While around the world renewable energy is considered one of the main challenges and one of the really important options for now and the future, while our neighbouring countries are developing wind power in an ever bigger way, Shetland, in its prime-cut position between the North Atlantic and the North Sea, is running a serious risk of missing out.
In its “detest Viking” campaign, Sustainable Shetland now finds the amenity trust at its side. And out of every drawer, no holds barred, the arguments against the windfarm are pulled.
Tourism will be severely hit, Shetland’s name as a pristine environment will be lost forever, the hideous turbines will clutter the skyline and decimate our birds, carbon released from the peat will soil our footprint, water courses will be contaminated, you name it, anything goes.
People who used to be barely aware the Long Kames even existed, allow themselves to be up in arms against an enterprise that will benefit both the environment and Shetland’s long-term financial position. Education, old folks’ care, social services, roads, all those will profit.
Why the animosity? Is it the fruit of honest indignation? A fear of things a-changing? Or might even a hint at a certain green-eyed monster be in place? A nagging suspicion that others are going to make a packet?
There is the visual aspect, the aesthetics of the matter. And then the carbon controversy. A project aiming at vastly reducing carbon dioxide production is blamed for the fact that during its construction stage a modest amount of carbon dioxide may be released from the peat. Ever heard that kind of complaint in relation to the massive peat removal up north by the oil giant – yes, oil giant – Total?
Then the birds. A certain number of breeding birds may be disturbed. Viking’s opponents tend to suggest that a bird disturbed is a bird lost. Listening to the RSPB, you might think it’s a well-guarded secret that most birds can fly. (Yes, they can.) Disturb a bird, and it will move on to a quieter spot. And there happen to be quiet spots aplenty all over the isles. Why shouldn’t a red-throated diver now breeding somewhere in da Kames be just as contented after relocating to a place like, say, Papa Little? Same light. Same darkness. Same wind. Same rain.
How is it possible that some people in these islands really seem to be willing to gamble away the future prosperity of Shetland’s younger generations? Anyone in their right mind can see that it would be sheer madness and the height of irresponsibility for Shetland to pass up a great opportunity such as this.
Bridge of Walls.