I have been following the development of Viking Energy since it first started but unlike many of its fervent supporters and detractors have been unable to come to a clear decision as to whether or not it will ultimately be to the benefit of Shetland.
I agree wholeheartedly that Shetland needs all the employment it can get and also requires dependable, balanced, ethical sources of income if we are all to continue to enjoy anywhere near the standard of living to which most of us have become accustomed over the last 20-30 years.
My reluctance to accept that Viking is the answer to these problems is based on the very many unanswered questions surrounding the project, all of which have been well aired elsewhere. I have two principal concerns. Firstly, how can anyone have confidence that the present subsidy to onshore wind generation will continue at its present level? The subsidy to solar generation has recently been cut dramatically and it appears that there will be a need to increase the subsidy to offshore wind, tide and wave generation. Any reduction in subsidy to onshore wind will come straight off the profits projected by Viking. Secondly, how much more of Shetland’s funds will be ploughed into this before there is a guarantee that the interconnector will be provided?
My reason for voicing these concerns now is the announcement that another attempt is to be made on Monday to discuss the investment of a further £6.3m in the wind farm – three days before up to 19 of the present trustees could cease to hold their positions. Chairman Bill Manson is quoted in your article as stating that the trustees “feel the decision is such an important one it needs to be discussed”. Unquestionably the decision is an important one, perhaps one of the most important many of these trustees will make, but surely it could have been delayed until after the election and the subsequent appointment of trustees who have a mandate both to make that decision and to take any further action which follows from the decision? It appears that the other partners in Viking are not putting pressure on for a decision to be made, so why the need to proceed with this 11th hour attempt to release funds from the trust? Finally, I think the electorate deserve to know which trustees requisitioned this meeting.