Petitions noted but no further reports

Three petitions ended up being noted at a full council meeting on Wednesday morning despite amendments to the contrary.

Calls from councillor Cecil Smith for a report on the governance petition and from Moraig Lyall for a report based on the peatlands petition were both defeated.

A perceived lack of “open government” was the subject of the first petition presented on governance arrangements, which queried where power lies at the council.

The petition asked if councillors were being kept in the dark and claimed that disenfranchisement was occurring on a regular basis due to delegated authority.

Political leader Steven Coutts moved to note the motion, saying he had been elected on behalf of the community and was “perfectly comfortable in that role”.

Mr Coutts said he was also “perfectly comfortable” with councillors and officers’ respective roles.

“I certainly do not feel disenfranchised in any way,” added Mr Coutts.

Cecil Smith argued that as concerns had been raised by the community, to simply note the petition would be an “injustice” to officers and councillors, and was supported by Ms Lyall.

Convener Malcolm Bell told Ian Scott to turn off his mic following an increasingly heated debate.

Mr Scott said the issue had come up at a community council meeting in the last week, adding “something chimes with me”.

He went on to say that he had personally had issues with “information I have received from officers”, labelling it “far from satisfactory and far from complete”.

Other councillors, including George Smith and Davie Sandison said they had experienced no such problems with receiving information.

Councillors voted by 14 to 7 to note the governance petition, with one abstention.

A peatlands petition, which was signed by 23 residents, wanted the SIC to consider a motion to: “Cease immediately and in future to support any entity in the destruction of peatlands with regards to its value as a carbon sink”.

It also highlighted work taking place at Upper Kergord to build a converter station linked to the Viking Energy windfarm.

Councillors voted even more overwhelmingly by 18 to two, with two abstentions, to note this petition.

This was despite a proposed amendment from Ms Lyall, who sought a report on the impact of current and future projects on Shetland’s peatlands.

The last petition on Lerwick Power Station being replaced with a gas plant was noted without any suggestion of a report.

The petition claimed this option would provide “energy security and continuity of supply to the islands at a reasonable cost”, calling the proposed LGN Plant “a far more environmentally friendly option than the heavy diesel engines currently used by the Lerwick station”.


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