We have been betrayed (Laughton Johnson)

In response to James Mackenzie and Sustainable Shetland’s support of the UK government’s negative attitude to renewable onshore wind energy in the islands (last week’s Readers’ Views): yes, we’ve been betrayed!

Mr Mackenzie and Sustainable Shetland need reminding, yet again, that at the last poll of Shetland opinion on the proposed Viking Energy windfarm (“More now for the windfarm than against”: Shetland Times 10th December, 2010) there were 36 per cent for, 33 per cent against, and 31 per cent undecided. That poll indeed reflected the growing level of support as the enormous benefits to the community became clear.

In other words, despite being extremely well organised and well funded, Sustainable Shetland could only muster less than a third of Shetland against the windfarm.

In the present, and likely future, desperate economic situation for Shetland, Scotland and the UK as a whole, the opportunities for green energy and community benefit that the cable and Viking Energy windfarm would bring have become increasingly important, if not critical.

Then there are the proposed Yell projects and the huge potential for tidal energy in Yell Sound … and let’s not forget the Western Isles in all of this.

I have no doubt that if a poll was carried out today we would find even less support for Sustainable Shetland’s stance, while the proportion of Shetland supporting the cable, windfarm and other renewable energy projects would be substantially higher.

The loss of such opportunities would indeed be a betrayal.

Laughton Johnston
Muckle Bousta,


Add Your Comment
  • Steven Jarmson

    • November 23rd, 2016 16:15

    Opinion polls mean nothing.
    I wasn’t asked my opinion.
    Let’s have a referendum about the wind farm and save all the wind for the mills. (IF that’s what Shetlanders want?)
    Let’s double the edges of the sword.
    If the majority say “yes…”
    Areas who vote “yes,” get the windmills sighted in their area.
    Areas who vote “No,” don’t.
    I agree that planning issues aren’t the subject of referendums, but how many planning applications are so wide spread and potentially viewable for miles around?
    This isn’t a planning application, its a lifestyle decision for ALL of Shetland.

  • Frank Hay

    • November 23rd, 2016 16:59

    Perhaps Mr Johnson needs to be reminded of this.
    The Energy Consents Unit received 2772 individual objections and only 1109 letters of support for the Viking Energy wind farm. A Sustainable Shetland petition against the development gathered 3474 signatures and public consultation meetings in Brae, Aith, Dunrossness and Lerwick found on average that 75% of attendees opposed the project.
    Whatever the figures, it is true to say that feelings are running high on both sides and this has been much in evidence. In itself this is damaging to a small island community.
    Beyond numbers and statistics, there are very real concerns about the impact the massive project might have on the health, mental well being and daily lives of those who live near or within the proposed wind farm site, both during the construction phase, and throughout the 25 years when it may be operational. These concerns have never been properly addressed by Viking Energy.
    An inter-connector may encourage yet more inappropriate developments beyond Viking.

  • Stella Winks

    • November 23rd, 2016 21:06

    When was this non existent referendum? Oh, sorry it was just some ‘random’ poll….. Zzzzzz

  • John Tulloch

    • November 24th, 2016 8:30

    OfGem chief executive Dermot Nolan, has told the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee he is “deeply sceptical of (renewable energy) subsidies”, saying:

    “My own instincts suggest that the best way for that (end of subsidies) to happen is…. through competitive technologies against a relatively fixed carbon price, rather than technologies that race off to government and say ‘I need a subsidy’. […] I’m deeply sceptical of subsidies.”

    Mr Nolan is responsible for deciding whether subsidy of the VE grid interconnector should be permitted

  • Robert Wishart

    • November 24th, 2016 12:09

    Cherry picking is fun. There were significant majorities against the windfarm in the areas which will be most damaged by this awful prospect. The poll Mr Johnston refers to showed Skeld, Aith, Bixter and Tresta residents 45% against, 29 in favour. In Whiteness, Weisdale, Nesting etc 44% against and 31 in favour. Only two areas voted in favour; the North Isles and parts of Lerwick. Notably these are areas least affected. So while it is true to say that a majority of the Shetland population was marginally in favour it is also the case that majority in most areas were against. There is no evidence the figures would be much different today. Of course residents of the lovely secluded paradise of Little Bousta, like folk in Yell, Unst and Fetlar, will not be affected.

  • John Tulloch

    • November 25th, 2016 10:54

    Mr Johnson is right, Shetlanders are being “betrayed”, albeit, not in the way he suggests:

    The international gas price currently stands at $US3.15/mmBtu (million British thermal units) = £2.52/mmBtu

    Arithmetic permitting, this comes out at 0.86p/kWh

    Setting this against energy types currently and potentially available to Shetlanders:

    Gas from Sullom Gas Plant (at site terminals) = 0.86p/kWH
    Oil for heating = 6.5-7p/kWh (Argyll = 5p/kWh!!)
    Lerwick District Heating = 6.6p/kWh
    Off-peak electricity = 8.5p/kWh
    Viking Energy (at site terminals) = 11.5p/kWh
    Standard rate electricity = 15p/kWh

    Of course, gas cannot be delivered to homes at the international gas price, costs must be covered. However, a starting price of 0.86p/kWh must leave considerable scope for both fair profit and a massive reduction in Shetland’s fuel poverty.

  • Andrew Holt

    • November 26th, 2016 7:01

    You would have thought by now that “lessons had been learned” with regard to opinion polls. Wrong on the UK election, wrong on brexit, wrong on the Donald. To extrapolate from the figures a majority for the Windfarm could be seen as a trifle presumtuous. We do need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Perhaps we could start by dealing with our propensity as a species to waste huge amounts of energy before choosing to cover every hill with windmills.


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