Urquhart: Viking decision is great news

Independent Highlands and Islands MSP Jean Urquhart has welcomed the “great news” that progress can be made on the Viking Energy windfarm.

After a three-year legal battle, the Supreme Court yesterday ruled that Scottish Government ministers acted lawfully in granting planning permission for the 103-turbine development.

Ms Urquhart said the windfarm will create 140 jobs in the construction phase and around 35 permanent jobs in operation.

“It’s great news that the Viking project is now able to go ahead. Scotland has the potential to be a world leader in clean energy, and ambitious developments like this will help us get there.

“Shetland is especially well-suited for wind energy; in fact the developers hope Viking will become the most productive onshore wind farm in the world.”
Referring to Shetland Charitable Trust’s 45 per cent stake in the project she said: “I’m particularly pleased that

Viking will be part-owned by a community charitable trust – ideally, all energy projects should have a community stake. Our renewables revolution should be about more than just replacing big oil corporations with big windfarm corporations.

“It is essential now that the Shetland Islands Council makes plans to allow for more local and community involvement in further developments. This decision should provide real opportunities for communities and not open the flood gates to wholly owned commercial companies.

“From energy to land reform, creative use of the new Community Empowerment Bill could see even greater benefits to some of the most vulnerable parts of Shetland.”


Add Your Comment
  • Suzy Jolly

    • February 10th, 2015 17:28

    Yet another politician out of touch with their constituents.

    • Jimmy Nicolson

      • February 11th, 2015 1:26


    • Hugh Jamieson

      • February 11th, 2015 7:57

      Who says? A colleague of mine did a straw poll in our office (about 80% of them live outside Lerwick) 17 were in favour with 4 against. It was these 4 who were the most vociferous in their argument against and argued for ages until they gave up. Believe me most people I speak to are in favour, but say or write nothing.
      The people who write on here who are anti-wind farm generally work as dentists, oil workers with BP and other high paid occupations. They are intent on depriving our next generation jobs as the oil legacy runs out.

      • Suzy Jolly

        • February 11th, 2015 15:41

        People haven’t been given all the information concerning this project though, have they? Therefore, how can they consent to it without being presented with all the facts?

        I’m self-employed. I certainly don’t fall into the categories you mentioned above.

      • Michael Garriock

        • February 11th, 2015 15:41

        “The people who write on here who are anti-wind farm generally work as dentists, oil workers with BP and other high paid occupations. They are intent on depriving our next generation jobs as the oil legacy runs out.”

        I think you’ll find most who write here aren’t necessarily anti windfarm, rather they’re anti Viking Energy windfarm. While I won’t presume to know how much anybody is paid, I can only presume that I am the exception that proves your rule of sweeping generalisation, as I’ve rarely been paid as much as minimum wage all my life.

        What jobs would that be then? Last figures I saw bandied about was that VE would employ around an estimated 35 staff once operational – hardly a figure with much potential to make or break the Shetland economy I would have thought. That’s if the whole sorry scheme hasn’t gone bankrupt long before the first watt is ever produced.

        Construction is planned to employ 100+, many of whom will be imported specialists, and work is estimated to be complete by 2020 or so I am given to understand – the next generation are going to have to grow up pretty damn quick to gain any benefit from that.

        Shetland could do an excellent job employing its next generation if we held exclusive fishing rights to all our own waters to 200 miles/median, instead of meekly handing the vast majority of them away to faceless Eurocrats to distribute willy nilly from the Kattegat to the Med, for which we get nothing in return.

      • Wayne Conroy

        • February 11th, 2015 19:09

        You’re right Hugh… We’re intent on depriving people of jobs.

        It has nothing whatsoever to do with saving the tourism industry in Shetland, the magnificent views, the environment, stopping possible negative health benefits or the fact that this whole push for windmills is just a ridiculous expensive “looks good on paper” exercise that not only will have absolutely no positive impact on our carbon output as a country but will have a negative impact once you take into account the removal of peat, the cubic tonnage of concrete and the transporting of all these windmills. Of course we are already paying for this through our bills and we can look forward to paying more for this privilege what with the elevated cost of the electricity once it’s produced.

