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Letters / Coy or perhaps ashamed?

The on-going furore over money held in trust for the people of Shetland, seemingly being hived off to the benefit of big business and speculators seeking a quick and easy buck on the promise of an improved “lifestyle” in return for the destruction of our environment, wildlife habitat and quality of life has resurfaced.

This prompted me to take a look at The Charitable Trust’s own web site at www.shetlandcharitabletrust.co.uk/index in order to try to get a balanced view on this significant debate.

I found it enlightening to read that the charitable trust was set up to act as guardians of the money paid by the oil industry to compensate the people of Shetland for the inconvenience suffered as a result of the oil.

To use this compensation to inflict more inconvenience seems to be somewhat ironic.

All right, perhaps I should be looking at long term benefits. I then read that the trust was set up to improve the quality of life (not necessarily “lifestyle”) for the people of Shetland and cites environment, natural history and heritage as being main areas, yet they choose to ignore the objections of Scottish Natural Heritage over long term environmental implications.

I am further told that the money acquired for the people of Shetland was being put to good use providing funding for charitable organisations for the benefit of the people of Shetland.

This led me to investigate the page entitled “Who We Fund”. I discovered a list of 16 charitable organisations and 14 projects all linked to local community groups, pensioners, the disabled, local charitable organisations, education and the disadvantaged. The page also quite rightly highlights its “one-off grant” to the charity appeal for the CAT scanner. No mention of Viking Energy so far.

My next port of call was the “What We Do” page which informs me that the Trust invests money in subsidiary companies such as SLAP and SHEAP – but no mention of VE. 

Further minute inspection brought me to a small button leading to “Subsidiary Companies.” There I found ten lines explaining the role of SLAP and six lines giving details of SHEAP. Finally, tucked away at the bottom of the page, I found two lines telling me nothing at all about Viking Energy and the trust’s involvement, although links were available to a number of reports.

If the charitable trust is so coy or perhaps ashamed of its dubious links with Viking Energy, then I would urge all trustees to take into consideration the fact that a substantial percentage of the people to whom it is responsible have voiced their objections to the Viking Energy proposals and within that number there are many whose lives will be seriously blighted if this project goes ahead.

Any trustees with anything resembling moral backbone should either refuse, or at the very least withhold, a decision on Monday to approve Viking Energy’s latest request for an additional £6.3 million funding grant from the Shetland community’s CHARITABLE reserves until all parties can give the Shetland community a clear break down as to what the previous investment of £3.42 million has been spent on and what the proposed spending programme is for the latest request.

Mike Bennett