Not a suitable landscape

Travel, they say, broadens the mind. Aye, perhaps. But it has closed mine to Viking Energy’s plan to destroy a landscape and environment which is curiously inappropriate for this type of industrial development.

Over the past few years I have had the good fortune to sail to many out-of-the-way places and make landfall at numerous Arctic, Atlantic, Pacific and Antarctic islands. This has allowed me to see and tramp though environments ranging from coral and volcanic islands, through temperate and tropical rainforests and rivers to cloud forests, button grass moorlands and into the glaciers and ice in Patagonia and the margins of the polar regions.

Returning home after these trips I have repeatedly been struck by the sheer visual beauty of our tiny archipelago. While seascapes tend to dominate our impressions, the landscape is open and views unrestricted; nothing is hidden. The hills – with their grand but subtle seasonal changes of colour – are low and generally rounded with soft skylines. Shetland does not compare in scale and grandeur with many of the strange and stunning landscapes I have seen elsewhere but it is very special. It has the Goldilocks factor: often bare but never barren, wild but not harsh, majestic but not overpowering, sometimes bold but never brutal. It is, in short, just about right.

I have seen windfarms in Tasmania and Norway where they are dwarfed by the landscape. And in Denmark, where it is so flat that at any distance the turbines fall below the horizon and are soon blocked by nearer features, while offshore one can sail past monster windspeils and marvel at their clever design and engineering.

Here, there is nothing to mitigate the sheer size of Viking’s beasts; nothing to reduce their visual impact and nothing to hide them. Their elevation magnifies their presence. By its nature the plan relies on placing these machines on prominent skylines and destroying precious moorland and lovely – and much loved – open vistas.

It is sad that so many people are willing to foul their own backyard and as we now know a connection to the mainland will result in many more windfarms springing up throughout the isles. Viking, we might say, is the blunt end of a very long and hard wedge.

Viking’s apologists talk sneeringly of nimbys trying to stop the project because we don’t like the look of these whirling giants, or that we think they will “spoil the view”. They will certainly do that – big time. Our environment is about to be destroyed by the “renewables” industry subsidy junkies and their local and central government acolytes, and, apart from lodging our objections, there seems little we can do about it.

Robert Wishart
South Hillhead,


Add Your Comment
  • Matthew Laurenson

    • November 5th, 2010 0:13

    This article contains a very nice description of our wonderful isles, very well versed and could make one feel rather homesick when away from it all. One slight problem is it seems to focus wholly on the physical landscape, but fails mention the economic one. Many Shetlanders have sought their living elsewhere in the world, sailing the oceans, making their living in all corners of this world. The consequences of snubbing the VE proposal currently on the table and renewables in general could be that many more Shetlanders could be forced to depart the isles.

    In that projected scenario the economic landscape post oil & gas will be bleak, no shimmering horizon of industry, no new jobs for keen and enthusiastic young people, just a bleak economic future. Almost as bleak, one could say, as the lang kames.

    This article raises good points about the visual impact of the wind farm, but that is not a deal breaker in my mind. The proposed VE development has a sound economic basis, proven by the clamour by investment banks to put money into wind energy schemes.

    This type of attitude looks at our isles through rose tinted spectacles, zoom in on the landscape and you’ll find a real need for innovation and growth in the economy. I respect this objection to the proposal, but would appeal to everyone to consider how important renewables could be to our future. I would choose an industrious, forward thinking Shetland ahead of a quant, but depopulated one any day.

    Kind Regards,
    Matthew Laurenson


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