        Anyway, back to my highly paid executive job…

      • laurence paton

        • February 12th, 2015 4:20

        I am in full agreement with Michael Garriock’s comment , we already have a well proven renewable
        industry that can maintain full employment for the community.
        Opposition to a Mega Wind farm stems from rational well thought out reasons from concerned
        members of the community.
        No doubt you have heard all those rational arguments against this and other wind farms
        before but try and find an answer to this fundamental question.
        How much less fossil fuels are presently being consumed thanks to wind power generation ?
        And you can give an answer at either a Shetland , National or International level.
        Would your office of 21 be an SIC department by any chance ?

  • Peter Long

    • February 10th, 2015 20:06

    That is very sad news. Wind turbines are an enormous visual distraction because the eye is instinctively drawn toward movement and their effect is unsettling.

  • iantinkler

    • February 10th, 2015 21:07

    How very sad, the destruction of the beautiful Shetland land and sea scape to provide the dream of a Nationalist Scotland with the most costly electric power in Europe. We just are beginning to see the Nationalist agenda and long term plan for Shetland. God help us all, any other secret agendas apart from a few fat cat lairds making a fortune at the expense of us all. Fuel poverty here we come. No wonder the Nats hate clean cheap power such as fracking, wake up Slanderers , just look what is happening to you.

    • Carl Pickard

      • February 13th, 2015 13:34

      Shock horror, the Tinklerman is pro-fracking.

      You could scarcely make this up.

  • Jimmy Nicolson

    • February 11th, 2015 1:46

    I could argue about the many negative effects this will bring, not just now but for years to come, however I doubt that would make any difference now, that doesn’t mean we have to accept it with open arms. The decision on Monday was disappointing if not unexpected, but the councillors should never have allowed it to get to this stage against the wishes of the majority, they are supposed to represent the people who vote them in, this has not happened in this case. I believe Shetland is well located to take advantage of the largest industry in the world, oil, which despite what some believe has a relatively long life ahead, focus should have been on getting a better deal out of that than the backward step which is the viking windfarm.

  • Johan Adamson

    • February 11th, 2015 8:56

    I feel sick at the thought of this 103 turbines and more to follow. I dont want to live on a giant windfarm and I know more who feel the same. Get your house valued now so you can claim the decrease in value from Viking. You might as well get some of the ensuing gold rush too. Bye bye Shetland as we know it, a sacrificial lamb to the slaughter.

    • Evelyn Morrison

      • February 11th, 2015 11:44

      Where can you get an independent valuation in Shetland?

  • Allen Fraser

    • February 11th, 2015 10:14

    So Jean (I came third in the election) Urquhart knows what is best for Shetland and offers advice to the SIC.

    So Jean (I no longer represent the party that made me a list MSP) Urquhart can vote against the interests of the Shetland in Holyrood.

    So Jean (I have no credibility) Urquhart thinks that a windfarm of 103 turbines, each nearly twice the size of a jumbo jet, along with 50 square miles of concrete, roads and super-quarries can be built in just 4 years by 140 construction workers.

    So Jean (I don’t live in Shetland) Urquhart wants to see the further industrialisation of Shetland’s landscape and expresses no concern for the health and wellbeing of those living within the windfarm footprint.

