Shetland Islands Council has been granted an extension to its consultation deadline on the Viking Energy windfarm proposals – but only by half of what it had been seeking.
The Scottish Government announced on Thursday afternoon that the council would have until 13th November to make a recommendation to ministers on the plan to build 150 huge turbines in central Shetland.
The council had seeking an extension until the end of the year to allow it to hold a series of public meetings in Lerwick, Aith, Brae and Dunrossness.
Councillors agreed to the meetings after rejecting advice from legal services head Jan Riise that they should not take a political decision because they faced an “irreconcilable” conflict interest because of their joint role as trustees of Shetland Charitable Trust.
The council is the fourth of four statutory consultees to the project, the three others (RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage and Scottish Environment Protection Agency) having objected or made a series of objections before the deadline they faced on Tuesday this week.
Well over 1,000 comments on the Viking Energy plan were submitted to the government’s energy consents unit (ECU) before Tuesday.
The Glasgow-based unit, which is handling the application and will help shape minsters’ views on the proposed development, has four members of staff assessing the responses. But it is expected to take until next week to gauge the precise numbers for and against the development.
A Scottish Government spokesman said there had been a large volume of representations which was expected “to run into four figures”. “There is a lot of correspondence to process,” he said.
“A determination will only be made after careful and thorough consideration of all material issues, in accordance with the relevant legislative and planning obligations.”