THE appointment of Fergus Ewing as the new Scottish energy minister has been welcomed by wind farm developer Viking Energy as well as the project’s opponents from Sustainable Shetland.
On Friday, the MSP for Inverness East and Nairn and former community safety minster was given the energy, enterprise and tourism brief in first minister Alex Salmond’s new ministerial team,
One of the first tasks Mr Ewing will face in his new role is to make a decision on the planning application for the 457 megawatt Viking Energy wind farm.
One of the statutory consultees, Scottish Natural Heritage, objected to the development on environmental grounds, however Shetland Islands Council has recommended approval to Scottish Ministers.
Mr Ewing could either approve or refuse consent for the £680 million project. Alternatively, he could call a public local inquiry (PLI).
Viking Energy’s project co-ordinator, councillor Allan Wishart said that given the SNP’s emphasis on renewable energy he would expect to hear from the minister sooner rather than later.
“We would like to hear back from the government as soon as possible. If there is to be a public inquiry then let’s have it and get on with it. We are ready to give any further information to help the process,” he said.
Sustainable Shetland’s chairman Kevin Learmonth said: “We obviously hope the new minister will listen to the views of the majority of Shetland and refuse planning permission on environmental grounds.
“If, at this stage, he feels unable to do that then as a minimum everybody agrees there should be a public inquiry.