THE SHETLAND company behind the Viking Energy wind farm has welcomed the decision by the Scottish government to approved a scaled down project.
All 24 turbines the company wanted to build north of Voe have now been removed from the plan to protect Scatsta airport, a key component in the country’s oil and gas industry.
This means there will be no turbines north of Voe, the 103 approved generators being based around the Kergord valley where the sub station for the interconnector will be built, lying between Aith, Voe and Nesting.
Viking Energy chairman Bill Manson said the wind farm would be one of the most productive in the world because of the amount of wind in Shetland.
He also assured doubters and opponents that the project had been designed with Shetland’s unique environment in mind.
“This is good news for Shetland, good news for Scotland and good news for the fight against climate change,” he said.
“But this is not just about the Viking wind farm and the massive benefits it can bring to Shetland. The associated grid connection will unlock future renewable projects including marine energy and help us generate a whole new sustainable industry in Shetland.”
The wind farm received 2,772 objections, representing more than 10 per cent of the population, and the issue has split families and communities in the isles.
Addressing those who believe the wind farm poses more of a threat than an opportunity for the isles, Mr Manson said: “We appreciate that not everybody will be happy about this decision and we want to reassure those people who opposed the application that we will continue to endeavour to minimise or mitigate any impacts.
“The habitat management plan that goes with the consent is by far the biggest of any wind farm in the UK, and will deliver significant and much-needed environmental improvements to Shetland which would not be happening were it not for this wind farm.
“There is still much to do before a wind farm in the central mainland of Shetland becomes a certainty.”
The first step facing the partners in the project now is raising the funds, with a report due to be presented to the charitable trust at the earliest opportunity.
Mr Manson explained: “We will publish a programme of activity soon which will outline key stages in the process on financing, procurement and construction.
“Good liaison and partnership with stakeholders, including local businesses and the community, in delivering the project will be a high priority and plans for these will be set out as soon as possible in line with the consent conditions”.
Scottish and Southern Energy’s director of onshore renewables David Gardner said: “The partnership between SSE, an industry leader in renewables, and the Shetland Charitable Trust, is extremely positive and has the ability to leave a lasting legacy for Shetland and for Scotland.”
Related stories from today: