Viking Energy windfarm wins approval from energy minister

Click on image to enlarge.

The Viking Energy windfarm has been approved by Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing, it was announced this morning.

However it will comprise 103 turbines and not 127 as proposed after the government witheld consent for 24 turbines near Scatsta Airport. The Civil Aviation authority had said they would interfere with aircraft instruments.

Anti-windfarm campaigners had hoped the minister would refuse the application by the Viking Energy Partnership (VEP) – Shetland Charitable Trust, the owners of the Burradale windfarm and energy giant SSE – or at the very least order a public inquiry.

But in a statement Mr Ewing said: “This windfarm will bring enormous benefits to the people of Shetland, generating more than £30 million annual income for the entire Shetland community. Around £20 million of that will go directly to the Shetland Charitable Trust.

“The development will create jobs and bring income, and makes the case for an interconnector to connect Shetland for the first time to the National Grid – paving the way for more exports and further renewable energy opportunities for the Islands, including community projects and marine energy developments.

“The development includes an extensive habitat management plan covering around 12,800 acres, which will restore peatland and offer benefits to a whole range of species and habitats.”

The 370MW windfarm, comprising turbines up to 145m tall, will be the third biggest in Scotland and Mr Ewing said it would power more than 175,000 households, 16 times the number in Shetland.

He said it would require £566 million of capital expenditure and yield 140 jobs during construction and 34 when operational. He said he expected Viking to “maximise the potential for local employment and use of local businesses”.

The windfarm will allow the construction of an interconnector allowing Shetland to export electricity to the mainland, opening up further opportunities for the islands to benefit from renewables, including community schemes and marine renewables.

It is the 50th renewable energy project consented by Scottish ministers since May 2007.

Mr Ewing said: “Last week, figures showed Scotland exceeded our ambitious renewable electricity targets for 2011, with more than a third of our electricity demand coming from renewables.

“Developments like Viking will help us meet our 2020 target, and will make a huge contribution to our target of 500MW from community and locally-owned renewable energy by 2020, while benefiting communities, cutting emissions, and helping to keep energy bills lower.”

VEP first applied for permission for 150 turbines in May 2009. It then submitted a supplementary application seeking permission for 127 turbines. The Scottish government’s energy consents unit, which handles such applications, received 2,772 objections to the project and 1,115 notices of support.

In a report for members of the charitable trust last week, which was withdrawn at the last minute from the meeting, trust financial controller Jeff Goddard said it would be another 18 months to two years before work began on the project to allow time for finalising connection and transmission charging, procurement and construction contracts, turbine warranty and maintenance, long-term trading deals for the electricity output, debt arrangements, payments for land use and further ground investigation work.


Add Your Comment
  • Simon Barr

    • April 4th, 2012 10:33

    I had been regretting leaving Shetland in 2011. I greatly miss the beautiful natural environment, this announcement will reduce my regrets.

    A very sad day for me.

  • Paula Goddard

    • April 4th, 2012 10:39

    At last ! Desicion made for us . No more pettiness in the letters part of the paper, insted future councillors putting their interest into the people of Shetland ,and a reason to look at other means of producing electricity. A good day for Shetland Hurrah !!

  • Andrew Goodlad

    • April 4th, 2012 10:55

    They moaned about the Oil coming, They moaned about the Wind Farm.

    They are happy with the Oil now, and happy with Total building more infrastructure in Shetland.

    Hopefully with time they will realise all the false negative arguments like Turbines Killing Birds and begin to accept the cleaner future.
    I am very happy with this announcement. Scotland is really leading the way.

  • D. Thomson

    • April 4th, 2012 11:02

    A cynical political decision by the SNP government and a black day for Shetland’s environment.
    Seventy four of the turbines will be built within 2000 metres of dwelling houses. If your house is one of these then today its value has dropped by as much as 40%.

  • Stewart Mack

    • April 4th, 2012 11:02

    People should mark today in their calenders – Its a sad day for Shetland.
    The landscape will be blighted by these monstrosities. Its a pity as a scheme such as this might have had a place in Shetland, in the right area, with the right sized development but in typical fashion the “powers that be” have steam rollered ahead regardless of concerns rather than looking at alternatives which addressed the legitimate concerns raised. i sincerely believe it is a decision that many supporters of the scheme will live to regret- What will be interesting is whether theycontinue to live in Shetland and regret it

  • ian tinkler

    • April 4th, 2012 11:09

    Ian Tinkler, Shetland West. Viking Energy. Now we truly see how the SNP regard the views of Shetland Folk. They do not even bother to ask, or wait to find out. They do not dare wait until after our forthcoming election, what disgraceful conduct. However, this fight is not over yet, not by a long way. VE is nearly half the original size, half won or half lost, this fight goes on. Make your vote count; do not let it go to waste, vote with me to stop this shameful decision.

