INVESTORS in Shetland’s planned Viking Energy wind farm will have to wait at least eight years before they see a significant financial return, joint developer Shetland Charitable Trust heard on Thursday.
Trust vice chairman Jonathan Wills told fellow trustees that it would be 2020 before the 103 turbine development in central Shetland generated a sizeable income.
The trust hopes to earn more than £20 million a year when the 457 megawatt wind farm is fully operational.
It was originally scheduled to be up and running by the end of 2017, but now looks likely to be delayed due to increasing costs of running a subsea cable to export Shetland’s renewable energy to the mainland.
This week Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) told MSPs at Holyrood that they were reviewing the planned interconnector in view of rising costs. They have yet to issue a public statement on the subject.
Just last week SSE subsidiary Scottish Hydro Electric announced a 12 month delay and 75 per cent increase in costs for a proposed cable to Lewis, leading to calls for an inquiry.
Meanwhile Thursday’s trust meeting heard further concern about the impact the Shetland wind farm will have on property prices in the central mainland where it is due to be built.
Trustee Theo Smith said he was very disappointed in a response from Viking Energy about setting up a compensation fund for affected house owners.
Viking chairman Bill Manson had written to the trust saying there was no precedent for such a fund in the UK, and as it was unclear whether there would be any impact on prices it would be premature to set up such a fund.
However anti-Viking campaign group Sustainable Shetland have pointed to such a fund having been long-established in Denmark, citing a Danish newspaper article.
Its chairman Andrew Halcrow said: “Viking Energy seems to be in the habit of citing lack of precedent. The same sort of argument was used for the ditching of its Health Impact Assessment.
“The Viking Windfarm is advertised as a ‘community project’. Are not those who may suffer property devaluation – or adverse health impacts – members of this community?”
At Thursday’s meeting Wills said evidence from elsewhere needed to be taken into consideration, while fellow trustee Bobby Hunter added that if there was a problem it would need to be qualified.
Trustee Frank Robertson reminded the meeting that the council’s own planning service had recommended objecting to the project on the grounds of its impact on established settlements.
“The chickens will only come home to roost once the wind farm is built and home owners try to sell their property,” he said.
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