Following recent Readers’ Views letters which complain that often the public do not receive answers from their local councillors, my advice is “keep on asking”.
My specific questions about the Viking Energy project were passed to councillor Bill Manson (Shetland Charitable Trust chairman and Viking chairman) earlier this year, and from that I can advise your readers, including last week’s correspondent Ian Tait, that the SIC did not appoint Allan Wishart as salaried project co-ordinator.
To recap: I was told that the VEP (Viking Energy Partnership) is 50 per cent owned by Scottish and Southern Energy and 50 per cent by VEL (Viking Energy Limited). VEL is 90 per cent owned by Shetland Charitable Trust and 10 per cent by the owners of Burradale windfarm (Shetland Aerogenerators Ltd).
“The project co-ordinator was appointed by the VEL board (in his absence) after taking appropriate personnel advice. Other trustees were not involved in his appointment. It is properly recorded in the minutes of the VEL board, which are not publicly available at this time.”
That email from Mr Manson was received on 7th May 2010, and as of today no VEL/VEP minutes or accounts are available.
Mr Wishart was appointed in July 2009 by the VEL board, which one can deduce consisted only of the four owners of Burradale windfarm. How and why they were allowed to select a representative who is in receipt of 90 per cent of his salary in this post from the coffers of the Shetland Charitable Trust raises even more questions.
Mr Wishart is of the opinion that if I (and others) do not see the benefit of the income from this project then we are choosing unemployment and depopulation for Shetland. He apparently believes that Shetland would regress to such an extent, to pre-Sullom Voe Terminal days. If we do not build this giant windfarm our current way of life will be destroyed.
Our way of life is changing as is everyone else’s in this country and will continue to change. Instead of risking our funds on this apparently increasingly shaky project in the hope of providing income to be used for long-term hand-outs and subsidies, the trustees should look again at what is really needed.
If the charitable trust money was used to fund schemes suited to Shetland which are sustainable, which would attract and provide training and employment in a variety of areas, skilled and manual, in construction, manufacture, computing, and so on, our future could be assured and the cost of running our existing services could be met from honest earnings and taxes. More people working, using and paying for facilities, safeguard those facilities.
While the UK government is encouraging and promoting local businesses our local shops and businesses are closing; entrepreneurial skills, of which there are many, in the main are not fostered or supported here.
What is more likely to keep our younger generations here? An island covered in increasing amounts of giant wind turbines, inhabited by largely unemployed, unskilled, ageing population, living stagnant and unviable lifestyles. Or a vibrant, trained, working population secure in their futures and providing for that of their children.
Unfortunately with so much power invested in so few people, the majority of us won’t have much say in the matter when decisions are made which could change all our lives.
3 Anderson Road,