17th November 2018
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Wind turbine plan for hill above Cunningsburgh

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Two new wind turbines could soon appear above Cunningsburgh if the latest in a growing list of plans for renewable energy projects in the isles is given the go-ahead.

Scroo hill, near Blett to the west of the village, might host twin aerogenerators roughly the same size as those already running at the Burradale windfarm above Tingwall.

The hope is to generate energy to feed into the interconnector cable proposed as part of the contentious Viking Energy project.

Councillors have so far failed to make a decision on the converter station at Kergord in Weisdale which is needed before the cable can go ahead.

But an alternative proposal could be to tap into Scottish and Southern Energy’s recently promised “smart grid” which would provide real improvements over the existing grid and take an extra 10 MegaWatts of wind power from within Shetland.

The turbine project is currently being drawn up by family partnership Freelight (Shetland) Ltd of Cunningsburgh.

Should it go ahead the turbines will be erected on common grazing land forming part of the Bruce estate, whose formal name is the Sumburgh Company, owned by the Laird of Sandlodge, in Sandwick.

Freelight director Douglas Halcrow runs the enterprise alongside another five members of his extended family.

He said the proposal was at an early stage, but stressed the time was right for wind energy development.

He added recent readings and “desk-top studies” had shown Scroo to be a viable option for placing aerogenerators.

“If this interconnector goes ahead we’d like to see wind as a viable business,” he said. “The main thing is there is no pollution with wind.

“The highest hills would have the most potential. Scroo seems to fit the bill well. It seems to tick all the right boxes as far as our company is concerned.”

Freelight is also eager to benefit from feed-in tariffs available for renewable energy projects.

Mr Halcrow said progress needed to be made on approving the cable or improving the grid before wind energy could fully realise its potential.

“As things stand at the moment there are no more folk getting into the local grid,” he added.

This is not the first time turbines have been considered for Scroo hill. The hydro had test masts there with a view to setting up a permanent aerogenerator on site around 20 years ago. However it chose Susetter Hill in Voe instead.

The latest turbine idea has also been floated to the local hill grazings committee whose members would benefit financially each year.

Committee member Robert Halcrow stressed the plans were at a very early stage. He said the matter was due to come up for discussion during an imminent hill grazings commitee meeting in January.

“They [the developer] wrote to the committee saying that they would like to propose putting the turbines up,” he said.

“We still have to have a shareholders’ meeting to see if they are happy with that. We’re looking to have that in the new year.”

It comes after similar proposals for the south-east corner of Yell came to light earlier this year. Those plans were put forward by European company Enertrag UK Ltd.

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About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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