FEATURE: ‘We need windfarms’, new Viking community engagement manager says

Finding herself back in Shetland after a break of 40 years, Julie Graham ponders her new life as Viking Energy windfarm’s community engagement manager.

I fell in love with Shetland in the late 1970s and over the years have told people how I found living here. I would wax lyrical about the amazing scenery, the slower pace of life, the incredible wildlife and that the weather is always a topic for conversation – mainly that it has a mind all of its own, changing in the shortest period of time from sun to gales and horizontal rain.

You might think a windfarm in such a remote environment would receive minimal attention – a small population, swathes of peat land and lots of wind, ideal! However, there is little agreement when it comes to the windfarm and in truth there are significant differences of opinion, which I believe is to be expected.

As we all know “the only constant in life is change” and how we handle those changes and challenges will be different for each of us; but the challenge of providing a better future in the form of cleaner energy is one which affects us all.

It is hard to be unmoved by a project of this size but there is a balance to be found as Shetland shares responsibility for the UK’s carbon reduction promise.

Viking Energy’s community engagement manager, Julie Graham.

So how do you build a windfarm? Well it’s a complex process that requires the input of a huge number of specialists from start to finish.

Firstly, the location must have plenty of wind, which we all agree Shetland certainly has and where the turbines are positioned, they must make the most of it.

Then comes the logistics of accessing these locations. Access tracks need building for the safe delivery of components, ground conditions need investigating such as peat depths and rock types so that roadways can handle specialist delivery vehicles.

Then there’s getting the turbines to Shetland, yet another complicated task – from potentially difficult sea conditions to getting ships into Lerwick Harbour not to mention careful planning to get out of Lerwick to site.

All of this has taken years of planning and dedication from hundreds of people. Windfarms aren’t built because it’s easy, or on a whim; they’re built because we need them.

So, you may ask “Is it worth it?”. That will be something that’s up for discussion years after Viking is built and electricity is being produced.

We all have a responsibility to future generations to leave the place in better shape than we found it and that means reducing carbon emissions, fully embracing green energies and accepting that our landscape will need to look different to achieve that.

I have no doubt that climate change is a major challenge we face globally. Because of that it was an easy choice to actively play my part in working towards a more sustainable, effective solution for producing energy that will benefit not just Shetland but our planet.

The full feature appears in this week’s Shetland Times.


Add Your Comment
  • Alexander Kidd

    • February 14th, 2021 13:14

    New Viking Energy Community Engagement Officer, disapointing as she missed an ideal opportunity to engage with the community in her first pice in the paper. The report was an excellent place to start engagement, however just a slight acknoledgement, that their may be different views on the project. Most of the report was given up to a personal introduction, which was good and a section of PR blurb about the difficulties and obstacles relating to building a wind farm. You would have thought the new Community Engagement Officer would have waded right in and acknowledged the huge and growing concern the community had in relation to a massive and completely out of scale wind farm on a small island community. Then set about her intention and method she would be adopting to fully engage with the community. The statements that we need wind energy to save the planet, completely alienates a section of the community that believe wind energy is not the answer. Having alienated some of her community day one, it’s not a great start for such an important position for VE ans SSE. Own goal really.


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