Put the past behind us, work together (Chris Bunyan)

Now the windfarm has been approved by the Scottish government we need to look realistically at where we are and our options. There has come a time when we accept the windfarm is going to happen and learn to live with and control commercial renewable energy developments in the islands.

The windfarm has government approval, so if the Shetland Charitable Trust pulls out and sells its share the windfarm will still go ahead – but without any direct Shetland control or influence over the development and with virtually all the profits going south. The trust might have a welcome £50-60 million from selling its share, but that pales into insignificance compared with the possible profits over 25 years.

The detailed planning of the windfarm starts now and it is vital that islanders consider how this can be influenced and try to ensure Shetland gets the best possible deal with the fewest problems during its planning, construction and operation.

Sustainable Shetland suggests trying to get the new council to renege on the turbine leases on the council-owned Busta Estate. Okay, but I suspect the compensation sought by the windfarm developers would make the Bressay brig fiasco look like pocket money. Also some council candidates are calling for a smaller windfarm, say 70 turbines for example, but this can only mislead electors as to the options any newly-elected councillors will have. The Scottish government has approved a windfarm of a maximum 457MW with up to 103 turbines and that decision isn’t going to change. Sorry to be so blunt, but that is the reality facing us today.

So where do we go now? The supporters group suggests we should begin looking closely at the detailed plans that will be gushing out of the Viking Energy offices over the next couple of years. Approval for the windfarm was the fairly easy part for the developers, believe it or not. They now have to work out and get regulatory approval for hundreds of different proposals, some small-scale, others of major importance. There could be many opportunities to influence the development and possibly overcome some of the worries people have expressed. Surely we need to put the past behind us and now work together to ensure the best outcome for Shetland.

The Scottish government has imposed dozens of conditions on the development covering everything from noise, peat, roads, water, archaeology etc etc. Like the minister, the Windfarm Supporters Group accepts that this is a big development, it is going to cause disruption during construction, and will obviously affect our environment. But like the minister we believe the benefits outweigh any harm and crucial to this is the Habitat Management Plan, which has been backed by the RSPB and Scottish Natural Heritage, despite their other objections. The RSPB, for example, said: “There are significant opportunities to deliver environmental enhancement across Shetland which will benefit wildlife and tourism. We look forward to working with the Viking developers to deliver this.”

Finally, there is no getting away from the financial and development opportunities the windfarm presents. While we await updated figures, there is no reason to believe previous estimates will have changed dramatically.

We are looking at something like £23 million a year for the charitable trust and several millions a year direct to the council for turbines on the Busta Estate. Think of the difference this money could make to the islands and our services, especially support for the most vulnerable. Then there will be income to crofters and landlords and the proposed community benefit scheme, totally separate from the SIC, which could see up to £2 million a year for local, community-based projects and developments.

All this will generate economic activity in the islands as well as the jobs for the windfarm. Developing renewable expertise here will also create new jobs. Finally there will be other renewable energy schemes, all of them helping to bring money and work into the islands.

Chris Bunyan 

On behalf of the Windfarm Supporters Group.


Add Your Comment
  • Paula goddard

    • April 17th, 2012 22:10

    At last a voice with sense to it ! To sustain Shetland we need to think positivly and look forward.We will now be able to consider other renewable possibilitys,like Hydro and wave power . Yes some people will be cross at their view being spolit or even more seriously any noise pollution but these things will be taken into acccount and working with ,rather than against VE will be more beneficial to the antis . Thanks for the voice of reason Chris Bunyon

  • Michael Garriock

    • April 18th, 2012 2:06

    Never mind the distractions, its all about money, it always is. If the bottom line wasn’t looking good, VE would never have seen the light of day. The problem here is, its all Monopoly money. To (mis?)quote Donald Rumsfeld, “there are the known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns”, and that’s all the public have been told. Either folk trust that the SIC & SCT and their number crunchers have got it right, or they don’t…..

    Me, I’d rather trust that guy that was going around in a battered old transit with crates of unlabelled bottles, that assured me just a sip of that snake oil stuff they contained would cure all my aches and pains permanently….

    *If* a windfarm really is such a lucrative investment for such a period, why, of why, oh why did the SIC/SCT have to yet one more time take the “Rolls Royce” choice, when there were and are so many other ways that this could have been done that involved NO investment, and NO risk to community funds, and still have provided a healthy return to the community over the period.

    Why risk your shirt on an all or nothing deal, when you could and possibly still can have a respectable return and risk absolutely nothing.

  • Robert Wishart

    • April 18th, 2012 9:31

    Hi Paula, any relation to Jeff Goddard, Financial Controller of the charitable trust?