    • Martin Tregonning

      • February 15th, 2015 20:32

      I have never known the one person to have some many middle names before 🙂

  • Robin Barclay

    • February 11th, 2015 14:34

    She would say that, wouldn’t she – after all it is SNP policy, and there was no chance that the SNP government would challenge the planning consent granted by the then SIC councilors (remember who they were) contrary to the advice of their own professional planning department who had the relevant expertise to come to a considered recommendation. At least if the SIC had followed planning recommendations and withheld consent that decision would have to have been appealed at government level, and if overturned the SNP government could have been blamed directly. Unfortunately if this goes ahead there is little to ensure that the development will be confined to Viking Energy’s plan, and windfarms will proliferate over the rest of the mainland, and other islands if they can be connected, when other opportunistic developers try to cash in. Under what conditions can they be stopped once precedent has been established?
    Could somebody lay out what the likely income stream to the Shetland community will be from this Charitable Trust venture in Viking Energy, where it will accrue and how it will be spent? The SIC has had to disengage from the Charitable Trust, so surely it will be the (unelected) trustees who will decide. Once built, the windfarm is unlikely to be a major employer. However can we be assured that the ongoing costs such as maintaining all the new access roads and infrastructure, repairs to damage caused by these such as run-off, erosion, etc will be met by them and not passed on to SIC, and will a realistic decommissioning deposit be lodged to “restore” the environment (“some hope” that that day will ever come – these windmills will probably be replaced for generations rather than removed). Further, has anyone calculated the potential loss of income to the community with the loss Shetland’s unspoilt image, and set that against the potential financial (it can be on no other grounds) gain?
    The fishing industry is by far the largest component of the Shetland economy, probably followed as ever by a reviving wool industry, and tourism (with a high wildlife/environmental component), so oil is not at the top of the list despite all the publicity it gets. The income to SIC and/or the Charitable Trust probably has a different balance, which will influence councilors and trustees, but I note that even before falling oil prices it was mooted that the Sullom Voe harbor and services should be sold off (to avoid falling profits and increased costs in the longer term). It is opportunity, environment, culture, amenities and image that probably matters most to Shetlanders. Where do windfarms fit in relative importance in this, and do folk have enough information to come to a considered rather than emotive decision? Given the lack even of clear facts, never mind a referendum to follow consideration of these facts, it is no wonder that many folk feel they are being railroaded. There will be little sympathy from the SNP government since they have nothing to fear electorally since Shetland is a Liberal fiefdom. There was never much hope that a few whimbrels would stop this juggernaut, once the former SIC councilors threw away the opportunity to have this examined in a public inquiry by granting planning consent. For those who oppose the windfarm development(s) the only hope might be to stir up public antipathy at a wider level (the public is not that rational at what it takes against if the herd can be steered in the desired direction), or realistically threaten some form of secession, or both. It is probably obvious where my sympathies are – but I don’t feel I have all the information I need to take a balanced view. However it would take a lot to convince me that Shetland should throw away what it has for an unspecified purported financial gain – but what price do you put on image, environment and heritage, and for those living within a windfarm (and don’t think it might not be you, soon) your home and surroundings which may have come to you recently or have been part of your family for generations. Never mind the quality, feel the width.

    • Johan Adamson

      • February 12th, 2015 9:02

      Excellent comment Robin

      Fundamentals of economics – scarce resources – land, labour, capital. This project will use all our land and all our capital, and we dont have any spare labour. It is too risky and may have a good income stream, but as a return on investment? Very low I should think. And construction costs are 3 times higher than on the mainland, at least – transport everything – sand, cement, cranes, trucks, workers, experts, windmills – we will be importing everything. All these construction workers will need accommodation, also in short supply, all will come out of the construction budget. Add in the carpet baggers and like the trams we will be over budget 3 months in. 2020? – dream on.

  • Frank Hay

    • February 12th, 2015 10:00

    At least Jean Urquhart has been open and honest where she stands unlike our MP and MSP, even if she has failed to appreciate just how unsuitable a project this could be for Shetland.
    Alistair Carmichael was instrumental with Ed Davey in getting the Supreme Court hearing expedited. Strangely he hasn’t claimed any credit for this so far. Perhaps with the upcoming election he realises this is a potential vote loser.

    • James Howitt

      • February 16th, 2015 9:48

      Any expedition of the court case is in the interests of all parties is it not? The result is therefore known sooner rather than later.

      • John Tulloch

        • February 16th, 2015 12:44

        You’ve got me there, James?

        Why was the result being known sooner, rather than later, to the benefit of SuS and other opponents of the VE wind farm?

        I imagined opponents might have preferred the result not to have become known until after the election, once the Liberals are out of office and that unutterable clown Ed Davey is out of D.E.C.C.. and that the Scottish government’s intervention in the timing of the hearing was not intended to be for anyone’s advantage, bar their own?

  • Vivienne Rendall

    • February 12th, 2015 10:02

    As I’ve put on another thread on this topic I’m not against windfarms in principal, I just can’t understand why a windfarm can’t be built simply to supply Shetland’s needs, then there’d be no need of the connector, they could use many fewer and possibly smaller turbines which would not destroy so much of Shetland’s landscape, Shetlanders would get cheaper electricity-a winning situation all round. But no-one would get rich on this idea, no doubt that’s why, though more acceptable, it has no chance of being accepted.

