Viking Energy has no plans to dump its global PR firm Weber Shandwick despite one of its top UK employees starting up a nationwide anti-windfarm campaign.
Weber Shandwick’s chairman of corporate communications and public affairs Jon McLeod has set up the National Alliance of Windfarm Action Groups (NAWAG), claiming that for too long the “the greenwash” of the wind industry has gone unchallenged.
The move has handed Sustainable Shetland fresh ammunition to use in its attacks on Viking Energy as well as giving its supporters a good laugh at the windfarm company’s embarrassment.
The alliance’s aim is to orchestrate a “grassroots revolt” against the “ruthless” and “highly resourced” windfarm lobby. Mr McLeod said every landscape was at risk from “a wind lobby high on public subsidy and hungry for profits”.
The action group is apparently a personal hobby and entirely unconnected with his work at Weber Shandwick. His interest has been prompted by plans for a windfarm near his home in Derbyshire. He is a former journalist whose specialities include political lobbying campaigns. Among his clients have been Microsoft, the BBC, Shell and Coca Cola.
The alliance intends lobbying politicians on behalf of 30 anti-windfarm groups in England, Wales and Scotland, including groups in Caithness, Angus and West Stirlingshire. It hopes to attract more than 200 other anti-windfarm groups. Sustainable Shetland has not been invited to join so far.
Sustainable Shetland chairman Billy Fox said Mr McLeod’s actions coud be indicative of a major sea-change in people’s thinking in that windfarms were not the most energy-efficient or cost-effective way of trying to produce electricity or combat global warming.
Weber Shandwick, reputed to be the world’s largest PR firm, was appointed by Viking Energy in September last year to help promote the planning application, a move which attracted some controversy in Shetland. It is not known how long the relationship is intended to last but it is understood not to be long-term.
Viking Energy chairman Bill Manson said on Thursday that any change in the relationship with Weber Shandwick would not be as a result of Mr McLeod’s actions nor those of any other single individual unless they were seen as “particularly injurious” to Viking Energy’s position.