    Hardly the voice of reason; merely the view of a handful of supporters. Chris Bunyan’s longwinded contribution (he should contact Ian Selby!) is based on the assumption that the windfarm is the best “outcome for Shetland”; a claim which can only be justified if you don’t mind destroying the place in contradiction to the stated aims of the trust.

  • ian tinkler

    • April 18th, 2012 9:34

    Chris Bunyan must be a little concerned to write so much. Firstly, before Viking Energy can proceed, we may have a judicial review, then perhaps a formal public enquiry, then with a following wind and a bit of luck Viking Energy may be forced release their suppressed Health Impact Assessment. That will probably finish VE for good, if not, any potential investor in VE must understand, every resident within 2K of a turbine may well take legal action on many grounds. Loss of value of property, health damage, noise nuisence etc, and the legal precedent has been already set. I know a man who has a £10 million fighting fund against wind farms, watch out VE, this could cost a great deal. We could also have an appeal processes to The Supreme Court or European Court if health issues are still being ignored by Viking Energy. Also there is the small matter of ROC being cut again and the reluctance of SSE to invest due to uncertainty of the position in the Independence issue. To quote Chris “There has come a time when we accept the wind farm is going to happen” that time has no come, not yet, not by a long way.

  • Paula goddard

    • April 18th, 2012 10:35

    no I am not a relative nor have I met Jeff Goddard . Is your enqury relative?

  • Chris Bunyan

    • April 18th, 2012 12:21

    I see Ian Tinkler wants to involve Donald Trump in the anti-Viking campaign. Please do Ian. Call him immediately, I’ll get his number if you want. Nothing could help the windfarm more !

    As for Robert’s comments, I did refer to Ian Selbie in my letter, but the staff at his venerable organ decide to delete it. He also misquotes me from the letter he is commenting on. I said we should try to “work together to ensure the best outcome for Shetland.” Not quite what he claims I wrote. Incidently my thanks for his affectionate comment a while ago referring to me as the ‘windmill-hugger-in-chief’

  • Adam Brown

    • April 18th, 2012 12:52

    I take it that if we are all in this together, the Windfarm Supporters Group will be helping out those of us whose houses are sufficiently close to the turbines to be devalued due to noise, shadow flicker, etc.

    Let’s not pretend these won’t be issues, and let’s not pretend house prices won’t be affected. Will you be putting your hands in your pockets to ensure we aren’t tens of thousands of pounds poorer?

  • ian tinkler

    • April 18th, 2012 13:03

    Please send Mr. Trump’s number, Chris. I will make it public so any individual can contact and lobby Trump if they wish. No need for me to contact Trump at this time. Incidentally I act absolutely independent of Sustainable Shetland, I made my views public before that organization was founded. I do however share their views. I will wait for Viking Energy to complete their Health Impact Assessment, as so publically promised by Allan Wishart. Surely he was not being untruthful when he promised that? I wonder why it has taken so long to finish that assessment. Should be fun to read, if VE ever dare make it public. It will probably sink VE without trace.

  • Robert Wishart

    • April 18th, 2012 13:08

    Paula, not relevant at all, just curiosity of the “… so he/she comes to be …” variety. Can’t believe that after all these years I can’t spell Selbie! Sorry Ian, shouldn’t post contributions in a hurry.

  • James Mackenzie

    • April 18th, 2012 13:45

    I’d rather see Chris Bunyan respond to Robina Barton’s letter than indulge in a silly slinging match with Ian Tinkler and Robert Wishart.

  • Kathy Greaves

    • April 18th, 2012 15:13

    Supporters of the Viking Energy giant wind farm such as Chris Bunyan appear to be happy to have this monstrosity imposed upon us, and for us to have no say in the matter whatsoever.

    Some even compare its proposed 100+ structures, each reaching 145 metres high – with blades extended – set over many hundreds of acres of our mainland, to the Sullom Voe Terminal; hardly a reasonable comparison.

    It is a pity that VE supporters do not have more vision, that they cannot see that this ‘crown of thorns’ set upon our hills will blight our landscape, will be seen for many miles away, and that these turbines, or more likely the debris from their rusting remains, will be left rotting where they fall, for ever more.

    Kathy Greaves

  • Gordon Harmer

    • April 18th, 2012 16:19

    James Mackenzie surely you mean silly slanging match or is slinging the elitist way of saying it.
    If you want answers to Robina Barton’s letter you will find them on the Viking web site, apart from the questions asked of the Scottish government who are a law unto themselves.
    Kathy Greaves it is the wind farm supporters who surely have vision as they can see the future benefits of the wind farm both as a power source and as a provider of funds for the slowly depleting charitable trust fund. Viking have a web site which covers the decommissioning of the turbines, but I am sure you are aware of that so why choose the old rhetoric to make a poor case.

