Sustainable Shetland is launching a campaign to raise funds for legal costs in its battle against the Viking Energy windfarm.
The group wants to raise £20,000 over an eight-week period to help fund its challenge to the Scottish Ministers’ appeal against Lady Clark’s decision last year.
Scottish ministers gave the go-ahead for the construction of the 103-turbine Viking windfarm but Sustainable Shetland went to the Court of Session to successfully challenge the decision to grant consent for the £556 million project.
Lady Clark ruled the minsters’ decision should be set aside. During the hearing it emerged Viking Energy did not have a licence or an exemption in terms of electricity legislation.
The judge ruled that on a proper construction of the legislation only a licence holder or someone with an authorised exemption could make such an application.
Lady Clark said it was plain from the legislation that the licensing and exemption provisions were the means by which Parliament intended to regulate the industry.
She also held that a decision-maker in such cases was required to take account of the 2009 European Birds Directive and said: “In my opinion that should be the starting point for consideration of the facts by the decision-maker and there is no suggestion in this decision that was done.”
But with the appeal hearing being held next month, chairman of Sustainable Shetland Frank Hay, has called for further backing.
He said the group was “amazed and humbled” by the financial support received to fund the judicial review last year.
“Despite the fact that the hearing was extended from four days to 14, due to circumstances outside our control, we managed to pay for it in full through fund-raising and donation (and without major benefactor) – a total of nearly £100,000.
“This shows a great strength of feeling against the Viking Energy Windfarm among our members and indeed the wider Shetland community.
“However, the battle is not over and we estimate that we may need to raise as much as a further £40,000 to fund our challenge to the ministers’ appeal.
“For this reason, we believe it is time to cast our net wider. Windfarms are a national issue, and there are many throughout the UK who feel strongly that in some cases ‘big energy’ interests are damaging our environment rather than improving it.
“We hope that people around the country will show their support for our cause, which has nationwide implications regarding large scale windfarm developments and the protection of breeding bird species.”
Funds are being raised online through a website at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/sustainable-shetland and the group believes it may be the first Crowdfunder campaign in Shetland.