Trust facing momentous decision on further Viking investment

The Shetland community’s stake in the Viking Energy windfarm could be diluted if Shetland Charitable Trust fails on Monday to agree its £6.3 million share to get the project ready to go.Trustees are being called to a special meeting to decide whether to continue investing or sell up their 45 per cent share now for an estimated £58.5 million.

But they have been warned that prevaricating over the extra funding will see the trust left behind because windfarm partners Scottish and Southern Energy and the four local businessmen in Viking Wind Ltd will cover the financial shortfall instead, acquiring a bigger share in the venture.

The apparent need for an instant decision on an issue of such importance means Monday’s meeting in Lerwick Town Hall could be one of the most momentous in recent Shetland history. There will be real pressure on trustees to resist agreeing the extra funds with scores of protesters expected to be there from the anti-Viking group Sustainable Shetland.

Following last week’s government approval of a 103-turbine windfarm, the trust’s financial controller Jeff Goddard has advised that the level of risk to the trust has “gone down significantly”. He is recommending the extra funds be agreed, on top of the £3.4 million the trust has already spent on Viking.

He advises that although selling up now would produce a profit of around 17 times the investment it would “potentially take away most of the ‘Shetland’ influence on the project”.

In his report Dr Goddard states: “The ‘Shetland’ participants on the Viking Energy project team argue that ‘Shetland’s’ investment has ensured that the project will be managed with ‘Shetland’s’ needs in mind.”

Even continuing to be involved for another 18-24 months, when the windfarm is expected to be ready to go, could bump up the value of the trust’s share to over £141 million, according to figures from analysts Quayle Munro.

Dr Goddard said reasons to continue to invest include its financial attractiveness and trustees’ desire that the Shetland community participate in the “environmental management aspects” of the windfarm.

He said: “A decision from trustees as to whether to further invest or sell is required at this point. The project will continue activity meantime and will require further finance. If trustees do not make a decision that finance will be provided by the other participants in the project and so the trust’s share (and value achieved) will be diluted.”


Add Your Comment
  • Barbara Gray

    • April 11th, 2012 20:42

    Does this sound like blackmail to anyone else because it does to me.

  • G Leask

    • April 11th, 2012 23:04

    So the gamble begins.
    The Grand National on Saturday will pale into insignificance compared to this one.
    However, with the prospect of several new jockeys in the saddle on the 3rd of May it’s time that the Charitable Trust reigned in the spending of our money and defer. Being the holder of the Trump card (no pun intended Donald) i.e. we the Shetland public own the land, it’s time to call a halt to this divisive nonsense and hold a referendum.

  • Sandy McMillan

    • April 11th, 2012 23:25

    The Shetland Charitable Trust is a charity set up to benefit the inhabitants of Shetland
    Your aim as Trustees is to provide public benefit to and improve the quality of life for the people of Shetland, not to destroy what is already there

    I am writing this in hope that the Trustees of the Shetland Charitable Trust, will think very hard before granting Viking Energy another £6.3 million of Shetlanders money, what has become of the £3.3 million, these are large sums of cash the SCT are giving out, the only feedback has been a wage bill of £190.000, per year for four employed by VE, this is not to bad a income for what, I have been speaking to quite a lot of Shetlanders, since the news broke concerning the Wind Farms, to say the least there is quite a lot of anger over the proposed £6.3 million being asked for, the companies Viking Energy and Viking Energy Limited, do not seem to be trying to get funding elsewhere, they are using the Shetland Charitable Trust as a very easy touch for funding. there are still many questions to be answered such as, has there has been any report on the human health issue, or the damage to the Shetland environment, the bird and wild life, the Tourism, or the Shetland Isles in general, if this project gets the green light Shetland will become a dumping ground for all sorts, the trustees must think of there home the Shetland Isles, and the feelings of the population