  • Evelyn Morrison

    • April 18th, 2012 20:00

    How dare Ms Goddard have the audacity to comment that people are ‘cross at their view being spoilt’.
    This is yet another example of the glaring ignorance still within Shetland about the full implications of this grotesque project.

    Evelyn Morrison

  • roberta clubb

    • April 19th, 2012 9:27

    Evelyn, It is not always ignorance, as you know, regarding “views of the Turbines “as a main issue being emphasised by the supporters .

    It can be policy to repeat the mantras ! Why else would some people still think that our precious peatlands are the only issue and that the inhabited communities are not equally important. The P.R. exercise we paid for on behalf of V .E. obviously thought that was a good angle .

  • S V Jolly

    • April 19th, 2012 12:18

    The windfarm supporters need a reality check. OFGEM have not said that Shetland will be part of the National Grid; indeed, this issue was dodged by VE’s representative on Radio Shetland last night.

    SCT currently gets approximately £10 million a year from its assets and other shareholdings. Its Fund Managers, Schroeders, are currently ranked at 8/10. If the windfarm goes ahead, the SCT portfolio will be diminished as the intention was to sell off part of the portfolio to fund the project. Therefore, if VE did, in fact, manage to have revenue at £20 million per annum, how much of the existing £10 million would be lost? Surely it would have been better to look at changing Fund Managers?

  • Clive Munro

    • April 19th, 2012 14:09

    Chris, you seem to have a wealth of information at your fingertips re. the windfarm so, given that we’re all in this together, perhaps you could let us know how many of the Windfarm Supporters Group actually live within 2km of any of these proposed turbines. Come to think of it, let me just broaden that a bit and ask whether any supporters of this scheme whatever, be they members of that group, Councillors/Charitable Trustees, directors/employees of Viking Energy or just regular, vociferous contributors to these pages will be living in the shadows of these behemoths. I hope there are quite a few otherwise I’ll have to conclude that many people’s motives for supporting this project are even shoddier than I had previously imagined.

  • Ian Hornby

    • April 19th, 2012 17:20

    If this scheme goes ahead I’ll be faced (literally) with 180deg view of the windfarm from the front of my house in Voe and 90deg at the back.
    The council can value my house now and have it, I’ll even give them a 10% discount and I’ll build somewhere else.
    Nothing good will come of this farm, the construction costs will be significantly higher than expected given Shetlands challenging environment, government renewable subsidies that are the only reason windfarms are viable are falling and will continue to fall as they focus on turning round the mother of all debt mountains and incentivising offshore renewables, any contruction will be met with peacefull protest that will grind work & shetland to halt, the power grid cable if laid will never be able to standup to the harsh conditions.
    It’s a fools folly to risk everything on this venture. Cut your cloth and stop blowing millions on projects that require subsidies when complete.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • April 19th, 2012 19:44

    What a poor argument Clive how about I put the same argument to you and ask how many wind farm protesters actually live within two kilometers of a proposed turbine.
    If qualification to voice ones opinion on the wind farm is that you have to live within two kilometers of one then by your own claims there are a lot more people on your side of the fence who should be less vociferous.
    You are entitled to you opinion and so are the supporters, vociferous or otherwise.
    Differences between the two sides are crystal clear you guys want to stop something that is unstoppable to your own cost and determent and that of every one living on these isles.
    Supporters on the other hand want it to go ahead with changes to protect people living within two kilometers of them, to ensure the wind farm does not creep across the whole of Shetland. Most importantly we want the charitable trust to continue with its involvement to ensure its financial future and that of all Shetlander’s, nothing shoddy about that.

  • Michael Garriock

    • April 19th, 2012 23:25

    Quote: Gordon Harmer.

    “Most importantly we want the charitable trust to continue with its involvement to ensure its financial future and that of all Shetlander’s(sic), nothing shoddy about that.”

    How easily folk can be blinded by £££ signs to see only what they want to see.

    The more we come to find out about how this whole sorry dealis put together and set up, the more unbelievable it becomes that it will be any more profitable to the SCT/SIC than David Clark, the Bressay Bridge, the Malakoff floating dock, Judane and numerous other similar fiascos, and will be as long running and going nowhere sorry saga as the new AHS, Symbister pier, tunnels to god knows nowhere etc. ….

  • Clive Munro

    • April 20th, 2012 8:02

    Gordon, maybe I didn’t express myself too well yesterday so let me ask you some questions and see where that gets us. Do you seriously dispute that opposition to the windfarm is stronger in the areas which will be most affected and that support for it is stronger in those areas which will be relatively unaffected? And, if that is the case, isn’t it sad that many Shetlanders, purely for their own financial security, consider that the anxiety and discomfort this project will cause others in their community is an acceptable price to pay? Also,given that the whole process so far has been a well documented affront to democracy, isn,t it a bit disingenuous of the windfarm’s supporters to express bemusement at the uproar the Government’s decision has caused? Finally Gordon, since you take such pride in your vocabulary that you felt obliged to ridicule James MacKenzie for a simple spelling mistake, can you tell me what “determent” means? I couldn’t find it in my dictionary.

