’s vital for Shetland’s economic future that we are allowed the chance to diversify and develop a renewable energy industry.

“We have an endless resource of wind, wave and tide and the Shetland community should get to use it to generate new jobs and income. It’s becoming ever-more important given the current downturn.”

About Adam Guest

Reporter for The Shetland Times. I have also worked as a senior news reporter at The Press and Journal, The Barnsley Chronicle and as a freelance reporter for The Doncaster Free Press. Alongside news reporting I specialise in music and sports journalism. Pork pie lover.

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9 comments

  1. Ian Tinkler

    “Former SIC political leader Gary Robinson and Viking Energy head of development Aaron Priest were at the meeting. It was led by Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse and his UK counterpart Greg Clark.”
    Yet another Volte-face from Gary Robinson. In 2012 he stood against the progression and VE and the interconnector. Well no surprises here, it did at lest take him a few years longer than when he let down his constituents and Westside children with regard to the horrible Volte-face recommending closure and withdrawing his support for Aith Junior high school. That took him less than six months!

    Reply
  2. Jim Wiegand -Wildlife Biologist

    Scotland should give up on wind and start relying on honest research. Wind industry research in the UK has been some the most disgusting and corrupt that I have analyzed. The Wolfe Island studies in Canada hid tens of thousands of fatalities with incredibly rigged research designed to hide carcasses. UK leaders along with industry insiders established the putrid research methodology used in these studies.

    These facts have been hidden from the public. Wind produces very little net power to end users but it makes a killing for the green and clean crowd. Wind is also at least 500 times more deadly per MW (both land and offshore) as any other source of energy.

    This has also been hidden. Scotland’s golden eagles are in big trouble from wind energy developments. When and if Scotland ever gets fed up with this parasitic green industry along with their fraudulent research, I will be happy to help with my expertise so the public will know the real numbers of golden eagles still left in your country. I will do this for nothing unlike the fake conservation groups soaking the public for millions.

    Reply
    • John Tulloch

      Well said, indeed.

      On “fake conservation groups”, a particularly shocking example is WWF (formerly World Wildlife Fund) who, in 2013, successfully opposed a proposal for an international ban on the export of polar bear parts. As a result, the Guardian observed:

      “The export of polar bear skins, teeth and paws from Canada will continue unabated after a bitter debate at the world’s biggest wildlife summit ended in defeat for a US proposal to outlaw the trade.”

      WWF was then and continues today, to exhort us to give them money to “Adopt a Polar Bear”. Their associated website page states:

      “By helping protect polar bears you’re helping to make sure the Arctic food chain stays healthy……”

      So why didn’t they “help protect polar bears” when they had the chance?
      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/mar/07/halt-polar-bear-trade-fails

      Reply
    • Ian Tinkler

      WWF Scotland, largest cash contributor, Scottish and Southern Energy. No wonder WWF Scotland promotes Wind Farms. Scottish and Southern Energy one time had the largest fine in corporate Scottish history for miss selling. £10.5m by Ofgem. A relly nice partner for the SCT and VE. (2013). Ian Marchant (businessman) was CEO of SSE, now working on Windfarms on Shetland! His best Quote, if VE does not go ahead it would be criminal”. Nice one Ian. Hows the Yell product? a good little earner?

      Reply
  3. Johan Adamson

    If VE were to go ahead as well, Tingwall will be a little island in a forest of wind turbines, which will be seen from everywhere else in Shetland

    Reply
    • Johan Adamson

      Not island, clearing, obviously

      Reply
  4. Johan Adamson

    Scalloway, Lerwick and Gulberwick: ‘… what’s that coming over the hill is it a monster, is it a monster?’

    Reply
  5. Ali Inkster

    If VE does go ahead we can expect a hell of a lot more of these to spring up on wir hills, whatever the export cable is rated for is what it will be expected to carry 24 hours a day 7 days a week 52 weeks a year. To achieve this they will need to install at least 3 times (very likely a lot more) the rated capacity of the cable.

    Reply
  6. Ian Tinkler

    A lot more than three Ali. Remember the 2000 square miles offshore floating. The NAENs project as discussed by the SIC behind closed doors with no media statements given. No wonder Gary Robinson kept quiet about that one! A bit of another volte-face from his 2012 anti VE/Interconnector election pledges.
    Must be having integrity lessons from Ali Carmichael!

    Reply

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