  • Alan Skinner

    • April 12th, 2012 0:28

    This appears to be total panic mongering by the pro-Viking group of trustees. They are trying to suggest that we will lose out on millions if we don’t invest more now. It reminds me of some of the more imaginative Nigerian schemes of the last decade.
    Let’s calm down. If these valuation figures are remotely accurate, we should be able to sell one third of our current holding for not far short of £20m. That is called “top-slicing” in investment circles. We would reduce our 45% stake to 30%, which is much more appropriate for a charitable trust, and we would prove to the residents of Shetland that Viking Energy is not a complete scam.
    There is a strong feeling, among the Shetlanders that I have spoken to, that Viking Energy is being steamrollered through, at an indecent speed, by a small faction of devotees. It would indeed be indecent if they voted a further investment at the eleventh hour of their inglorious reign.

    Alan Skinner
    Candidate for The North Isles

  • Jim Fraser

    • April 12th, 2012 8:04

    True to form from VE and their stooges within the council, an exceptional SCT meeting called at short notice followed by a threatening press statement. Surely a ‘ momentous ‘decision needs time to consider and should be considered by a Council/ Trustees who can lay claim to support from the electorate.

  • Allen Fraser

    • April 12th, 2012 10:17

    There should be no further consideration of investment in Viking Energy by Trustees until a detailed breakdown of how the £3.4 million already spent is published.

    There should be no further consideration of investment in Viking Energy by Trustees until a detailed breakdown is published of how the £6.3 million asked for will be spent.

    There should be no further consideration of investment in Viking Energy by Trustees until proper detailed costing of windfarm construction are published.

    There should be no further consideration of investment in Viking Energy by Trustees until details and costing of the so far imaginary “habitat management plan” is published.

    There should be no further consideration of investment in Viking Energy by Trustees until a properly detailed business plan for the project is published.

  • Wayne Conroy

    • April 12th, 2012 10:17

    I have to agree with Barbara Gray… This seems like blackmail!

    Or is it highway robbery?

    The SCT has already invested £3.4 million. What has this been spent on? Surely not all on studies and advise???

    According to the VE website “The development costs will be shared between the partners. The costs of developing the project – including expert reports on wildlife, birds and archaeology for the Environmental Impact Assessment – are likely to be around £4 million.”

    Assuming the other investors have put in equivalent amounts where has all this money been spent? £7 million is a lot of money to have nothing solid to show for it other than a few studies… never mind the fact it is already nearly double the proposed amount for development costs!

    Before they are asking for another £6.3 million does this mean they are also going to invest similar? What is this £13 million needed for exactly… Surely not more studies??? What is so urgent that this money is needed immediately – Does something need to be purchased for this project to go ahead?

    So many unanswered questions… Lets hope these questions are answered before any more money is invested!

  • Dave Hammond

    • April 12th, 2012 10:25

    Your article suggests that “scores of protesters (are) expected to be there from the anti-Viking group Sustainable Shetland”, when in actual fact no such call has been made. It is within the right of any concerned individual whether for or against the development to attend this meeting. What Geoff Goddard is proposing is a cash call on charitable funds at a time when deeps cuts are being proposed which affect the lives of ordinary Shetlanders. This will not be last of these calls, therefor e the Shetland public has an absolute right to know how their money has been/is being spent. SICT as partners should therefore call a meeting of the Viking Energy Partnership so that the other two partners can explain their positions to the Trustees, given that they are in a partnership with a publically accountable body. Surely such a course of action is written into the partnership agreement, if not why not? What kind of “Partnership” have we been signed up to?

  • S V Jolly

    • April 12th, 2012 12:36

    Why is only part of the valuation being quoted? OFGEM do not regard Shetland as ever been part of the National Grid. Without the interconnector, who will purchase the energy being produced? What are the Valuer’s figures without the Government subsidiary? Spain and The Netherlands have already withdrawn their subsidies to windfarms. Viking Energy Shetland LLP proposes to raise funds via a floating charge, with the assets being the project assets. I assume this means that as the project develops, the leasing rights of the land are one of the assets and the construction as it progresses. But without the interconnector (which has not been approved), how can the site be worth anything? Are they signing away the rights to build other structures on the land and to whom?