  • Gordon Harmer

    • April 20th, 2012 14:28

    Clive “determent” means I have fat fingers and the e and the r are next to each other. I took the mickey out of James because in his letter he insinuated ( in my opinion ) Chris was lowering himself by having a slanging match with Ian. This forum is for every one to make a point and I cant stand elitism.
    Clive I fully understand and empathize with anyone who lives in the shadow of one or more turbine especially if they are opposed to the sight of them or they prove to cause a noise or other problem. I also believe they have the right to make their voices heard but I also believe that the council or charitable trust need to be involved with their share of this wind farm to ensure some local governance.
    If SSE go ahead alone which is a distinct possibility their accountability is to their shareholders not the Shetland community. I think with the new council, the charitable trust and supporters and objectors working together as one, the offending turbines could be moved to another site. A site where they affect no one goodness knows there is enough space in Shetland instead of having a cluster where they are. If everyone’s energy was put into making the wind farm bearable to every one or as near as possible instead of a faction trying to stop the unstoppable we will succeed.
    Clive our generation have benefited greatly from the oil money from Sullom Voe I am old enough to remember what we had and didn’t have before that and I don’t want to go back to that for my children and grand children.
    Plus the Gremista power station is far from green or economical and as the heavy oil it runs on becomes more scarce and more and more expensive we need to look elsewhere for our electricity.

  • Robert Sim

    • April 20th, 2012 23:15

    Gordon Harmer’s answer (above) to the issue of wind turbines causing an aesthetic and health problem is to say that “I think with the new council, the charitable trust and supporters and objectors working together as one, the offending turbines could be moved to another site. A site where they affect no one goodness knows there is enough space in Shetland instead of having a cluster where they are.” Gordon is obviously trying to alleviate the concerns of folk like Evelyn Morrison and Ian Hornby who are faced with living in close proximity to the turbines. Unfortunately, his explanation doesn’t seem to me to bear any relationship to what happens in the real, harsh world of commerce and industry. That’s why we are where we are with this project – folk haven’t noticed that they are playing with the big boys…

  • Gordon Harmer

    • April 21st, 2012 6:58

    Oh and Clive I would get a new dictionary if I were you, no ridicule intended.
    Noun 1. determent – a communication that makes you afraid to try something

  • Kathy Greaves

    • April 21st, 2012 9:42

    VE supporters make much of the ‘lots of jobs’ which will result from this project. Is this the same ‘lots of jobs for Shetlanders’ much spoken about when shares were bought in the Smyril Line?

    It soon became apparent that there were no jobs for Shetlanders, no Shetland produce bought as food and other consumables were sourced elsewhere, and pretty soon the Noronna stopped calling in at Lerwick. And they still have our £4.7mil.

    So can we all see the small print before any more commitment is made, please.

    Kathy Greaves

  • Clive Munro

    • April 21st, 2012 10:48

    Gordon, I’ll admit that from day one I was instinctively against the windfarm on the grounds that, like many others, I felt it was just too big for Shetland and would have a hugely negative impact on the character of the place. Nevertheless, believe it or not, I was initially willing to listen to all the arguments, for and against, but nothing I heard absolutely convinced me that there were guaranteed sound environmental and/or economic benefits to be gained from building it. Certainly nothing worth the upheaval it was likely to cause. And, over time, my instinctive opposition has been hardened by the cavalier manner in which it has been allowed to evolve from an environmentally friendly project which would only go ahead with the approval of the community into the biggest, most risky and most costly industrial project we’re ever likely to be involved in. Not only that but it is now coming regardless of how the community feels about it. On that subject why, oh why, wasn’t there a referendum? Virtually everyone I’ve spoken to would have accepted the result of one, whichever way it went, and most of the animosity which has built up would simply have dissipated out of respect for the democratic process.
    And now, to add insult to injury, some well-meaning windfarm supporters are attempting to mend fences by suggesting that the worst excesses of this project can somehow be reined in. That the turbines which are closest to people’s homes, and breach the government’s own recommendations, can simply be moved somewhere less troublesome. Well I’m afraid I don’t think that’s likely to happen. As I understand it, from talking to people who should know, the consent that has been given is for a specific number of turbines in specific locations. They can’t simply be shifted, at least not by more than a few yards here and there.
    All I can say is that, if the windfarm does get built, I sincerely hope the money it raises is spent wisely. Thankfully it won’t be the current trustees who’ll be spending it.


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