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Trust postpones Viking Energy debate

SHETLAND Charitable Trust has pulled a report on future funding of the Viking Energy wind farm from Thursday’s meeting as there will be too few trustees present to make a decision.

Chairman Bill Manson announced at 5pm on Wednesday that the proposal to increase the trust’s investment from £3.4 million to £10 million would be presented at a future meeting.

Mr Manson explained that he knew there was great public interest in the issue and he did not want people wasting a journey, turning up only to find the matter had been adjourned.

He said that when they scheduled the report to be released at 5.23pm on Tuesday they believed sufficient trustees would have been present to make a decision.

“Since then we have found out we have four more people than we actually knew about at the time we made the decision who will be away and a couple of people who won’t remain in the meeting because there might be or is a conflict of interest,” he said.

“This is a subject in which there might have been a great deal of public interest and rather than people finding out when they arrive that they have wasted a journey we decided to pull the report.”

The report spells out the argument for the trust investing a further £6.3 million in the wind farm development to take it to the construction stage, should the Scottish government grant full or partial consent for the 127 turbine development.

That decision is expected shortly, with speculation that energy minister Fergus Ewing might approve a reduced wind farm to accommodate concerns from Scatsta airport and Scottish Natural Heritage.

If the government opts for a public inquiry, the trust’s financial controller Jeff Goddard recommends investing a further £360,000 to maintain the Viking Energy back office function in order to protect the initial investment.

Ironically on Thursday the trust will be debating whether to allow trustees to attend meetings via videolink, should they be unable to physically attend.

The recommendation is that they be allowed to vote, but there would have to be enough people attending the meeting in person to create a quorum for decision to be ratified.

It has become increasingly challenging to achieve a quorum for Viking Energy debates at Shetland Charitable Trust during the past five years.

Three trustees – Bill Manson, Alastair Cooper and Caroline Miller – must declare a conflict of interest as company directors, Allan Wishart has resigned from the trust as Viking Energy’s project co-ordinator and several trustees have refused to participate as they feel there is a conflict of interest.

Furthermore, trustees Sandy Cluness and Jonathan Wills resigned from the trust in December after it voted to remove democratic control of the £200 million organisation as part of a reform package to satisfy the most recent charity legislation.