Crofters hear about £4 million of payments for hosting Viking windfarm

Crofters have been turning out to meetings with Viking Energy this week to hear about payments of around £4 million a year they could benefit from when the windfarm is built.

Over 340 crofters are expected to get annual payments which will vary depending on whether the land is actually used to site turbines or forms part of a wider area of the hill to be looked after under the company’s elaborate habitat management plan.

Around 180 of the crofters are expected to earn the big payments for hosting turbines on their common grazings.

If Viking decides to install higher-capacity 4.5 megawatt turbines a payout is being offered for each turbine at £5,500 a year plus an as-yet-undisclosed percentage of the gross revenue earned by the 103-turbine windfarm.

Opting for the smaller 3.6MW turbines would see an annual payment of £4,125 each plus the share of revenue.

Another 160 with crofting rights in the wider area of the habitat management plan would receive an annual fee of £10 per hectare. Crofting activities will be mainly unaffected by the habitat work but Viking said some crofters may be asked to make slight adjustments to their working practices.

Hosting a construction compound on croft land while the windfarm is built would attract £2,500 a year.

The suggested fees still have to be put before the Scottish Land Court later this year as part of a so-called scheme for development. The application to the land court ensures crofters’ interests are safeguarded and reasonable compensation payments are made.

The proposed fees were discussed with crofters at briefing sessions this week in halls in Walls, North Nesting and Voe with Bixter tonight and a final one in South Nesting on Friday.

The exhibitions have also provided information about the construction of the windfarm, which has been the subject of some anxiety due to anticipated disruption.

Invitations to the events were issued to all the crofters involved, where they are known, and to all the clerks of the relevant grazings committees.

Viking said that at this stage there could still be some crofters whose entitlement to payments is not known about.

When the windfarm was approved in April, permitting up to 457MW of generation, part of the conditions of consent was the habitat management plan. It is intended to minimise the effects of the windfarm on birds such as whimbrel, merlin and red-throated divers.

It will also help address peat erosion which is already a serious problem in parts of Shetland, including the hilltops of the central mainland.

Crofters have been told this week that they could be involved in a range of measures including crow control and wetting up small areas of land to benefit nesting birds.

Figures for how the landowners will benefit have not been disclosed but previously Viking has said they would earn the same amount, around £4m a year, split between the council-owned Busta Estate and a number of private estates and small landowners. Prior to the windfarm being downsized these included the estates of Vementry, Zetland, Burrastow, Symbister and Sumburgh.


Add Your Comment
  • James Mackenzie

    • June 15th, 2012 1:23

    I was present at the “consultation” presentation given by Viking Energy’s consultants (which the Shetland public are paying for) at Bixter Hall this evening, and frankly I was appalled.

    First, the subject of lethal (Hooded) Crow control. In spite of Viking Energy’s Addendum admitting that “ a better understanding of whimbrel ecology is necessary in order to develop and implement site-specific management prescriptions”, we were informed that Crow control measures will go ahead, even outwith the Habitat Management Plan (HMP) areas – ostensibly to discourage Whimbrels to breed within the windfarm area. Quite why similar measures within the windfarm area are also going to go ahead, presumably to encourage breeding, was not explained.

    These measures will require the consent of Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), according to the Scottish Ministers’ consent. I was told that if SNH did not agree to them, based on new data provided by environmental consultants, then the windfarm would not go ahead. So in that case the HMP, and crow control measures, will not go ahead – in spite of us being informed on posters that they will.

    Secondly, Viking Energy also intends to “restore” blanket bog by blocking large eroded gullies – which is probably a recipe for disaster, given the propensity for sudden flash floods; and by enlarging lochans to encourage Red Throated Diver breeding, which implies unspecified machinery interference with the habitat.

    Thirdly, crofting law now includes “energy generation” as a reasonable purpose for development schemes on common grazings, without specifying the scale of it, whereas other reasonable purposes are such as building a kirk, a community hall, or a peat hill track, or other similar small scale developments.

    According to this law, the “crofting community” only includes crofters who have common grazing rights on affected land – not other members of the community who live in the area and (among others) have rights of access to that land for recreational or other purposes.

    This is a recipe for even more division in the Shetland community than has been demonstrated already – especially, as I understand, that a mere 350 crofters stand to share £4 million per year in compensation.

    But as one crofter in the affected area said to me after the event: “They can take their money and stuff it up their backsides.”

    Thank God for people like that.

  • Johan Adamson

    • June 15th, 2012 13:10

    Yes, thank god for people like that.

  • Sandy McMillan

    • June 18th, 2012 21:18

    We can only but hope that the Crofters will see sence and not fall into the trap of these Al Capone mafia tack ticks, to kill of all the wild life and worst of all the Community.
    Sandy McMillan

  • Bert Morrison

    • June 19th, 2012 10:28

    Oh dear Sandy, ‘kill off all the wild life’ and ‘the community’. Good Melodrama if a little implausable. If the crofters in the area make a bit extra from the windfarm, good on them.

  • Peter Williamson

    • June 20th, 2012 12:40

    Here here!


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