Now that Bobby Hunter has set me right on a few points (“Disgraceful slur on committee”) can I then congratulate him, as a leading Viking Energy windfarm campaigner, on the happy coincidence of the Community Fund consultation form appearing in the paper along with the VE addendum announcement.
I make no slur on our community councils, Voluntary Action Shetland, or the work of the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society in this matter; I would simply state again that this consultation is premature. The build projection for the windfarm is from 2013 to 2018; there is absolutely no need for this consultation to be rolled out at this time. There will be a cost element to commissioning SAOS for this; in these lean times I am sure we have better ways to spend our money.
I also make no personal slur on Mr Hunter. To raise a question as to why such a publicly active supporter of the windfarm should be chairman of the Community Benefit Fund is no such thing. Surely the chair must be impartial. Community councillors are subject to a similar code of conduct to councillors. I have no doubt if such a prominent anti-Viking windfarm individual was in the chair the same questions would need to be raised.
People are free to have their own views on this; I have returned my form with name and address, a comment on the premature nature of the consultation and a tick in the box opposing the Viking Energy windfarm.
One question I would like to ask, given Mr Hunter’s reference to future commercial renewable energy schemes, is does a Community Benefit Fund exist for the Burradale windfarm?
Finally, on the subject of consultations I would like to draw attention to a much more important one which has recently kicked off, namely the draft interim planning policy on windfarm development over 20MW. This document was discussed briefly at the last planning board meeting and subsequently forwarded for a six-week consultation period.
In terms of renewable energy development in Shetland it is an extremely important document, one that the public needs to be very aware of. Despite this it appears to be entering into a public consultation period with virtually no publicity at all. I think this is the consultation form that should accompany the announcement of the Viking Energy addendum. Without this policy in place, it means the public are being asked to respond to a revised planning application on a very large development with no council planning policy in place. This is where the serious omission is occurring. The addendum should in fact be withdrawn until this policy is in place.
The Interim Planning Policy can be viewed meantime on the council website at: http://www.shetland.gov.uk/coins/submissiondocuments.asp?submissionid=11277