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It's very complimentary of Laughton Johnston to describe Sustainable Shetland as "extremely well organised and well funded" (Betrayal; SN, 24/11/16).

I'm not sure, however, where he gets the evidence for this; after all it is just a voluntary organisation, and its 800+ members and supporters have always responded generously to fund-raising activities.

I think its organisational and economic capabilities, however, pale into insignificance when compared to the might of the Viking Energy Partnership, which has one of the largest profit-making electricity suppliers in the UK, Scottish and Southern Energy, as a bedfellow, and has over £10 million of community funds committed to, or spent on, the Viking wind farm project, with a prospect of far more being invested should the project go ahead.

I'm not so sure either about Shetland's, Scotland's, and the UK's "desperate economic situation", compared to some other places in the world.

If you're unlucky enough to be excluded from what most of us take for granted, you may well be in despair (though I don't doubt that "austerity" is adversely affecting more and more people).

The solution however surely lies more in redistribution of wealth from the "have-lots" to the "have-nots", than in localised windfalls from wind farms – which will favour some at the expense of others.

The 2013 Baringa/TNEI report into island renewables, done for the UK government, had this to say:

"In theory there is the possibility that some of the generation [from Lerwick Power Station et al] could be displaced by greater volumes of renewable generation. However, since renewables are intermittent and asynchronous only limited volumes can be accommodated on island systems. Also additional reinforcement of distribution networks may be required. The resulting costs may not be justifiable as a transitional measure, but should further delays to transmission links occur then further analysis of these options may be considered. A further benefit would be the carbon savings associated with displacing highly emitting fossil fuel plant on the islands."

Since that report there have indisputably been and continue to be further delays to transmission links. While I accept that there will be limits to what can be accommodated in the local distribution network, the NINES project has already allowed more renewable generation to be connected.

It is high time these options were investigated further. The overall costs of the Viking and Beaw Field wind farms and other proposed industrial projects, and the interconnector(s) required, may well, in the long run, far outweigh those of reinforcement of the distribution network.

Small-scale truly community-owned carbon reduction schemes may better address fuel poverty and otherwise be of genuine benefit.

James Mackenzie
The Lea


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