I hear Chris Bunyan wants to “sit around the table” with Sustainable Shetland.
I don’t believe his dream will become reality. Sustainable Shetland is in all likelihood the largest ever constituted community group in the history of the Shetland Islands and represents over 800 individuals.
Bunyan and his little band of fellow wind fundamentalists have yet to state who they represent, apart from Viking Energy.
Bunyan’s windfarm supporters group reminds me of those naïve individuals used as mouth pieces by various industries in the past to whitewash and lend credibility to controversial and environmentally damaging developments.
These individuals were paraded as “the voice of reason” and said to represent the so-called “silent majority, too frightened to speak out” in the face of justified and concerted opposition.
The Viking Energy windfarm has already done untold damage to Shetland. It has ridden roughshod over local democracy and left countless members of this community feeling disenfranchised and unheard.
That elusive pot of wind gold has led to years of blinkered decision-making by the SIC and Shetland Charitable Trust, such as the pathetic deal struck with Total and countless missed investment opportunities in the local economy.
It goes without saying that the £10 million spent on Viking Energy to date has led to deeper spending cuts than would otherwise have been necessary.
Shetland is one of the richest places in the UK and voluntary organisations such as Women of Worth and Shetland Bereavement Support Service had to close their doors due to lack of funding. The damage still to come is unimaginable.
We now have a court ruling that gives carte blanche to developers regardless of environmental damage caused in general and to protected and endangered species in particular.
This is a frightening prospect and there is little doubt that, if the 103 Viking Energy turbines are erected, they will be followed by many more (an additional 50 are already planned for Yell and Unst).
This is not about saving the environment, as Viking Energy and the wind fundamentalists would have us believe, but about greed and the prospect of riches for the few. It is going to bring about the wholesale destruction of Shetland’s environment and unique landscape.
An equally frightening prospect is that 70 of the 103 turbines are still less than the recommended 2km from dwellings, leaving the individuals and families occupying them highly vulnerable and in great uncertainty regarding their future quality of life, health, amenity, and property values.
Their concerns have been dismissed by Viking Energy and its supporters group. I can’t help wondering what this says to the world about us, the Shetland community?
Ghandi’s immortal words spring to mind: “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”