Maverick councillor Allison Duncan has called for a referendum on the Viking Energy windfarm with everyone in Shetland over the age of 12 getting a vote.
The Shetland South member declared at a public meeting in Aith last night that the windfarm was “too big an issue” to be left to the 22 councillors of Shetland Islands Council to ultimately decide upon.
He stood up at the council-run public consultation meeting to declare his opposition to the £800 million proposal, revealing new figures which in his view make it a bad investment for Shetland Charitable Trust.
At a recent seminar he said councillors were told £81m of trust funds would require to be invested in three phases over three years with the first financial return only coming in the third year, amounting to £6m.
The trust’s partner in the venture, Scottish and Southern Energy, now expected it would cost £525m for the seabed cable connecting the windfarm to the Scottish mainland, Mr Duncan said, which was around twice the previous quoted estimates of £200-300m. “I can tell you the figure tonight because I asked,” he told the audience of more than 140 people.
The cost of the cable will not be borne by Viking Energy, being recovered from the nation’s electricity users through the normal tariff system.
After the meeting Mr Duncan said his referendum idea had not won much favour among his council colleagues so far. If he got his way the referendum would take place at an early date. “The sooner the better,” he said.
The three councillors for the Shetland West ward were at the Aith meeting and endured repeated criticism from windfarm opponents who said they did not feel they were being properly represented. Councillors Florence Grains, Frank Robertson and Gary Robinson chose not to respond to the accusations during the session, which was staged purely to allow members of the public to express their views on the windfarm proposal.
Most people at the meeting who registered their opinions on the windfarm were strongly opposed to the 150-turbine complex. A show of hands at the end registered 110 people against, 15 for and three undecided.
At the first meeting in Brae on Monday the audience voted 58-18 against the windfarm with five people undecided.
The last two meetings in the series of four take place in the Dunrossness hall tonight and on Thursday in Lerwick Town Hall, both at 6.30pm.