20th November 2018
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Review of the Year – October: New Viking plan for 23 fewer turbines

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Viking Energy finally revealed the much-anticipated slimmed down proposals for its controversial windfarm development, which cut the number of planned turbines from 150 to 127.

Project co-ordinator Allan Wishart said the proposal equalled the opportunities presented by the oil industry in the 1970s. He believed the windfarm would earn £930 million for the islands across its 23-year lifespan.

However opponents condemned the changes as being merely cosmetic. Sustainable Shetland chairman Billy Fox said he was at a loss to understand how Viking had reached a carbon payback estimation of under one year.

In time Sustainable Shetland would seek a fresh round of consultation meetings to discuss the altered layout of the plans. That wish was not granted.

It was the end of the road for Whalsay Fish. The struggling processing factory at Symbister was placed into administration after failing to turn round its dwindling fortunes.

The SIC later said it expected to receive only a fifth of an outstanding £530,000 loan owed by the beleaguered company when it collapsed.

Councillors were in despair when they learnt that just £2.2 million had been found towards the target of cutting back this year’s spending by £9.9 million.

Pupils from Scalloway Junior High continued in their fight to save their school. Five youngsters handed a petition with over 1,000 signatures against the proposal to council convener Sandy Cluness.

A Skerries mother, Julie Arthur, said her family faced little choice but to leave the island if its secondary department was scrapped.

Closure threatened schools, meanwhile, were thrown a potential lifeline by the Scottish government. Education secretary Mike Russell said councils should accept any viable alternative to closure put forward by communities.

Energy and climate change minister Chris Huhne entered the long-running debate on deep-sea drilling by the oil industry. He said the activities were both vital and safe. That clashed with an admission by Chevron’s own managing director that, in a worst case scenario, an explosion in the Lagavulin field north-west of Shetland could prove worse than the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

Head of finance Graham Johnston admitted his department may benefit from more staff to help deal with its workload. The Singing Kettle returned to the isles to keep the young ones entertained, after proving a hit at the folk festival.

Food writer, cook and presenter Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall also arrived in the isles – this time to film for a new series about the fishing industry.

A guillet’s goby would, you might suspect, not go far on anybody’s plate – nonetheless Europe’s smallest marine fish was found off the coast at Lunna by two local divers.

Transport to and from Whalsay once again came up for discussion. This time, efforts were being made to track down a suitable charter ferry to ease the growing logjam on the Whalsay route.

A competition was launched to find a name for NorthLink’s new cargo vessel. As ever, it had to start with an “H”.

Showaddywaddy made their belated appearance at the Clickimin, April’s ash cloud now having dispersed.

A previously unknown archaeological site, dating back up to 5,000 years, was discovered at the new Total site.

New premises for the Community Bike Project in Lerwick were opened by Alistair Carmichael.

Production at the Schiehallion oil field west of Shetland was stopped once again for maintenance, although the harbour board were scratching their heads as to why.

The UK’s most northerly fire station was officially opened in Baltasound.

We learned Shetland will be included in a pilot scheme which could see fuel at the pumps reduced by 5p a litre.

Whalsay fisherman Alan Arthur died tragically after going overboard from a creel boat off Yell.

It emerged the police stations at Dunrossness and Scalloway were under threat of closure. The cost-cutting measures at Northern Constabulary might also see opening times at the Lerwick station reduced to 12 hours a day.

The SIC reacted furiously after hearing Shetland was to lose its coastguard emergency tug cover in less than a year’s time as part of a programme of spending cutbacks announced by the UK government.

The government hinted it may be willing to revisit the idea after a tug was called to assist when a nuclear-powered submarine became stranded off Skye.

This particular issue over coastguard cover, however, was just the tip of the iceberg …

Burravoe in Yell was the latest area in the isles to be primed for renewable energy development, with a European company confirming its interest in building a windfarm with a dozen or more turbines.

Ness couple Hansen and Charlotte Black and their six children had a hair-raising moment when a stolen car crashed into their vehicle on an English motorway during a high-speed police chase.

Seabird populations around the isles were said to have had a disastrous breeding season, with some species having the worst results on record and the 700 breeding terns in Mousa failing to produce a single chick.

The young folk who headed to Delhi to dance at the Commonwealth Games – performing to 60,000 spectators in the stadium and watched by an estimated one billion people worldwide – described their experience as amazing.

Vegetable grower Ian Clark was left impressed with his first crop of tatties. One monster weighed in at 1.08kg.

Efforts to provide superfast broadband received a boost when the UK government announced a new pot of money to be invested in enabling the technology to be rolled out in remote areas.

Head of Shetland College George Smith announced his plans to retire.

New statistics from the NHS showed Shetland had the highest fertility rate in Scotland, giving the isles something of a baby-boom.

Experienced children’s physiotherapist, Kay Leask, began a battle to avoid being suspended or struck off by the Health Professions Council after being accused of being unfit to practice as a result of alleged misconduct and incompetence.

The contract to build Total’s new gas plant at Sullom Voe was awarded to oil services company Petrofac.

Alistair Buchan said the SIC was not in a fit state to make savings of the scale needed in the current financial climate.

He said he wanted to see radical action to bring the organisation up to scratch over the next few months.

Teething troubles were delaying the introduction of new tugs at Sullom Voe.

Patients receiving home visits were asked not to smoke during the visit and, ideally, not for an hour beforehand.

Fencer Christopher Rocks won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth fencing championships in Melbourne, Australia.

Shetland Rugby went down 19-3 to Huntly, when a 3-0 half time lead was overturned by the home side in a strong second half.

However the Shetland hockey team defeated Aberdeen Grammar school FP 3-0 in the first round of the Activity Women’s District Cup.

Letters There are many folk who feel the Blueprint consultation is a sham as the views expressed in the communities which are facing school closures don’t seem to be listened to.

When Bill Manson was faced with this charge on Radio Shetland (Monday 6th December) he stated that this was not the case as the council had been listening, it just didn’t agree with what was being said. But if this doesn’t constitute a sham consultation, what does?

Cheryl Jamieson The vote to close Scalloway secondary is again a further example of the SIC railroading through ill-thought policies to the detriment of the Shetland public on a large scale and thus it represents yet another gross and wreckless abuse of power by council members.

James Arthur Johnson Democracy Shetland style: how do some people sleep at night? Probably better than me because they won’t have a home with a young family next to giant wind turbines.

Ingrid Smith A large area of irresponsibility was slow moving over the central belt of Scotland last week resulting in ridiculous travel aspirations and a complete loss of common sense.

Now to put a little more detail on this weather forecast. Individuals planning to drive have a choice when travelling in snowy conditions, and unless visually impaired should have retained the capacity to look out the window and work out that very heavy snow over an unusually long period will make for dangerous and difficult travel conditions.

Added to that, the superb range of weather forecasting information available on television, radio, online and from the local council means there would be no need for Scottish ministers, with limited weather knowledge, to make ridiculous accusations about the capacity of the Met Office accurately to forecast the weather.

People are advised to look out the window and watch the weather forecast before deciding whether it is absolutely necessary to travel in such severe weather conditions, and avoid joining the blame society encouraged by our MSPs.

Linda Tait

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