The turkeys have voted for Christmas. Nine of the 13 Viking Energy windfarm developers (aka SIC councillors) sitting around the top table in the Town Hall on Tuesday voted to reject the advice of professional planners and endorse the Viking Energy project.
So what was the level of the great depth of knowledge, debate and insight on display around the table that could supplant weeks of careful analysis and advice by the SIC planning department? The promoter of the motion to reject this advice told us that he was speaking on behalf of un-born Shetlanders and couldn’t see Burradale when it was misty. Another had sailed in and out of Sullom Voe and saw no environmental problems there, so it must be ok to build a windfarm across central Shetland. Several seemed under the impression that if the windfarm isn’t built boatloads of people will leave Shetland and we’ll be transformed to a 1950s economy. Another, apparently an expert on coastal geomorphology, thought that peat slides were caused by sea level rise. One suggested that because whimbrels weren’t too bothered about Baltasound airstrip they won’t have a problem with the windfarm. Another was convinced that after a short time we wouldn’t notice the windfarm because nobody notices the communications mast on the Ward of Scousburgh.
It would have been funny to listen to if it wasn’t so pathetic and serious. I could go on but it is just as depressing to recount as it was to listen to our “representatives”. Especially so after listening to some excellent presentations in the run up to the “debate”. Presentations that highlighted the lies and deceit of Viking Energy on the health assessment and the sighting of turbines within two kilometres of housing. No apology for this was forthcoming from the developers sat round the table, just a few token crocodile tears and the highlighting of a toothless phrase in the motion to endorse the windfarm.
So why then have our turkeys voted for Christmas? Was it because of the pre-meeting rejection of the SIC planning report by the superior knowledge and experience of councillor Wishart? Could it have been because of the last minute introduction to the meeting of SIC head of economic development Neil Grant at the behest of councillor Wishart (an employee of Viking Energy)? Could it be that his re-counting of Viking Energy’s unsubstantiated promises of riches that will surely come our way if the windfarm is built that swayed the vote?
The real reason is love of money. For them all activities in Shetland must be subsidised to the hilt to survive and the only way to do that is to take a massive financial gamble with Charitable Trust funds on a single project. If the environment and the lives and well-being of many residents in the Central Mainland are destroyed in the process then so be it – what do they care? In the future if those whose lives are to be blighted by the turbines recourse to law, then I have no doubt that the Shetland Charitable Trust will have the funds ready to turn Donald Trump’s lawyer against them.
Most of those sat around the table on Tuesday were incapable of imagination and vision when it comes to the future of Shetland. They seemed oblivious to a sensible alternative offered to the meeting by councillor Wills. They didn’t take on board professional advice of SIC planning simply because it wasn’t what they wanted to hear, but went along with the hysterical promises of riches untold because it was what they wanted to hear. I can see now why they voted against further public consultation post-addendum, they knew fine well the public message would be one they didn’t want to hear.
I feel really sorry for the professionals of the SIC planning who have their efforts dismissed in such a shameful way. The new chief executive should be proud of his planning staff. Was he the one sat next to the convener rocking back and fore on his chair and chewing gum with the bored expression on his face?