CAB - Money worries mounting up?

Viking considers its options after setback

SCT chairman Bill Manson

VIKING Energy Shetland LLP will spend the next two days deciding how to proceed with the controversial wind farm project after joint partner Shetland Charitable Trust failed to reach a decision on further funding.

Company director and trust chairman Bill Manson warned that the community’s input to the project could be diluted and the charitable trust be seen as an unreliable partner.

The project to build a 370 megawatt wind farm in the central mainland of Shetland received planning consent from Scottish ministers two weeks ago.

But on Monday the charitable trust was unable to gather sufficient members around the table to make a decision to release a further £6.3 million to take the wind farm project the construction phase.

Mr Manson said the charitable trust now had to ask its partners to “carry” them in the hope that new money would be released at a later stage.

“The project proceeds with minimal ability for the charitable trust to participate as a shareholder,” Mr Manson said following Monday’s trust meeting.

“We have to ask our partners to carry us, in a situation where we have no knowledge on whether we are going to get any further funding, and if we are going to get it, when are we going to get it. It makes us an unreliable partner and a worry to them.

“ I would just ask the trustees of the charitable trust and the people of Shetland to think how they would react if the boot was on the other foot and one of the other partners would ask us to do this? They would be appalled.”

He said that new funding was urgently needed to move the project forward, adding that it was important to catch the summer weather window to get site studies under way.

“Our funding from our shareholders – the charitable trust – was to take it to consent, it wasn’t to take it beyond consent. Therefore we need a budget.

“The timing is not of our choosing. The Scottish government granted consent. We had no role in the timing of it, we have applied some time ago and I had expected and hoped the consent might have received much sooner.”

He also insisted that the charitable trust had the mandate to continue to pursue the project as the majority of the community was behind it.

“Surely, we have a contentious project which has aroused deep feelings in sectors of the community, but just as Sustainable Shetland believe that they represent the majority of the community, which they cannot demonstrate, we believe that actually we represent a majority of the community.”

Meanwhile, a more detailed breakdown of the funds requested by Viking Energy over the next two years has emerged.

The potential £6.3 million investment represents 45 per cent of the estimated sum of £14 million needed to develop the wind farm project further, with £7 million coming from Scottish & Southern Energy, and £700,000 from the four minority shareholders.

Of the £14 million, by far the largest chunk – £6.6 million – will go to site investigations, studies and assessments.

A further £2.5 million will be used for investment auditing (due diligence), £1.5 million for construction engineering and technical studies and advice, and finally £1.2 million for running the business, including £250,000 for community liaison and public relations.

Viking Energy Shetland LLP is a partnership between Viking Energy Ltd (45 per cent share in VES LLP and wholly owned by Shetland Charitable Trust), Viking Wind Ltd (five per cent share, held by four local business men) and SSE Viking Ltd (50 per cent share in VES LLP, and wholly owned by Scottish & Southern Energy plc)

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021