    There is the option to do nothing and to adjourn the meeting until after the election.

  • Billy Fox

    • April 12th, 2012 13:20

    I attended the (questionably quorate) meeting of the Shetland Charitable Trust in July of last year when the last £420,000 was asked for and granted.

    The same tactic was used by Jeff Goddard on that occasion. The Charitable Trust share would be diluted and taken up by Scottish & Southern Energy and the four individual shareholders if SCT did not continue to invest. One trustee did refer to having a gun held to their heads!

    This was an unacceptable level of pressure to put on trustees but disappointingly none of them pressed Mr Goddard to explain the level of detail in the agreement which could lead to such a dilution.

    This coming Monday trustees will again be put under pressure but the stakes are much higher, invest or sell appears to be the message.

    In my opinion this is deliberate scare-mongering, if the partnership agreement is so poorly drawn up to allow this to happen, then just what did the council sign us up to, the public have a right to know. Bear in mind this agreement was signed by the council. When ownership was transferred to the SCT, was the agreement revisited? Presumably the needs of a charitable trust would be very different to a local authority?

    The trustees need to realise that they own 90% of Viking Energy Ltd, it does not belong to Jeff Goddard, Bill Manson et al. Trustees have a direct responsibility to the trusts’ beneficiaries, the Shetland public.

    I would ask trustees on Monday to defer this request for a further £6.3m until detail has been given of where the previous £3.42m has been spent. We know none has gone on the promised Health Impact Assessment, but just how much was spent on PR ‘learning journeys’ south and on salaries?

    Deferring for a month or so to obtain this level of detail would not affect the SCT’s investment level, I would be confident in that, if it does the agreement is to be questioned and the public should be allowed to see it. If trustees defer I would also be confident they would have the backing of the majority of the Shetland public.

  • Kathy Greaves

    • April 12th, 2012 14:07

    We read that the ‘Shetland community’s stake in the Viking Energy windfarm could be diluted if Shetland Charitable Trust fails on Monday to agree its £6.3 million share to get the project ready to go’.

    It should be remembered that there is no actual windfarm yet. That it hopefully it will never happen.

    And …. ‘ Trustees are being called to a special meeting to decide whether to continue investing or sell up their 45 per cent share now for an estimated £58.5 million’.

    Which is amazing as there is nothing substantial to show for the estimated value of £58.5mil. Speculators are relying on the 100% certainty that the giant wind farm will go ahead in the hope that they could make shedfulls of profit out of it, which is why there is such a powerful drive forward now by those who would benefit financially.

    However I still believe that this is “just smoke and mirrors”, with huge figures bandied about; should we in Shetland have the opportunity to reject this awful project the shares will be valueless; the Trust has even more to lose by investing further £millions.

    Alarmingly, although we have had no say in the matter, no referendum to say what we want, we also read that; ‘ Even continuing to be involved for another 18-24 months, when the windfarm is expected to be ready to go……’ Expected (to go ahead) by whom? Quayle Munro knows more about this than Shetlanders do.

    And where is that original agreement? We’d all love to see it.


    Kathy Greaves

  • Frank Hay

    • April 12th, 2012 14:09

    I would urge trustees not to make a hasty ill-judged decision on this. In the light of Fergus Ewing’s ill judged approval of Viking Energy’s plans rather than calling for the expected public enquiry there is need for time to consider the next steps. There could still be the possibility of appeals against the decision so it is not quite a done deal yet.
    There also needs to be a detailed explanation of how the money will be spent before such a large sum is promised.

  • Alec Miller

    • April 12th, 2012 17:21

    The Trustees are being told that they are “on the Tiger’s back” and they can’t get off without being killed off – history has a long list of projects that foundered on this theory.

    I agree that a decision should be delayed until after the forthcoming election. This will give time for the new councillors to assess public opinion and obtain some of the detailed background information listed/outlined by other correspondents.

