The council may decide to hold a new round of public consultation over Viking Energy’s proposed windfarm in the new year, it has emerged.
Viking Energy recently announced that it would be submitting modifications to its proposed 150-turbine windfarm to the energy consents unit in the next few months.
In light of that, executive director of infrastructure Gordon Greenhill said this week that he would wait to see the extent of the changes to the application before deciding whether to stage another series of consultations following recent hearings in Aith, Brae, Dunrossness and Lerwick. The majority of those who attended the hearings were overwhelmingly opposed to the controversial development.
The SIC had been due to give its verdict on the £800 million project at a special meeting on 5th November until Viking said it wished to respond to “particular issues” raised by the Shetland community and various bodies which have been consulted. It is preparing an addendum which it expects to have ready for submission in early 2010.
“I’m not ruling anything out at this stage,” said Mr Greenhill. “Once we know the scale of alterations, then we want a commensurate amount of public consultation. If that means we have to go round the four halls again then so be it, we will go round the four halls again.”
As with the original application, the SIC will have to negotiate with the energy consents unit for an extension to the statutory 28-day consultation period should it be deemed necessary. The planning department will have to make a recommendation to councillors. If they choose to oppose the project, it will automatically trigger a public inquiry.
Meanwhile, the Viking Energy project team was in Liverpool this week for the British Wind Energy Association conference. It said the trip was to learn more about new technologies which could be applied in the Shetland proposal.
It was also pressing the industry regulator to look again at transmission charges. The team held several meetings with energy agencies, the industry regulator, turbine manufacturers and other suppliers.
The conference itself brings together top experts in the the field of wind energy, as well as politicians, suppliers and regulators. It covered issues such as the contested interconnector transmission charges and the latest technological options.
Viking Energy project officer David Thomson said: “We were particularly delighted to hear Shetland’s potential to contribute to the UK becoming a low carbon economy mentioned in the opening speeches of the conference.”