17th October 2018
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Sustainable Shetland attacks ‘astonishing’ reduction in windfarm carbon payback

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The reduction in the carbon payback period of Viking Energy’s proposed windfarm to less than a year is “astonishing” and based on flawed assumptions, according to opponents Sustainable Shetland.

The group makes the accusation in its submission to the Scottish government’s energy consents unit (ECU), which it submitted before the deadline on Friday and made public last night.

Sustainable Shetland’s submission builds on its original objection to the windfarm, in which it called for a public inquiry, claiming that even with a cut in the number of turbines from 150 to 127 the windfarm would still be unacceptable for a small island like Shetland.

The 15 per cent reduction in the number of turbines has, the group notes, been accompanied by a 96.2 per cent fall in the carbon payback period.

“The methodology by which this astonishing reduction has been achieved we believe to be fundamentally flawed, if not misleading, and indeed one of the assumptions used in the calculations has been publicly described as an error by an independent reviewer.”

This was Dr Dick Birnie of Aberdeen’s Macaulay Land Use Research Institute who said at a meeting last week that Viking Energy had wrongly assumed that the whole windfarm blanket bog area was eroding as if it were bare peat.

Sustainable Shetland contends that construction activity will increase the risk of peat slides, adding to the possibility of carbon release and further undermining the payback predictions.

“We find the carbon payback calculations presented in the addendum to contain errors, contradictory measurements and a misrepresentation of the worst case scenario. We can have no confidence in the figures produced as results, and we believe that the carbon payback period for best, intermediate and worst case scenario could be significantly higher. In the latter case the figure could rise dramatically if different parameters had been assumed and more appropriate data inputed …”

The group believes the construction of the windfarm and its existence would be a “major deterrent to tourism”.

Sustainable Shetland repeats its criticism of the “fundamental and irreconcilable conflict of interest between the same individuals actnig as both elected councillors and trustees of Shetland Charitable Trust”.

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