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Viking decisions to be investigated

THE COMMISSION for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland has confirmed that they have received a complaint against 14 members of Shetland Islands Council.

The unnamed complainer alleges that elected members contravened the code of conduct for councillors when participating in meetings at which the proposed Viking Energy wind farm was debated.

The complainer said that councillors had an irreconcilable conflict of interest, because as trustees of Shetland Charitable Trust, they had a 45 per cent shareholder in the £680 million project.

The complaint specifically refers to a hearing of Shetland Islands Council on 14 December last year at which councillors decided to back the wind farm proposal by nine votes to three.

All nine councillors recommending planning consent to the Scottish government have now been reported to the watchdog.

They are council convener Sandy Cluness, vice convener Josie Simpson, Gussie Angus, Laura Baisley, Jim Budge, Addie Doull, Betty Fullerton, Robert Henderson and Rick Nickerson.

The complaint also refers to council meeting on 2 February in which just nine councillors unanimously approved the Kergord converter station, an essential part of the wind farm’s infrastructure, after first declaring an interest in the matter.

The nine councillors Frank Robertson (the chair of the planning board) as well as Sandy Cluness, Josie Simpson, Laura Baisley, Jim Budge, Addie Doull, Betty Fullerton, Robert Henderson and Rick Nickerson.

Directors of Viking Energy Ltd, councillors Bill Manson, Alastair Cooper and Caroline Miller were also reported, as was councillor Allan Wishart, the company’s project co-ordinator.

A Standards Commission spokeswoman said: “I can confirm we have received a complaint against 14 members of the Shetland Island Council.

“The complaint relates to their participation in meetings at which the proposed Viking Energy Wind farm and Convertor station were considered.”

Anti-Viking Energy group Sustainable Shetland said they were not behind this latest complaint and are still in the process of preparing their own complaint against the nine councillors who “acted as developers” rather than planning authority.

The group’s chairman Kevin Learmonth said the delay was due to the time it took for the council to release the minutes of the December meeting.

Sustainable Shetland is also gathering evidence to prove that the alleged breach of conduct was “not an isolated behaviour”.

Council convener Sandy Cluness said he was aware that a complaint had been made but did not want to comment.

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