Shame, regret and sadness

It has become clear as glass during the debate over recent weeks that the proposed Viking windfarm is about one thing, and one thing only: money.

Projected windfarm income, we’re told, is going to preserve “the lifestyle we’ve all become accustomed to” (Shetland Life, November editorial). While the rest of the country faces job losses and drastic cuts in services and benefits, we’ll be alright up here, thanks to Viking Energy.

Who is “we” in this context? Who actually enjoys this enviable lifestyle? Having worked in the voluntary sector for many years (suicide prevention/drugs/alcohol/mental health) I have come across countless individuals who are on the bread-line in this oil-rich community, because benefits are the same across the country, while prices are not. Individuals on low incomes or benefits – and there are many of them in Shetland – have no share of this bonanza.

In oil-rich Shetland we still have many who struggle to make ends meet and rarely, if ever, can afford to access facilities and entertainments the rest of us take for granted, and all the cash flowing from Sullom Voe into the SIC coffers hasn’t made the slightest difference to them.

If anything, our oil wealth has dramatically widened the gap between rich and poor, and the promised new wealth will not make one iota of difference to their lives. They will be just as drastically affected by cuts in benefits as those in the rest of the country.

Shetland, despite all the roads, leisure centres and care homes, is a deeply unfair and unjust society, and the VE windfarm, if built, will only serve to compound this at best.

At worst those living within or near the windfarm will see their quality of life as well as the values of their properties plummet.

VE insists that nobody will be affected by noise or shadow flicker from its turbines, which I believe to be misguided.

In 1999 a German court ruled that a wind turbine with an overall height of 100 metres caused shadow flicker up to a distance of 1,625 metres. Applied to the height of VE’s 3.6MW turbines, this figure is 2,356 metres.

This will affect several households within or near the windfarm sites; I feel especially for the lady who lives at “Halfway House” with no less than three turbines within just over 1,000 metres from her doorstep.

Last year, on Radio Shetland, Bill Manson, chairman of Viking Energy, stated categorically that no compensation would be paid to individuals due to noise, shadow flicker and falling property values caused by the windfarm.

All these millions, and not a penny for those worst affected? If our society should ever be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable members, I’m afraid the verdict is bound to be a source of shame, regret and sadness.

Rosa Steppanova
The Lea,


Add Your Comment
  • Frank Hay

    • November 17th, 2010 15:31

    Well said Rosa. It should be noted that most of the comments in favour of Viking Energy come from people who do not live in the area which would be blighted by this development.
    2 km from homes should be the minimum setback for an industrial wind turbine development on this scale.

  • Steve Mullay

    • November 18th, 2010 21:10

    Come on. Most Shetlanders have benefited from North Sea oil in one way or another, plain and simple. There will be many more islanders ‘on the breadline’ in years to come without a durable and practical alternative.

  • Danny Mullay

    • November 22nd, 2010 15:59

    So, the solution to inequality is to neglect to pursue new sources of wealth?

  • Irene kale

    • November 26th, 2010 0:06

    I read recently that Shetland was considered the most unspolied place in the UK. Not for much longer by the looks of things. Having visited many other Scottish islands I had hoped to come visit you guys too, however being from the central belt it is nice to get away from industrial wind farms.With the proposed development covering what looks like roughly 1/6th of your island, it’s looking unappealing now unless the decision is overturned by some miracle. I am sorry to say this as I have great fondness for the islands and their friendly communities, and you have my sympathy.

    Mr S. Mullay, with all due respect either you are either a Viking Energy shill or you have bought into an enormous lie. These things don’t generate local income, just a lot of noise, environmental damage, abnormal load HGV traffic and a few jobs for guys who go around picking up dead birds before the public get to see them. In the long run you can only lose from this development.

    Blessings and good luck to all in Shetland.

  • Kevan Brown

    • December 15th, 2010 12:24

    I had the great joy to have lived in Shetland at a period of prosperity, and have made good and lasting friendships since then. However, I found on a personal level, that money doesn’t give the happiness we want.
    I admit that the windfarm issue on the Islands isn”t one with which I’m totally familiar, but it is good that local customary common sense may be noting the matter for what it is.
    It strikes me as a paradox that the loss of the Coastguard could occur now too, and also for monetary gain. Given the age old link between Shetlanders and the sea, it is my sincere hope that this has other, valid, reasons too.


    Kevan Brown.


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