18th October 2018
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Windfarm campaigners welcome cost-capping ruling

Sustainable Shetland has secured a court order capping its legal costs ahead of a legal challenge against the Viking windfarm.

The group is seeking to have the Scottish government’s decision to grant consent for 103 large turbines in the isles overturned.
It has secured an order limiting its potential expenses ahead of its battle against the project.

Viking Energy’s windfarm has attracted objections following concerns over the possible impact on the landscape and on the whimbrel, a protected migratory wading bird.

The campaign group maintains that ministers acted unlawfully or unreasonably in not holding a public inquiry before giving the go-ahead for the project. They have raised proceedings for a judicial review of the Scottish ministers’ decision at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Making the judgement on Friday Lord Doherty said he considered it appropriate to make a protective expenses order limiting the group’s potential liability to £5,000 with a cap of £30,000 put on the ministers’ expenses.

Sir Crispin Agnew of Lochnaw QC, for the campaigners, said the major challenge was in relation to the impact of the development on the whimbrel which is protected under a birds directive.

“We are talking about a wind farm which is the equivalent of five normal wind farms,” he told the court.

In arguing for the protective costs order he said Sustainable Shetland had no interest except in protecting the public interest and added: “They have no economic interest in the outcome.”

In the action it is claimed Scottish ministers failed to give proper consideration to objections over the windfarm and all other material considerations in deciding not to have a public inquiry. It is also claimed they failed to give adequate reasons for not having one.

They are also said to have failed to take account of the impact of the development on the whimbrel and their duties under the birds directive.

It is also argued they could not reasonably have decided the relevant factual background to establish the scientific facts over the protection of the bird without an inquiry.

Campaigners say the decision letter over the Viking project failed to properly address landscape objections raised over the development.

The campaign group’s chairman, Andrew Halcrow, said: “Sustainable Shetland welcomes the decision of the Scottish Court of Session to grant a protective costs order to Sustainable Shetland in respect of the Judicial Review of the Scottish ministers’ decision to grant planning permission for the Viking Windfarm, with a cap on liability to Sustainable Shetland of £5,000 for ministers’ legal costs, and a reciprocal cap for their liability of £30,000 for our legal costs, and with no liability to Sustainable Shetland for Viking Energy Partnership’s legal costs.
“We have no further comment at this time.”

When approval for the Viking wind farm was given in April this year Energy Minister Fergus Ewing claimed it would “bring enormous benefits to the people of Shetland”.

The project, the third biggest in Scotland, was said to be capable of powering more than 175,000 homes.

About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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7 comments

  1. Eleanor Black

    Good news indeed! Lewis avoided large windfarm because Western Isles Council were totally opposed to it. Power to the people.

    Reply
  2. Sandy McMillan

    There is nothing positive for Shetland or the majority of Shetlanders, to have these wind farms, a few will benefit from the sale or rent of there property, why should Shetland be splattered in these wind turbines so that the Goverment get a feather in there cap for helping keep the air clean, the air in Shetland is most probably the cleanest air in the Country, simple fact is we dont what these wind farms, and we certainly dont need our air cleaned up, there has still not been enough investigating into what these whirrly gigs will cause to our health, the Landscape, wildlife, and also to the economy, I congratulate Sustainable Shetland for the guts to take on the might of this Country

    Reply
  3. Ron Stronach

    I really dont want to see huge windmills scattered across the entire length of Shetland, if I want to see windmill’s I’ll go to Holland.
    As Sandy McMillan said above, the majority of Shetlanders will not benefit, only a few.

    Good luck to Sustainable Shetland and their campaign.

    Reply
  4. Lee Davidson

    It would appear the Whimbrel is engaged in two fights, HMS Whimbrel, a Black Swan-class sloop, built in Glasgow in 1942 specifically to patrol the Atlantic sea lanes as part of Captain Johnny Walker’s group of ships that sank scores of U-boats. Is threatened with scrapping by the Egytian Navy! Patricia Knatchbull, 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma, Lord Mountbattens daughter, aged 88 is fighting to save it.

    Come on the Whimbrel, with your longish legs and a long bill that curves near the tip, fight !

    Reply
  5. Stella Winks

    Well done Sustainable Shetland – i am glad the point was made that this group’s motives were to protect and defend Shetland with no financial gain. A complete contrast to those I consider to be carpet-bagging vandals – Viking Energy.

    Reply
  6. ian tinkler

    “Viking Energy appoints new board!!.” With absolutely no chance at all of exporting power before 2020 and a very good chance of Viking Energy never exporting power (no interconnector, VE blocked by Judicial Review, Health concerns ECT.) Is it not just a few years early to squander “Charitable Trust” funds on appointing well paid directors to direct what may become no more than a pipe dream. I really despair sometimes at the mentality of our leaders.

    Reply
  7. ian tinkler

    Further to above. Now we will be using the new technologies of fracking to open up shale gas fields in England with the potential to supply gas equal to one third of all North Sea gas reserves, Viking Energy looks less credible by the day. With advances in carbon capture and tidal turbines wind energy is already looking like very dated technology. (http://www.express.co.uk/ourcomments/view/364592/Fracking-go-ahead-is-right)
    (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20723035)

    Reply

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