One of the conservation groups that came out against the Viking Energy windfarm has urged the council to call a public inquiry into the proposed development in light of The Shetland Times opinion poll which showed 48 per cent of people were opposed to it, 31 per cent were in favour and 21 per cent were undecided.
The John Muir Trust, which owns and safeguards eight areas of “wild” land in Scotland, said it was concerned that the 18,700 hectares of upland habitat earmarked to be built over with 150 turbines, each 145m high, 14 borrow pits and 118km of roads included a significant amount of “active blanket bog”.
The group claims that “any major disturbance of this fragile peat land will release significant amounts of stored carbon dioxide into the atmosphere”.
Steven Turnbull, policy officer for the John Muir Trust, said: “This scheme will have a major effect on one of Scotland’s most special wild places. There is an unimaginable level of impact, unlike any predicted level the Trust has seen in other applications.
“It is important the council listens to people’s opinions and makes it decision accordingly. While they are not the decision making body, a public local inquiry would be an opportunity to discuss all the issues.
“An inquiry would not be the end of the scheme, but it would enable anyone with an interest to have their say. We hope the council will pay attention to people’s views at these meetings and make their decision accordingly.”
Earlier this week a new organisation, Windfarm Supporters, was set up to campaign on behalf of the Viking project. For more on who is behind the group, see this week’s issue of The Shetland Times.