BP’s plan to build a new floating production vessel for its Schiehallion field could result in a major reduction in tanker traffic through Sullom Voe. The new vessel would allow water to be removed from the oil that comes up from the well offshore rather than at Sullom Voe as at present. The company hints, although is not explicit, in its scoping report at taking the oil direct to market after 2015. That would be a great loss to the terminal and to the council. It is to be hoped that the company informs the council of the true nature of its plans; it is not minded to let the public know through the media.
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If the council is to spend some of the oil reserves on housing, proper studies must be carried out into where they should best be sited for the broad economic benefit of the isles. There is no doubt of the need for council and housing association homes. But the increasing concentration of population in Lerwick and the central Mainland would suggest that any further building ought to be tied to trying to preserve smaller communities and directing economic activity, where possible, away from the centre.
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The closing date for submissions objecting to or in support of the Viking Energy windfarm passed on Friday. Only Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), which was granted an extension, and the council, which has until 18th December to submit its view, have yet to declare their opinions. It will be fascinating to see whether councillors will run the risk of being reported to the Standards Commission on conflict of interest grounds, given that all but one of them have dual roles as members and trustees of Shetland Charitable Trust, or declare an interest or abstain.
Meanwhile, work on The Shetland Times poll proceeds and the results will be published before councillors meet on Tuesday 14th December.