CONSERVATION charity the John Muir Trust has joined calls for a public inquiry after Shetland Islands Council voted in favour of building one of Europe’s largest wind farms on the islands’ mainland.
The trust said that the size and scale of the Viking Energy development, with its 127 turbines reaching 145 metres high, alongside 104 kilometres of tracks, associated buildings and quarries, made it unsuitable for one of the wildest areas in the UK.
The trust’s head of policy Helen McDade said it was a democratic requirement that a full public inquiry was held after just nine of the council’s 22 members voted in favour of the £685 million project.
“This development has major impacts on the landscape and on birdlife that have been identified by a range of bodies, including Scottish Natural Heritage and the RSPB. The Council’s own planning department recommended rejection of the application,” she said.
“Moreover, the character of mainland Shetland will be so fundamentally changed that this will have major social and economic impacts on local people – affecting livelihoods dependent on tourism and affecting property prices.
“Construction traffic for years on the few roads in mainland Shetland will impact on businesses and people’s ability to move around for daily life.
“Given the split in public opinion over the development, with 2,300 objections to the revised plan and 900 letters of support going to the Energy Consents Unit, these issues must be properly investigated at a full independent Public Local Inquiry.”
Had the council objected to the development an inquiry would have been automatically triggered, however only four councillors voted in favour of an inquiry.
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