    • John Tulloch

      • February 12th, 2015 11:47

      Because it’s an isolated network, Vivienne, not connected to the National Grid, control of the frequency and voltage of the ac supply has to be maintained within very narrow statutory limits. That is essential because if those are allowed to vary, it can cause mayhem – literally – with appliances e.g. Tvs, electronics and motors, lights dimming and especially, in factories, machinery stopping.

      The frequency, in particular, cannot be controlled by depending on something which varies constantly, like the wind – you need fossil fuel generators or, if you have plenty of money, hydro generators, which can deliver constant power that can be varied on demand (“despatchable power”) to maintain the stability of the grid.

      The Shetland network already has about as much wind generation on it as it can comfortably deal with, without introducing instability risk to the power supply.

      That is not to say that small, localised, wind generators could not supply loads like storage heaters or reduce boiler fuel costs by using them independently of the local “grid” network.

      Then they could save electricity and/or fuelmcosts, directly, at the price consumers pay and would save utility network costs by reducing the need for extensions and upgrades.

      So, like you, I’m not against wind generators per se. There is a time and a place in which they are appropriate. The problem with the VE development is it’s inapprpriate for the time and place – far too big.

    • John Tulloch

      • February 12th, 2015 11:50


      Your suggestion could be achieved, of course, with the installation of a smaller cable than the one proposed, however, it would still be very expensive to install and you’d have additional distribution grid costs, too, so large subsidy would be required.

  • David Spence

    • February 12th, 2015 11:41

    I hope this gets through? lol

    It is another classic example, if VEP gets up and going, where greed, money and profits are the priority regardless to the damage this scheme will cause to the Shetland Landscape, Bankrupting the Charitable Trust, a private business enterprise sucking the money out of Shetland with a very little return for the community, providing very few jobs…………but hey, why should we get in the way of those people thinking more about themselves than this of the islands and the community.

    The snowballing affect of having wind farms dotted all over the islands has already begun with the new, fantastic, brilliant idea of having one in Yell and Unst (no doubt, like the VEP, to benefit the few at the cost of the majority)……next it will be Fetlar, Whalsay and every other location going on these islands.

    As said though, why should we get in the way of the few wanting to make the quick buck, but at a greater cost to the islands and the communities of these islands.

    Short term thinking, and screw the long term consequences are the rules of this game.

    • Robin Barclay

      • February 13th, 2015 1:49

      Do we know who will benefit, through land rent or purchase, or compensation? A register of those would be interesting. Are any beneficiaries councillors or former councillors, or trustees? Should they declare any such interest. I cannot understand why so many are convinced that this speculative venture will be beneficial – on the basis of what evidence?

      • Steven Jarmson

        • February 15th, 2015 11:20

        There is a list.
        But can we access it?
        I would doubt there would any councillors or CT trustees on it, even in Shetland these people wouldn’t be dumb enough to benefit from this semi dubious venture without declaring an interest.
        I’m much like alot if people in here, neither for or against this project, I agree in principal, we need to cut fossil fuel consumption.
        Would it not make more sense to give a grant to every person who wants a renewable connected to their house instead of giving a massive grant to a multi -million pound company? Then we can benefit from our charitable tryst money.

  • iantinkler

    • February 13th, 2015 12:05

    Robin, I had the pleasure (joke) of being invited by Ratter and SSE to the first ever open discussion about VE, many years ago. I had that privilege as I am a registered Crofter (Flawton) with the VE project on part of the hill right. I, as a Crofter was offered about £1000 per annum (rent). The same sum to every other Crofter on that hill right. I understand that every penny paid to the crofters would be matched with a similar compounded payment to the Lairds. The usual balance being the Crofters would receive £1000 for the loss of hill grazing, the lairds would be played £10,000 to £20,000 plus per annum for sweet FA. Nice one for a few wealthy lairds, a small bribe to try and appease the Crofter. They call it rent, it basically means , a huge payment to the landowners, a few crumbs to the Crofter. All that money is raised by a hike in our electricity bills! Exactly what Ratter was paid was not disclosed, maybe he organized this project as an act of charity and goodwill for hard up Lairds!

