New UK energy minister Chris Huhne is expected to visit Shetland later in the summer. He made the pledge following a meeting this week with his Liberal Democrat colleague, Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael.
Mr Carmichael said the Tory/Lib Dem coalition government was committed to boosting renewable power. With development of the west of Shetland gas fields now under way, the changes being seen in the UK energy industry provided a fantastic opportunity for Orkney and Shetland.
He said: “The Northern Isles will be at the heart of this vital sector for many years to come.”
Mr Carmichael and Mr Huhne discussed a range of issues relating to the energy industry in the Northern Isles, including grid strengthening and transmission charges. The minister was said to have recognised the importance of the energy sector to Orkney and Shetland and stressed his desire to work closely with Mr Carmichael.
Mr Carmichael said: “Though Chris has been a friend and colleague of mine for many years, this was our first official meeting since he took up his new role.
“His willingness to listen to the concerns I raised was a refreshing change from the attitude of the last government to the needs of people in Orkney and Shetland. It was clear that he shares my commitment to supporting the energy industry in the Northern Isles.
“I will continue to work closely with Chris and his department and look forward to welcoming him to the Northern Isles in the near future.”
Anti-windfarm group Sustainable Shetland have demanded a meeting with Mr Huhne when he visits.