Bullish rhetoric

The recent launch of the Northern Isles New Energy Solutions (NINES) by Scottish and Southern Energy is to be welcomed for the visionary proposal it is. As an initiative to demonstrate how appropriate renewable resources can be integrated into a grid network it is very innovative.

Using Shetland as a test bed due to its isolated grid is exactly what Sustainable Shetland has been advocating. Provision of thermal back-up from a new power station, using fuel gas from the Total terminal, would give Shetland a bright outlook in terms of reliable, clean and economic supply. It would provide us with the means of bringing more fit-for-scale renewables on stream to supply local needs.

In contrast to this imaginative project, however, the chief executive of SSE insists on promoting the unrelated Viking Energy windfarm with bullish rhetoric, which windfarm developers seem to favour.

There is no inevitability to the Viking Energy windfarm going ahead, quite the contrary. It is a deeply controversial proposal with outstanding objections still in place that are far from resolved.

For such a huge windfarm located in a small island community it is inconceivable that a public local inquiry would not be called. I find the assumption that a planning consent will be granted offensive; it illustrates a lack of regard by the developer to genuine public concern, not to mention the objections from many credible organisations. Elected politicians should not share this lack of regard locally or nationally.

The community involvement is an essential part of SSE’s strategy in achieving a planning consent; the windfarm has been sold in Holyrood as a community-backed scheme, something that it is not.

Never in my lifetime have I seen such arrogant high-handedness from a council when it comes to mis-representing its electorate; the same holds for our MSP and MP.

The community has been denied a proper voice by the council’s refusal to hold a referendum, or employ any credible method of gauging public opinion since the addendum was published. The overwhelming majority of objections to the energy consents and deployment unit is the most valid indicator and our politicians still choose to ignore those official figures.

Shetland Charitable Trust’s withdrawal of our funding would deal a severe blow to the prospect of obtaining planning consent. The removal of the Busta Estate land by the council would effectively kill the project off.

SIC convener Sandy Cluness stated on 1st July 2009: “My view is that if the majority of the Shetland public are against it then it shouldn’t go ahead.”

The majority are against it, but this view was absent when the council’s recommendation for approval was railroaded through on 14th December.

The Viking Energy windfarm has planning and commercial mountains to climb and is not a done deal, despite the political agenda being driven from the heart of Scottish government. The Shetland public must never forget that.

The opposition goes on and continues to grow. If you have not already written or emailed energy minister Jim Mather, asking him to refuse consent or at the very least hold a public local inquiry, please do so now. Email Jim.Mather.msp@scottish.parliament.uk or write to: Scottish Energy Minister, The Scottish Government, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP.

Billy Fox
Sustainable Shetland


Add Your Comment
  • Leslie Lowes

    • March 3rd, 2011 15:16

    Billy Fox and members of Sustainable Shetland can say it often as they like, but there is no Shetland majority against the Viking Energy windfarm and continually saying there is does not make it so!

  • Kevin Learmonth

    • March 3rd, 2011 16:53

    Objections to Energy Consents Unit. 2736
    Support to Energy Consent unit: 1114.
    Over 85% of all responses came from Shetland.

    I’ll save you the trouble of the maths: around 71% of responses objected to the windfarm, 29% supported it. If the planning responses are of no importance, why did Viking Energy and Mr Lowes put such effort into getting people to respond to the Energy Consents Unit?

    If Viking Energy and their supporters think that 1114 is a larger number than 2736, then that perhaps says a lot about their approach to numbers and finance.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • March 3rd, 2011 20:08

    No they don’t have a majority in Shetland but that could be because they live in cloud cuckoo land.

  • Billy Fox, Quarff

    • March 4th, 2011 17:21

    I am quite happy for folk to form their own opinion on the level of objection or support for the wind farm without engaging in a puerile I say black you say white exchange.

    If the Shetland Islands Council and Viking Energy believed there was majority support they would have held a referendum a long time ago; its absence speaks volumes.

  • lindsay wiseman

    • March 4th, 2011 18:29

    what is wrong with the pro Viking Windfarm lot – can’t they understand the figures that the ECU reported – or are they calling the ECU liars??
    Lindsay Wiseman

  • Ian tinkler

    • March 5th, 2011 15:23

    Les how do you know there is no Shetland majority against the Viking Energy windfarm ?
    Quite a claim, back up your statement if you can. Otherwise kill the lie and appear honest.