    • Robin Barclay

      • February 13th, 2015 13:49

      Thanks for that, Ian – it is what I suspected and starts to shed some light on why some are such enthusiastic promoters of VE’s proposal, some being councillors, trustees, or both. Morally they should exclude themselves from any decision making involving public funds if they stand to benefit personally, and the public should demand that of them. To quote a current description, some might interpret their actions as “dubious”.

    • Michael Garriock

      • February 13th, 2015 19:03

      So basically what you’re saying is that among others, the SIC, whom I am led to believe are owners of the Busta Estate (which I am also led to believe will host part of the VE site), will be handed multiple thousands of SCT money annually to do with as they please. Given the nature of what both the SIC and SCT are (or are at least supposed to be), I would suggest that there are both ethical and moral arguments for the SIC to either waive their right to such payments, or undertake to refund them in full as and when made.

      How many Laird’s Estates does VE’s proposal encroach on to, and who are they?

    • Robin Barclay

      • February 15th, 2015 8:00

      Can you shed some further light on this, Ian.
      Did those of you with hill rights arrive at a majority decision to “rent” land to VE, or how was that arrived at? Had it been opposed, what would have happened? We’re you threatened with compulsory purchase, if so by whom? What role did lairds have in that process? Is it a promise, or has the rental payment started? Will you still be able to run sheep around the wind turbines (if not the vegetation will change if not grazed)? Are the rules different for crofter tenants and croft owners?
      Personally I think you’d be daft not to take the money, or hand it back (maybe give it to a charity but not SCT) even if you opposed, but best if it never had happened. Could it have been blocked by the land users?

  • Martin Jamieson

    • February 13th, 2015 14:15

    Please, please dear folks, refere to these huge unsightly things as, Wind Turbines and not as windmills you would see in Old Amsterdam. I should like to point out Shetland is NOT going to be handed huge profits from this venture, it is our old foes down Westminster way who are now rubbing their greasy hands gleefully !!

    • Steven Jarmson

      • February 15th, 2015 14:26

      The taxman will receive additional tax, the national grid will receive a small increase in power, but Westminster will ultimately pay for the inter-connector.
      And why is Westminster, our national government, the “old foes?”

      • Michael Garriock

        • February 15th, 2015 16:39

        No, Steven Jarmson, *if* the interconnector comes, we’ll all pay for it, one way or another. Westminster never paid for one damn thing in their existence, they only demand with menaces off the population adequate cash to spend wherever they see fit.

        And *if* it comes, what will we get back in return for its cost? Perhaps our power from the national grid, which no doubt the electricity distributor will find some “excuse” such as “cable loss” on account of the distance it has to travel, to load the unit cost to consumers or introduce a specific surcharge. We’ll be no better off than we are right now.

    • James Howitt

      • February 16th, 2015 9:43

      Eh? How are Westminster rubbing their hands? They don’t profit as the implicit subsidy for Scottish renewables, especially wind comes mostly from the English electricity bill payer.

      All the SoS agrees is a strike price.

    • roberta clubb

      • February 16th, 2015 17:08

      Remember when really huge turbines even morphed into “windylights ” no less ?
      That Glossy magazine which was given, supposedly free, to every household during the early wooing stage between the ” community behind closed doors” and “the Community.” ( Cunning use of the word “community ” was also circulated free gratis .)
      There was a signatory of the “Agreement chez Busta ” who was heard to say recently that they had not expected / or” lippened” maybe was their choice of word , so much opposition to the proposal. I wondered why as the announcement did not exactly slip in under the radar.
      Also I agree with Willie Binns perspective and suggestions.

  • Brenda Herrick

    • February 13th, 2015 21:13

    Another disgraceful example of money being all that matters to the SNP. They care nothing for the countryside, its people or its wildlife. Windfarms will not make a scrap of difference to the climate. Developers would not even consider building windfarms without the enormous subsidies taken from our pockets without our consent. Sadly in Scotland justice is for the rich who can afford to appeal over and over again going up the Courts while those who oppose them have to scrape together what they can.

