There are “no compelling reasons” for a further round of public meetings on the Viking Energy windfarm following publication of the revised plans or addendum, according to SIC executive director of infrastructure Gordon Greenhill.
The final decision on whether to emulate the events hosted by council officials in Brae, Aith, Dunrossness and Lerwick last year – at which people against, in support of or unsure about the project were invited to give their opinions – will be made by members at next Wednesday’s Full Council meeting.
But in a report to go before them Mr Greenhill states that the Viking addendum published last month does not amount to a radical change of the original planning application.
Mr Greenhill writes: “I am of the opinion that the addendum does not change the fundamental nature of the original application and that therefore it does not require a further round of public consultation meetings. I base this assessment on the addendum being reduced in size but wholly contained within the boundaries of the original proposal.
“Furthermore there are no new areas incorporated and no additional groups of people affected. There are no compelling reasons to go out to further public meetings.”
Instead, Mr Greenhill recommends, members of the public should direct their comments about the windfarm to the council’s planning service, which will pass them on to the Scottish government’s energy consents unit (ECU) or to the ECU direct. It is this body that will ultimately make a recommendation to ministers whether planning consent should or should not be granted to the Viking windfarm. “This is sufficient in my opinion,” says Mr Greenhill.
The recommendation will please the Windfarm Supporters Group which has been arguing that the original meetings were “unrepresentative” but be greeted with dismay by anti-windfarm group Sustainable Shetland, which sees a fresh round of meetings as essential.