  • roberta clubb

    • April 4th, 2012 12:00

    A sad day for Shetland indeed.

    A happy one for the present scottish government`s scoreboard.

  • Jim Leask

    • April 4th, 2012 12:12

    @Ian – How will you “stop this shameful decision”? Does a SIC elected representative have the power to reverse a government decision? Would your attempts lead to another shameful waste of SIC funds and lead to more years being squandered in fighting between elected officials. As a voter I would also be concerned as to whether you would be able to represent the constituants that were in favour of Viking? If the majority proved to be in favour…..would you present their views or stick to your rather one sided views?

  • Harry Dent

    • April 4th, 2012 12:15

    I’m deeply upset by the Scottish government’s decision.

    “The development will create jobs” says the minister. Yes, a massive 34 jobs; that should kick-start the economy, minister.

    Meanwhile, valuable carbon sink bog will be lost, important habitats wrecked, and beautiful countryside despoiled.

    Shetland will be diminished in so many ways, and big business will rake in the millions.

    Same old capitalist story.

  • John Tulloch

    • April 4th, 2012 12:23

    I wondered why they needed to ask for the extra money from SCT for the “joint venture” (?) before the elections – now we know.

    If this is how the SNP behaves with devolution, imagine how they’ll behave if they get independence, especially, if Shetland tries to oppose it and go it alone and they have regulatory power for the energy industry. The same scenario they currently face with English people paying for their fantasies could be turned on Shetland.

    Bit of a stab in the back for their local stalwarts – turkeys, Christmas and all that!

    Hasta la vista, democracy!

  • Ivor Johnson

    • April 4th, 2012 12:46

    Great News!

    This is a good decicion by the authority for the environment and will have a very positive impact on the local community. It will create jobs, improve infrastructure and allow additional income to sustain the very high standard of living we’ve all grown used to!

    Well Done.

  • Kathy Greaves

    • April 4th, 2012 12:58

    “This windfarm will bring enormous benefits to the people of Shetland, generating more than £30 million annual income for the entire Shetland community. Around £20 million of that will go directly to the Shetland Charitable Trust’.

    Call me cynical, but I do not believe this for one moment. Can we quote Mr Ewing on this, and claim back the shortfall amount from him personally or from the Scottish Government? Is this £30million to be ours before or after tax, windfall tax, VAT, bank repayments, bank interest (at what rates) and so on. And for how long will the £30mil continue – a year or two, or for the full 25 year life span of VE; will it increase annually with the cost of living, or with any other index?

    If VE and the Charitable Trust were to concentrate on supporting the people, the inhabitants, of Shetland in a more practical and immediate way, they could apply all their combined efforts, experience, expertise, on constructing small wind turbine farms on those islands solely for the real benefit of the Shetland people,.

    They could allow any Shetland resident to further benefit by only allowing us to purchase shares in the company, by setting lower tarrifs, and use any actual profits for Shetland based projects.

    And what can ever compensate for the ruination of our islands?

    I think we should all have an input, it should be put to the vote; this should not be allowed to happen just on the consent of one, remote, Scottish minister who has nothing to do with our islands.

    Kathy Greaves

  • Paul Bird

    • April 4th, 2012 13:15

    Shetland’s council elections have just potentially turned into the first steps towards Shetlanders seeking an independent Shetland – hopfully not allied to a tyrannical SNP led Scotland – hell bent on returning Shetland and its people back to servitude. They couldn’t even be bothered to wait for a democratic vote – this decision smacks of desperation to force a decision before the next council is elected just in case they have more sense than the last lot.


    • April 4th, 2012 13:19

    At last a decision has been made. What needs to happen is that an airtight contract made for VE with guaranteed minimum income for the charitable trust, and perhaps we may see the freefield lunch club back. Everyone has to move forward now and look forward to the cash benefits this will bring to all of the people in Shetland.