  • Bill Palmer

    • February 14th, 2015 0:51

    My wife and I have only visited Shetland once, so feel free to criticize, as no we are not local, but we found our time there marvelllous, and regularly check the Lerwick web cams, and puffin cams in the summer, dreaming of coming back some day. Why marvellous? Because we come from a part of Canada where we look out on 54 wind turbines from our home, and probably more before long. Shetland was, well different, and natural, things that our home no longer is.

    Will Shetland be on our short list of places to return to when the turbines are up, and are visible from most of “Mainland?” Well, why would it be? We can look at turbines here, and listen to the sound they create any time. Sorry, Shetland, you’ve had your heritage taken out from under you. Will it bring you economic glory? Not likely, as the 35 jobs created may not be as many as the tourism jobs lost as folks like us stop coming, and no doubt most of the material payments (to eventually be borne by your electricity consumers) will flow out of Scotland.

    I wish I could say something to make you feel better, but it’s hard to think of anything. Yes, it’s progress, and a few will make money, and you will be drawn further into the modern world. Worse luck, sorry, as our experience is that others will lose. You will have to judge the balance on your own.

    • Johan Adamson

      • February 16th, 2015 9:17

      Yes, I think if you move away from here you realise that unspoilt land is in short supply elsewhere, its all being eradicated, so we should keep ours.

  • Angela Hunt

    • February 15th, 2015 19:01

    Ian Tinkler’s information on payment deals in Shetland for land access make it sound as if the Shetland crofters have been sold short on their land deals for windfarm development (Feb 13 12.05). One imagines they have settled for just £1,000 per year as this began as a community owned windfarm. In the South the industry norm is for generous option deals where pay out begins long before development. I have met people with land in Wales who have been paid for years, simply for an option on their land, which has not even gone near planning permission; and the development company has sent them a hamper at Christmas every year.
    There are already talks of this community project being sold on to private developers. Shetland crofters need to get a clause written in to their agreement now, which, with a change of developer, revokes the agreement, and allows them to renegotiate rent and access payments; surely in a multi-million pound development such as this, Ian, his fellow crofters, and landlords could command 40 or 50 times these land rents?

  • David Spence

    • February 15th, 2015 22:09

    When people think and act like capitalists, then whatever feeble attempts they try to do to resolve the issue of pollution of the environment, the destruction of natural habitat, the slaughter and killing of wildlife and allegedly saving the environment but destroying it by other methods are doomed to fail, and the consequences of their selfish greed for money, profits and the equally greed orientated shareholders will only make things very much worse for life (all life……..more important than human life) on this planet.

    Humans do not know how to co-exist with life on this planet, they only know how to take and destroy. This is the mentality of your average capitalist.

    A human made concept of money only does damage and not create for the greater good of life.

  • James Howitt

    • February 16th, 2015 9:39

    Three things to bear in mind:

    1. The ECJ may hear the case directly. But that will take years.
    2. The developers have 1 month to agree a strike price with DECC before HMG goes into purdah for the GE. The next Secretary of State may not be so keen to subsidise wind power.
    3. It is still dependent on an interconnector. See 2 above.

  • Ali Inkster

    • February 16th, 2015 11:44

    Has anybody considered a community land buyout as is the norm in Scotland? If the folk living in the development area buy the estates of the lairds and the council they can then refuse permission for the windfarm on their land. There are grants available to do just this, and the SSnp seem to be very keen for this to happen elsewhere. Or maybe the powers that be will look at the result of the poll and realize the opposition to this scheme is overwhelming and give it up.

