SIC - Orkney & Shetland valuation joint board

Letters / Go ahead and invest

The Viking wind farm project has moved far beyond counting the number of advocates and what percentage of this population or that population they represent. That is yesterday’s argument.

Viking has approval from the Scottish government and is going ahead and so will the interconnector that will export renewable energy to the mainland, bringing in millions of pounds to the Shetland economy and new jobs and business opportunities for many years as well as allowing new renewable sources to be developed here.

There is only one more decision to be taken. Should the Shetland Charitable Trust invest a further six million pounds in the project as their contribution to take Viking forward to commencement? If they do, the trust’s income will in future receive a considerable “windfall” and in addition, the local community benefit will result in very large sums going directly into local communities to support whatever they feel is worthy of investment in their own localities.

All of this will bring a new era of prosperity to Shetland, similar to the oil boom we have already experienced and prospered by. And this time, it could last a whole lot longer than the oil boom as the new offshore energies of tide and wave power are developed and serviced by local companies here.

As I said, only one decision remains to be made and that is an investment decision by the Shetland Charitable Trust. For the future prosperity and well being of this community that investment decision should be yes. For the future benefit it will bring to the charitable trust’s own capital that decision should be yes.

As a sensible, profitable investment for the trust and for Shetland too, the only decision is yes, go ahead and invest. This community will thank the current unelected trustees for it for many years to come and no doubt if elected trustees are brought in, they too will be thankful such a beneficial investment was made.

There is no need for any further prevarication. The business case for investment by the trust has been made. The way ahead is clear and Scotland’s top charity experts have stated there is no conflict of interest for Shetland councillors sitting as charitable trust trustees when making decisions about investments for the future benefit of the trust itself.

If by chance trustees did decide not to invest further in Viking, other investors would quickly move in to share in the considerable profits that are going to result from this development. The trust’s influence and control over it on behalf of this community would then be compromised and Shetland would have very little influence on the biggest financial windfall this community has ever known and all the benefits this development could bring.

There is no case for a “no” vote to investment and a very compelling case for “yes.” It is time to cut the cackle and get on with the job for the sake of this community.

Les Lowes