Campaign group Sustainable Shetland has been given a £3,000 boost as its legal challenge over the Viking windfarm project draws nearer a conclusion.
The judicial review into the decision to grant planning permission without having a local public inquiry is expected to conclude at the Court of Session in Edinburgh next week.
One of the UK’s leading conservation charities, the John Muir Trust, has donated £3,000 to help cover Sustainable Shetland’s legal costs.
Permission for the 103-turbine windfarm was granted by the Scottish government in 2010. The group’s legal challenge got under way in January, but was adjourned to see whether the UK government wished to get involved. It resumed in early May but legal wrangling resulted in further delays.
Head of policy at the John Muir Trust Helen McDade said the donation was “in the spirit of solidarity with a besieged community, and in support for a just cause”.
“We are delighted to make this donation to Sustainable Shetland’s legal fund. The Trust joins with the group in demanding an inquiry where the claims of the developers can be rigorously tested.
“The development, of 103 turbines, each rising higher than the tallest buildings in Glasgow and Edinburgh, would be visible across most of the Shetland mainland.
“The site will stretch up to 11 miles long and seven miles wide, damaging and destroying precious natural habitats. It will require 65 miles of new roads, up to 10 metres wide, which will be bulldozed through peat and blanket bog, releasing vast quantities of carbon into the atmosphere – contributing to the very greenhouse gas emissions this scheme is supposed to be reducing.
“It will mean the construction of a number of new buildings of concrete and steel, and the excavation of a dozen quarries to provide materials.
“We are 100 per cent behind the legal action by Sustainable Shetland to prevent this ecological catastrophe which would severely impact on Shetland’s reputation as a wonderful natural heritage tourism destination.”
Sustainable Shetland’s judicial challenge centres around a claim that the Scottish government failed to comply with its obligations under the EU Birds Directive – in relation to the windfarm’s potential impact on the whimbrel, a migratory wading bird. The government insists it took the birds directive, and the other concerns of objectors, into consideration when making its decision.