  • ian tinkler

    • April 4th, 2012 14:29

    Ask yourself this question, why has approval for The Viking Project come now, just before an election? Why no referendum as promised, why no public enquiry? However you feel about The Viking Project, why was the opinion of Shetlander’s never formally canvassed. If ever there was a reason for Shetland to move away from a Salmond led Scotland, we now have it. I think Salmond and Ewing have just made a huge mistake. Very many Shetland folk have had their opinion ignored or to be more precise have never been formally asked what their opinion might be, that is an insult to all of us! We have all been treated with utter contempt by both Ewing and Salmond.

  • Johnny Smith

    • April 4th, 2012 16:08

    This is by far the best news Shetland has had for sometime. Perhaps the Viking project could be extended over to Bressay as there is scope for many here also.

  • Jim MacLeod

    • April 4th, 2012 16:18

    Best news for ages!

  • Les Lowes

    • April 4th, 2012 17:09

    Delighted to hear this, it has made my day!.

    This gives Shetland opportunity to develop new green energy resources and will bring in substantial revenues to the Shetland Charitable Trust as well as community councils for local disbursement. It is a great opportunity for this community to develop and to have a good standard of living and less need for cuts in services if they are supported by SCT in the future.

    Some people I know, will be disappointed, but they too will feel the benefits in time and so will their children and grandchildren.

    This is great news for Shetland. Bring it on!

  • Gordon Harmer

    • April 4th, 2012 18:45

    This is excellent news for Shetland and Shetland’s future and the future of services which are under the axe at present. It is a pity that magnanimity could not be shown by some who disagree, especially one who may well need to show magnanimity after the third of May.

  • Leona Gear

    • April 4th, 2012 19:04

    Finally! Now we can contribute to a better future! Renewable energy is a fact and I think Shetland, with so much wind, should be leading the way. Not trailing behind because people reject change!

    I personally think wind turbines are beautiful. It will make a boring bog look a whole lot better!

    I totally agree with Andrew, moaning about the oil, moaning about the wind farm. Look at what oil has done for Shetland. Wind has a lot of potential for us too!

    I wonder how many of the beauty objectors have actually bothered to see a wind farm like Whitelee?

    I would advise people to check out the myth section on the VE website.

  • Robina Barton

    • April 4th, 2012 19:20

    If this project has such great green credentials why is it that Scottish Natural Heritage, The John Muir Trust and Shetland Amenity Trust all objected, and the RSPB have today expressed reservations? It strikes me that many of the people who keep claiming it will benefit the environment do not have any knowledge or expertise on which to base their claims, while the views of those who do have knowledge and expertise have been dismissed. It would be better if we left the environment out of the discussions since clearly this project is about money (and I suspect for the few rather than the many).

  • James Soper

    • April 4th, 2012 21:34

    “Developments like Viking will help us meet our 2020 target, and will make a huge contribution to our target of 500MW from community and locally-owned renewable energy by 2020, while benefiting communities, cutting emissions, and helping to keep energy bills lower.”

    Apparently this is such a good deal for Shetland it has been announced before the election and without a public inquiry. Does anyone else smell a rat?

    Help meet 2020 target: Yes
    Huge contribution to 500MW target: Debatable, is this project really “community and locally-owned”?
    Benefititing communities: Debatable- what sense does it make to green light a project before community benefits have been agreed? 34 jobs, whilst welcome, are not going to transform the islands. And “paving the way for more exports and further renewable energy opportunities for the Islands” implies more developments are planned for the future.
    Cutting emissions: Debatable
    Helping keep energy bills lower: Hard to believe after the building of the interconnector.

    If this was such a good deal for Shetland and the average Shetlander they wouldn’t have ignored the objections and calls for an inquiry. It seems to be a much better deal for the SNP and those set to benefit directly from the project.

  • Robert Sim

    • April 4th, 2012 22:26

    I am deeply sceptical, to say the least, about the windfarm. However some of those who are unhappy with today’s decision are making ridiculous assertions about why this decision demonstrates that Shetland must “go it alone” in the event of independence. It needs pointing out that the Scottish Government didn’t develop the windfarm plan – folk in Shetland had a big hand in it.

  • Katie Coutts

    • April 5th, 2012 12:19

    Brilliant news for Shetland! Congratulations!

  • Derick Tulloch

    • April 6th, 2012 12:48

    Good news for the silent majority who have not been shouting spurious objections, and good news for the North Isles particularly as it opens the door to tide and wave projects.

    The easy way for the Energy Minister would have been to just say no or to duck the decision and waste years and large sums on a public inquiry (that would only have enriched lawyers as usual). It is to his credit that he has made a clear decision.


Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.