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Wind mast work to re-commence

WORK ON a third wind data mast in Shetland is commencing this afternoon (Monday) after the Shetland Islands Council’s planning department said the work would have “no unacceptable impacts on rare breeding bird species”.

The statement comes after confusion at the weekend as to whether windfarm developer Viking Energy had planning permission to erect three 70 metre masts during the bird breeding season.

Work on the third mast, at Scalla Field, near Kergord, was suspended on Sunday after around 10 members of Sustainable Shetland, turned out at Kergord to register their protest.

Quoting from the minutes of the council’s planning board meeting of 21 April, they said the department’s service manager, John Holden, had confirmed “no activity in the area during the bird breeding season”.

But Viking Energy said on Sunday that they had planning permission, including the required construction method statement, which entitled them to carry out the work as of 25 May.

This lunchtime (Monday), in an e-mail, Mr Holden said that the developer had indeed permission to carry out the work at this time as no “schedule 1 bird interests exist to be affected within acknowledged distances”.

He added: “The experts on both sides are satisfied that there will be no unacceptable impacts on rare breeding bird species interests, and therefore no public interest would be served in preventing the development proceeding on the basis of the evidence available.”

The e-mail was received at 1.25pm this afternoon, with the contractors reported to commence work at Kergord 10 minutes later.

Chairman of Sustainable Shetland, Billy Fox, said he was “absolutely furious”.

He said: “This is totally unacceptable. It is a complete u-turn on what was stated at the planning board meeting of 21 April.

“The planning board granted permission for the three masts on the condition that no work would be carried out during the bird breeding season.”