Embarrassing (Jonathan Wills)

Well, this is embarrassing: Andrew Halcrow is right.

In the heat of the moment, responding to rapid-fire questions on Radio Shetland last Thursday night, I made a mistake.

What I should have said, but did not, is that although Viking Energy will have legal bills through being represented as an interested party at the judicial review in the Court of Session, because Viking Energy is not the target of the action, it doesn’t face the huge costs that the Scottish government or Sustainable Shetland might have if they were to lose.

But, as Andrew rightly points out, Sustainable Shetland has won an exemption so the taxpayers will meet its costs above a certain amount if the judge decides the wrong way (or the right way, depending on your point of view).

Anyway, I’m sorry if I made a misleading statement but I do assure Andrew it was not intentional. To err is human and to forgive divine. I hope he and his colleagues will forgive me.

I should perhaps explain that I was not on the “Public Platform” on behalf of Viking Energy, for which I cannot and do not speak. I was taking questions as a trustee of Shetland Charitable Trust, whose lawyers are keeping a watching brief on the case.

Any legal fees for the trust are, in my opinion, the fault of Sustainable Shetland for going to court in the first place. That cost is, however, negligible in relation to the potential costs of this “spoiler” legal action to the wider public purse, in the form of the Scottish government.

I’ve again been criticised for pointing out the obvious fact that the purpose in applying for a judicial review was to sabotage the wind farm. What else did Andrew have in mind? It’s also obvious that, if Sustainable Shetland succeeds, it may sabotage the Shetland community’s chance to earn millions of pounds for local charitable objects.

To satirise Sustainable Shetland by calling it “Sabotage Shetland” is therefore well within the bounds of robust debate, as routinely practised at Andrew Halcrow’s highly entertaining Althing sessions (where humourless zealots rarely win the vote).

Jonathan Wills





Add Your Comment
  • Christopher Ritch

    • May 21st, 2013 12:09

    Well done Jonathan, it’s easy to make mistakes but “I was wrong” must be the most difficult thing for any politician to say.

    To add my own satirical comment, the project could be renamed “Viagra Energy” (an expensive solution for nonviable erections…)

  • David Spence

    • May 21st, 2013 13:30

    Better watch Christopher, Jonathan may be thinking you are ‘ blowing hot air ‘ or ‘ putting the ‘ wind ‘ up him.’ lol One could say ‘ The relationship between VE and the CT was ‘ flaccid ‘ before any erection (of wind turbines) would have taken place lol

  • Johan Adamson

    • May 21st, 2013 14:32

    Good one Crick

    So it is SS who are responsible for costing the government and the CT so much in legal fees? I dont think so. It is the inability to reason and letting it go too far which is to blame. This was all avoidable with some dialogue and with the SIC not trying to bulldoze its way through the opposition instead of listening and talking (or holding a public enquiry). SS are just protecting the interests of its members, just like LPA did with the Bressay Bridge.

  • john Irvine

    • May 21st, 2013 22:09

    If Viking energy is such a good idea why are so many against it? it seems to me that the figures being quoted for profits are just plucked from the sky, anyone who has lived in Shetland for the last 2 decades will remember all the council fiasco`s. Someone remind me how many £millions the Norrona was going to be worth to the Shetland economy each year? then add all the other failed ventures, as the old saying goes “a fool and his money are soon parted”.

  • Jim Unsworth

    • May 21st, 2013 22:24

    This is the most sorry part of this debate. Johnothan has been inappropriate and inaccurate in his contributions. Sustainable Shetland are a group of people who are trying to make themselves heard. They have used their own money, not skimmed the cream from the Charitable Trust, to legally challenge a decision, made I believe in ignorance and greed, that has fundamental and far reaching consequences for these islands. The sham consultation showed that a lot of people (let’s not argue about the numbers) did not agree with the project. That, and the enormous size of the scheme, would have triggered a response from any reasonable council that would have required an independent review. Instead our ‘leaders’ chose to at once vilify and ignore their community. This decision has cost millions of pounds and a delay measured in years and it is their fault. An independant review would have taken a fraction of the time and, weighted for the developers, been stacked in Viking’s favour. Whilst I admire the skill required to bully this fantastical scheme thus far, I neither admire nor respect the people that have put the interests of the wind farm before the feelings and rights of the islanders all of whom have a legitimate right to speak. Please listen Johnathen.

  • David Spence

    • May 22nd, 2013 13:27

    I have calculated the previous Council(s) over the last few years, have lost over £16 million in poor decision making and sanctioning ill-fated projects or having to compensate due to lack of monitoring of processes involved in regards to legislation and bureaucracy.

    It really beggar’s belief how so many millions can go down the plughole and yet nobody has been made accountable.

    I notice somebody asking about the fiasco of the Smyrill line and the millions invested in this project. I believe, and correct me if I am wrong, the Council had a 19% sharehold in the company. Costing around £4.5 million. Well, since then the Council have spent over £1.5 million in legal costs suing the company for ‘ breach of contract ‘? The breach of contract, as before please correct me if I am wrong, being this companies arrogance of not wanting to 1) employ anybody from Shetland as crew on the boat 2) employ anybody from Shetland at the terminal at Holmsgarth (I believe, after objections, 2 people from Shetland were employed on a temporary basis) and 3) completely bypass Shetland entirely as part of its route(s) to and from the Faroes.

    I have to agree in the recent assessment of the Council’s expenditure that we are living well beyond our means, but if you take into consideration the failures the Council have done, I expect we could have been in a more buoyant position and the lesser need to make drastic cuts the Council is having to make now.


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