Energy strategy comes out against large onshore windfarms

The SIC’s new energy strategy has come out against largescale onshore windfarms.

A draft version of the strategy has been published today (Monday) with members of the public invited to have their say.

The 165-page document covers issues such as energy generation, infrastructure and use, along with considering the potential socioeconomic change. 

It says energy transition offers a “huge opportunity” to deliver benefits to everyone in the community, as well as the wider economy.

While the economic potential of new energy developments has been a key focus of the SIC and its Orion project, the environmental and landscape issues have made it a divisive topic.

A key concern has been the impact of large windfarms, namely Viking Energy, leading to opposition from campaign groups Save Shetland and Sustainable Shetland.

They have been critical of the council’s role in permitting such developments.

According to the new strategy, however, the council’s advised policy position is “oppose further development of larger scale site”.

Instead, the council will favour supporting “continued generation on existing and consented sites”.

Any onshore windfarms granted against the council’s advice will be expected to adhere to the “energy development principles” – a set of requirement for developers to follow, including the provision of community benefit, such as the Shetland Tariff.

Offshore wind has been another divisive issue, particularly with the fishing industry, which has highlighting concerns about developments encroaching on important fishing grounds.

The council has highlighted the three developments already consented for the NE1 site to the east of Shetland, representing a total of 2.8GW, as well as the interest in further sites.

It noted the scale up of offshore wind will happen “rapidly” and with shorter timelines than anticipated even a couple of years ago.

The stragey also acknowledges that offshore wind will impact marine biodiversity and other users of the sea. 

However, it said the council had little control of the waters beyond 12 miles or projects over 50MW, as these decisions are approved by the Marine and Energy and Climate Change directorates at the Scottish government.

The SIC’s leader Emma Macdonald said: “With so many renewable energy projects either underway or being planned here in Shetland, it is important that we stand back and consider where energy transition will lead us and what our community can do to shape that future.

 “The vital requirement for Shetland people to achieve the fair electricity prices we deserve is a particular focus at this time and is embedded in the strategy. 

“Energy transition means massive change for all of us, so it is essential for the community to engage in the process. 

“We need a Shetland approach which recognises our legitimate interests and concerns.”

 Energy users, generators, suppliers, and anyone with an interest in the energy system are encouraged to respond to the public consultation.

The consultation can be found on the council’s website.

The deadline for responses is 8th March, 2024.


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