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Viking compensation fund “premature”

VIKING Energy’s insistence that its wind farm project will not impact on local house prices appears to be softening after speaking to the property industry.

In September Viking Energy chairman Bill Manson had told Shetland Charitable Trust that setting up a compensation fund for neighbouring householders would “not be responsible”.

He was responding to a request on the issue from trustees, who control a 45 per cent stake in the huge development and expressed disappointment with his initial response.

In a second letter to the trust published this week following consultation with local property valuers, Manson has revised his view to calling such a fund “premature”.

The letter to trust chairman Drew Ratter will be discussed at Thursday’s meeting of trustees.

In the letter, Manson says it is “rarely possible” to “quantify objectively any effect of wind farms on prices”.

He adds that there is “a significant measure of agreement” that it is even harder to assess the impact of a wind farm that is still in the planning stage.

Viking does not envisage erecting any of the 103 turbines it has planning permission to build until 2017.

Regarding a property compensation fund, Manson says: “At this still relatively early stage of the project it is too soon to be taking specific measures.

“In the meantime, circumstances will be kept under periodic consideration and the dialogue which has been opened up here should continue.”

He repeated his assertion that no precedent for such a fund exists in the renewable energy industry.

“This project has no income of its own. Any compensation would have to be funded by contributions from the partners in the development, or by individual partner(s) if not all were willing to contribute.”

Meanwhile Shetland Islands Council has started formulating a policy to encourage potential renewable energy developers to contribute towards community projects.

They are suggesting £5,000 per annum per installed megawatt would be a reasonable figure.

A meeting of the Shetland Partnership Board on Tuesday morning heard that discussions have already taken place on the subject between Viking Energy and Shetland Community Benefit Fund Limited (SCBFL), a registered co-operative.