    Don’t be fooled by Bill Manson’s statement that a decision to proceed can be overturned by a future meeting of the Trust

  • Gordon Harmer

    • April 12th, 2012 21:19

    I am absolutely amazed at the amount of people in Shetland who are prepared to cut off their noses to spite their faces. Whatever you write here you all know, as I know, that the wind farm will be built. There is no stopping it, it will happen.

    Alex Salmond has decreed this, it is his dream and when the wind farm is operational and proves to be the most efficient wind farm in the world he is going to want to build more. Why should he not? I doubt if he knows that Shetland is not in a little box north of Scrabster so out of sight out of mind. He will want to litter these islands with highly profitable wind farms to fulfil his renewable energy pipe dream.

    Yet all I read in this column is “charitable trust give no money to Viking, charitable trust get out of involvement with the wind farm”. Shetland needs the trust or the council or both involved in this for local governance. In fact they need to be more involved and more in control of the whole thing. If they are not and they don’t set a president by being involved and in control it will open the gates for big multinationals to come here in the future and obliterate these islands by building wind farms with Salmond’s blessing.

    This Viking wind farm needs to go ahead for the good of Shetland and to boost the trusts coffers among other reasons. We have to set a president and must have control of the wind farm, something that we will lose if the trust gives up on the Viking investment.

    Words from Billy Fox; “Yes folks, we undoubtedly do get a raw deal from Westminster but in my view we would get a much worse one from Holyrood in an independent Scotland, the SNP are not to be trusted”.

    All the SNP know about Shetland is that their oil comes ashore here and their renewable energy pipe dreams will be fulfilled here and some of you want to realise their dreams for them.

    Years ago our council took control of oil development on these islands and we have all reaped the benefits. This needs to be replicated with wind farm development, our new council needs to take control and keep control and we will once again reap the benefits.

    So I ask the trustees of the charitable trust to take a leaf out of Edward Thomason’s and Ian Clark’s book and invest in our future.

  • John Tulloch

    • April 13th, 2012 8:19

    Doc Goddard’s Medicine Show.

    “Ladies and gentlemen, for one day only… now, or miss out!”

  • Sandy McMillan

    • April 14th, 2012 1:28

    This is the writing word of one of the Trustees of the Shetland Charitable Trust

    As a Trustee of Shetland Charitable Trust my obligations are to act in the interests of the Trust. The Trust itself is guided by its Trust Deed (its Bible), our activities regulated by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR).
    Its funds derived from SIC’s Reserve Fund and are substantially invested on the London Stock Market apart from the few local investments in the SLAP portfolio – mainly property(new SIC offices at North Ness, for example) and whitefish quota(transferred to Shetland Development Trust).
    The investment opportunity offered by the wind farm project has the potential the earn the Trust huge returns for the benefit of the whole community. It is the most lucrative local investment opportunity in the history of the Trust and I’m backing it on that grounds. Over the years I have protested at the Trust’s continuing investment in tobacco shares given that NHS Shetland advises us that, on average, a Shetlander dies each week from smoking related diseases. I believe the wind farm investment is a preferable community prospect on that basis alone.
    I believe the environmental concerns can be satisfactorily addressed by sensitive planning and attention to detail.

  • James Mackenzie

    • April 14th, 2012 23:40

    Dear Sandy,

    I probably shoudn’t admit this, because I should have stronger character, but the Viking Windfarm project is driving me to drink and drugs (tobacco, coffee) and to tears. Maybe this trustee should be aware that I’m probably not the only one.

  • Sandy McMillan

    • April 17th, 2012 14:40

    Dear James, the Trustee in question could not care less for the public purse, or for the public, how many deaths will the wind farms cause, we dont know, as Viking Energy have not carried out any of the test that they promised, the Shetland Charitable Trust Trustees, and the remaining Councillors should be pushing VE for answers, and not another penny given to VE even after the question have been answered, if VE get the go ahead you might as well drop a atomic bomb on Shetland, VE has to be stopped one way or the other.


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