Tories pledge support for big isles windfarm projects
Support for big windfarms such as the Viking Energy project have been given an election backing by the Conservatives.
The Tory party has backed “wind projects in the remote islands of Scotland” in its election manifesto.
Page 22 of the manifesto, released yesterday, promises “a diverse energy mix” for Britain’s energy production.
It claims that a “diverse energy economy” is the best way to stimulate innovation.
The manifesto states: “For instance, while we do not believe that more large-scale onshore wind power is right for England, we will maintain our position as a global leader in offshore wind and support the development of wind projects in the remote islands of Scotland, where they will directly benefit local communities.”
Viking Energy head of development and strategy Aaron Priest said: “This explicit manifesto support for remote Scottish island wind power is a very welcome development and it chimes with the mainstream political consensus.
“We look forward to more detail emerging when the incoming UK government announces details of the outcome of the recent consultation on supporting non-mainland wind projects.
“Shetland is the windiest place in the UK so it makes sense to develop wind power here. Our exceptional wind presents a rare opportunity for Shetland to diversify and build a new powerhouse industry, which would help to counteract the economic downturn currently hitting local jobs and families.
The Viking windfarm would be a major new source of income for the community through its 45-per-cent ownership of the project.”
Shetland Charitable Trust former vice-chairman Jonathan Wills said the manifesto pledge made sense. But he criticised the government for punishing island windfarms through its “bizarre and anti-competitive” transmission charges.
Dr Wills said: “I never doubted that reason would eventually prevail. This is a consented project after the fullest public consultation and also a legal hearing that went as far as the Supreme Court.
“The hold-up has been the decision on a UK government subsidy. This would not actually be needed if the government didn’t penalise island windfarms with its bizarre and anti-competitive transmission charges, which mean electricity generators in the Northern and Western Isles pay outrageous fees to connect to the National Grid.
“Some folk will not be pleased, of course, but when they consider the potential income to the charitable trust perhaps they will cheer up.”