  • Gordon harmer

    • March 7th, 2011 10:02

    1.5% of the Shetland population marched against the proposed wind farm, Sustainable Shetland claim 800 members = 3.6% of the Shetland population hardly a majority they only just make a minority.
    The last opinion pole held by the Shetland Times showed more in favour than against the wind farm an indisputable fact wich Sustainable Shetland choose to forget.
    It is a known fact that people who oppose some thing shout louder and those in favour generally stay silent hence the silent majority This is history repeating its self, as in the seventies the noisy minority where against Sullom Voe but thank goodness the silent majority won the day and we all reap the benefits.

  • lindsay wiseman

    • March 8th, 2011 11:37

    In reply to Gordon Harmer’s comment of 3 March – yes, it seems we do all live in cloud cuckoo land run by the 9 councillors who voted against their Planning Dept’s recommendations. I don’t remember being asked my opinion for the Shetland Times poll nor do I know anyone who was. Funny how the Burradale relations seem to be the ones doing the loudestt shouting for V.E. and belittling Sustainable Shetland the most.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • March 8th, 2011 14:34

    Lindsay if you had not put your name to the above comment I would have thought it came from an attendee of the local kindergarten. Such comments are the reason some objectors are nor taken seriously, if that is all you can use for an argument its time for you to give it up.

  • lindsay wiseman

    • March 8th, 2011 15:00

    Touch a sore point did I Gordon!!

  • Kathy Greaves

    • March 11th, 2011 19:53

    Dear Editor

    This is what I was afraid of, and could see coming – personal insults against contributors to the debate on the Viking Energy project. This is not helping the debate on whether Shetland either wants or needs a giant wind farm.

    And Mr Harmer, how many paid up members of the VE Support Group are there? Numbers please. How many amongst you have gone to the trouble of picking up a pen, or have logged onto a website in support of the VE project? Not so many.

    When did the act of remaining silent become synonymous with supporting any cause? If letters such as yours are to go by, the supporters are not so silent anyway.

    No, opposers to the VE project put their hands up, speak out and even march so that their voices can be heard. But then, who is listening?

    Kathy Greaves

  • Gordon Harmer

    • March 15th, 2011 13:03

    I have never claimed to be a member of any group, I speak for myself in these columns, so sorry I cannot give you the numbers you ask for Kathy. I also believe in healthy debate and making unsubstantiated claims happens on both sides of any argument during this process.
    I disagree with you and those like you but if the wind farm does not happen and the future of Shetland as I see it is threatened at least I can say I tried to do some thing to about it. The same applies to you and your argument if the wind farm goes ahead.
    I apologise if my earlier comments upset you but I felt Lindsays comment deserved it.

  • lindsay wiseman

    • March 15th, 2011 19:28

    Gordon without naming names my comment was based on actual fact – what was your earlier comment regarding an attendee of a local kindergarten based on or don’t you like being quoted.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • March 16th, 2011 9:08

    Lindsay your first comment included fact and fiction the beginning was a valid argument, the last sentence was below the belt and untrue, it would have been true a few years ago but not now, hence my reply.
    I have friends and relations who are both for and against the wind farm and we debate the issues in a civilised manner. My views are based on what I believe will secure a better future for my relatives, yes, my children and especially my grand children.

  • lindsay wiseman

    • March 16th, 2011 12:31

    Gordon, there are more people in Shetland connected to VE project than you. There is a certain person who we can’t meet in public without being ragged about being anti-windfarm surporters. So no more insults please, if you want to debate VE merits or de-merits in a civilised fashion thats ok. You think its a positive step but consider those who are living in the districts where the windfarms are planned – would you like them planted outside your window and within earshot.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • March 16th, 2011 16:47

    Lindsay you are entitled to your view on the wind farm and I respect that and would not rag you about it..Where I live in Brae I will have one of the best views of the windfarm in Shetland but I am still for it. I believe in healthy debate and believe that your views are valid and I will listen to them.
    If you would like to debate the subject in more detail I am in the local phone book and on facebook so if you wish get in touch and we can carry this on by email or any media you wish.


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