Anti-windfarm group to recount numbers in petition after errors are spotted

Anti-windfarm group Sustainable Shetland has presented a petition to the council with more than 3,600 signatures condemning the Viking Energy plan to build 150 turbines in the central Mainland, although close scrutiny of the document by The Shetland Times has forced a recount.

Rachel Smith presents the petition to convener Sandy Cluness. Click on image to enlarge.
Rachel Smith presents the petition to convener Sandy Cluness. Click on image to enlarge.

Rachel Smith, 13, from Hillswick, handed over the document to SIC convener Sandy Cluness before Wednesday’s Full Council meeting.

Rachel, a keen walker and naturalist, said she opposed the windfarm because it would “devastate the landscape, and ruin the areas where I love to go walking and bird watching”, adding that it was “wrong to build industrial windfarms on peat”.

When The Shetland Times examined the petition on Wednesday it was quickly obvious a number of people had signed it not just twice but in a few cases three, four or more times.

According to Sustainable Shetland about 150 of the 3,605 signatories are not resident in Shetland but on closer examination that figure obviously should have been higher.

Quizzed about the discrepancies, Sustainable Shetland investigated and announced on Thursday it was to re-examine the petition “from scratch” although it does not expect it will result in a big drop in the number of signatures.

Vice-chairman Kevin Learmonth admitted: “We made a mistake and missed some duplicate signatures and we have to put our hand up and say we are sorry.”

Despite the embarrassing flaws, the petition remains a weighty one and testament to the strength and breadth of opposition from all quarters in Shetland ranging from children to octogenarians. People even in communities far from the impact of proposed turbines, such as Unst, Scalloway, Dunrossness and Bressay, have signed in considerable numbers.

In areas facing onto the turbines, particularly Aith, it is hard to imagine many have not signed their names although across to the east side of the turbines, in Nesting, people appear far less hostile and have not signed in large numbers.

After accepting the petition outside the Town Hall, Mr Cluness said the document was “a huge representation of what Shetland people think” and from his own soundings it appeared most people were not against a windfarm, just one on the scale proposed. “The overall response I’ve had is that they feel it is too large for the islands.”

He repeated his view that “a rather smaller windfarm is a better bet” if the right financial circumstances prevail in the next year or two to allow the project to be viable with fewer turbines due to advances in cable technology and charges.

He also told Sustainable Shetland members:  “My view is that if the majority of the Shetland public are against it then it shouldn’t go ahead.”

The deadline for formal objections to the project, which Viking Energy put to Scottish ministers for consent in May, is 28th July.

Story updated at 10.18 on 2nd July


Add Your Comment
  • James Stewart

    • July 1st, 2009 10:56

    I have avoided writing anything about the windfarm debate because I haven’t looked properly at the arguments for either side, and realistically, I won’t be living in Shetland once I gradute due to lack of opportunities in my preferred line of work so I don’t know how relevant my opinion is.

    Currently 17391 people are eligible to vote in Shetland, so thats over 13000 individuals who haven’t signed the petition and could realistically vote on the issue. Is 20% of the electorate having the majority say in any way a sign of a functioning democracy?

    I think the council need to call a referendum, where people can express their views via secret vote to settle this issue. To me, Shetland represents a peaceful, united community, but I know I’m not the only one who can’t help but feel that the community in Shetland has broken in recent years due to arguments over over Mareel, the new AHS and the windfarm.

  • Laura

    • July 1st, 2009 17:17

    I think that the people who have signed that petition should be made to live without electricity for one month and then see what they think about having wind power. Electricity runs everything that people love in these modern ages. But they can’t stand to have it in their back garden. But they are quite happy for people in such places as Grangmouth to have to live next to coal fired power stations. I think that it is disgusting that people who demand everything won’t have a green powered wind farm which is on land which is unused next to them.

  • Magnus Paterson

    • July 2nd, 2009 12:47

    Although I’m only a visitor to Shetland (albeit many times over 56 years) I signed the petition as the wind factory would destroy an area of outstanding natural beauty and have an immediate impact on Shetland’s biodiversity. As we will have to continue with conventional generation for when the wind isn’t blowing, or is blowing too hard, I’m quite happy to continue to have a nuclear plant (Torness) a few miles from my home, rather than see Shetland’s wild areas damaged beyond recognition.

  • Jackie

    • July 3rd, 2009 0:00

    I would entirely agree with Laura. Windmills have a beauty all of their own. I don’t mind windmills and electricity poles are more ugly if you notice them. Most people don’t, and it would be the same with windmills. I live here. I want a future for my kids here, after oil begins to run out. A lot of people will be very cross if Sustainable Shetland are responsible for putting the ‘Kybosh’ on this project.


Add 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 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.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.