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Charity backs anti Viking legal fight

lady clark of calton

A LEADING land charity has donated £3,000 towards the legal costs of the campaign group fighting plans for a major wind farm in Shetland.

Lawyers acting for the Scottish government have spent the past four days in Edinburgh’s Court of Session defending their decision to grant planning permission to the Viking Energy wind farm last year.

The judicial review called by campaign group Sustainable Shetland opposing the 103 turbine development will conclude next week.

On Tuesday Viking Energy will present their case to the court after which two more days have been set down for Thursday and Friday, following which Lady Clark of Calton will make her judgment.

This will either lead to a local public inquiry into the plans, or clear the path for the developers to proceed with the project, which they hope will start generating electricity in 2018.

The judicial review was initially set down for four days in January, but has been adjourned twice, increasing the legal fees on both sides considerably.

On Friday the John Muir Trust announced they would contribute £3,000 towards Sustainable Shetland’s legal costs “in the spirit of solidarity with a besieged community and in support of a just cause”.

Head of policy Helen McDade said: “The development of 103 turbines, each rising higher than the tallest buildings in Glasgow and Edinburgh, would be visible across most of the Shetland mainland.
 
“The site will stretch up to 11 miles long and seven miles wide, damaging and destroying precious natural habitats.

“It will require 65 miles of new roads, up to 10 metres wide, which will be bulldozed through peat and blanket bog, releasing vast quantities of carbon into the atmosphere – contributing to the very greenhouse gas emissions this scheme is supposed to be reducing.
 
“It will mean the construction of a number of new buildings of concrete and steel, and the excavation of a dozen quarries to provide materials.

“We are 100 per cent behind the legal action by Sustainable Shetland to prevent this ecological catastrophe which would severely impact on Shetland’s reputation as a wonderful natural heritage tourism destination.”

Sustainable Shetland have incurred tens of thousands of pounds in legal costs, paid for from donations from their supporters.

Chairman Andrew Halcrow said the membership remained committed to fighting the case despite the increasing bill.

They hope Lady Clark will order a local planning inquiry into the wind farm, which the government said was not necessary as the local authority did not object to the development.

However campaigners point to the fact that the wind farm is joint funded by Shetland Charitable Trust, which at the time of the decision was controlled by local councillors who they say had a clear conflict of interest.

Viking Energy are not commenting on the issue while legal proceedings continue.

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