    • Robin Barclay

      • February 17th, 2015 1:45

      I had wondered about community land buyout – but I wouldn’t say it is the norm (it just works when a landlord/laird is willing to sell, pressured or not, he is not obliged to by law), and I haven’t heard of it happening in Shetland. What is more common there is the tenant crofter exercising his right to buy the croft he has the tenancy of. I suspect that most crofters (tenant or owner) would resent the whole community buying out the landlord – since that would just replace the laird with the community as landlord, and the tenant would still have the right to buy his croft, and the crofter-owner would still own his croft (couldn’t be bought by the community). Land is a strange thing, folk identify with it, miss it, protect it, fall out over it, can be over generations, but are not good at sharing it – so I suspect they’d rather deal with the laird, a system that at least they are used to, than any novel “community” – whoever they are. Probably would be seen by them as a committee of self-appointed busybodies and/or, worse still, “incomers”. Bad enough folk have the right to wander all over it. See – I can get quite worked up if I wear that hat, and can sympathize so much with those who feel the amenity/character of their land will be threatened if this is being imposed against their will – it will be worse for them than the general community, and that’s bad enough. On the other hand there will be those crofters who are happy to take the money – an easier income than working sheep in the hill – although Angela Hunt’s reply above suggests they are getting /will get a quite modest payment (and maybe a poor deal on their long-term rights) compared to similar settlements elsewhere. Or have they? We don’t know who is getting paid, who is paying, or how much, since it’s all a commercial secret.
      If the community did buy out the landlord (but not the crofter) then the community could block any deal, or would get the landlord’s share of any rent from any deal – but the landlord would not be obliged to sell (I think) and is hardly likely to if he is now going to get some income that hasn’t come to the estate since his great, great grandfather sent the crofters to catch and cure fish for him. I’m no expert on crofting law, so will probably stand corrected (and better informed) on this.
      Can anyone tell me, when a croft is bought under right-to-buy what happens to the hill rights? I presume the hill-rights in the scattald (common grazing) are part of that croft and remain so. I remember folk could get them apportioned and fence them off as part of the croft. So – surely the landlord/laird would no longer own those (apportioned or unapportioned) if a croft had been bought. In the case of any rental paid by VE (or any other “carpetbaggers and scallawags” that try in the future to rent any other common hill grazings to put more windmills on) should not that proportion of rent which the landlord might have got go to the crofter-owner, as well as his “crofter” payment. Does it not follow that all crofters should exercise their right to buy and get full payment, the landlord’s as well as theirs. I know someone will tell me that won’t work. It sounds as if some crofters may have come off worse than deals in other places – it was ever so. However it is the crofters, not the whole community, who can oppose or benefit from anything relating to land use as far as I can see – and I don’t see where anybody thinks the community in general will benefit unless the company makes some discretionary payment which it is not obliged to do. The only general “community” benefit that can come in this case is through any income SCT can make as a shareholder in VE – and that might take a while, if ever. Meantime I guess it has to honour its contract commitments and will be paying out quite a lot.

      (PS: Shetland Times your spell checker is American not British English)

    • James Howitt

      • February 17th, 2015 8:39

      Owners of land cannot “refuse permission” if land is zoned for development, or earmarked for change of use by a statutory authority.

      Besides community buy outs aren’t a panacea either (see several examples in Western Scotland which are about to go back to the government with a begging bowl). Owning land is an expensive pastime. Oscar Wilde summed it up perfectly.

      • Robin Barclay

        • February 17th, 2015 12:49

        Even if it is zoned for development, surely that does not change the ownership and, unless under compulsory purchase, any developer would still have to buy, rent or come to some other mutually acceptable agreement with the owner(s). I understand from Ian’s comment that this may be a rental agreement.

  • Willie Binns

    • February 16th, 2015 13:37

    I do not think that people realise the size of these turbines and the visual impact the proposed development will have on long term tourism. This is a unique environment and the landmass is far too small for the number of machines. Bear in mind that the farthest that you can get from the sea is only 3 miles! We were promised that if the people did not want the project then it would not go ahead. The reality, somewhat different, turns out to be that we did not get the answer that we wanted so we will just ignore public opinion! Remember the 3 meetings held throughout the island and the ratio for and against. Do you think that the project will be built to cost with the resultant profit to Shetland of £20- £30 million annually. Just think of the Scottish Parliament Building and Edinburgh Tram Project. Any additional cost of borrowing for Shetlands share of the development costs would greatly impact on the estimated return/profit to this community. SIC are landowners and could have closed down this folly by not allowing this monstrosity to be built on their land. It would be interesting to see a list of those likely to profit directly from owning land. Name them and shame them I say!

    • Brian Smith

      • February 16th, 2015 17:06

      This is quite wrong, Willie. The turbines will not be visible from Lerwick and Bressay.


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