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Viking health study concerns

CONCERNS have been raised about how seriously Shetland Charitable Trust is taking a health study into the impact of the planned Viking Energy wind farm.

The trust commissioned the study in June last year as a pre-condition to releasing a further £6.3 million towards the 103 turbine project, in which it holds a 45 per cent share.

The study was compiled by NHS Shetland’s director of public health, Dr Sarah Taylor, and published without fanfare on the health board’s website in July.

Her 48 page report comes before the trust for the first time on Thursday, and is marked for “noting” as it was “not directly commissioned” by the trust.

Anti-Viking campaign group Sustainable Shetland said the report identified some important concerns, particularly in relation to mental health.

A spokesman said: “We hope the charitable trust will make a public response to it, outlining what action, if any, they intend to take in view of the findings.

“We would also like some clarity on who commissioned and paid for the report.”

Former trust chairman Drew Ratter explained: “As chair, I would have had to have commissioned a study, and Shetland Charitable Trust would have had to pay for it.

“However, Sarah Taylor offered to do it gratis, and retain ownership of it. This offer was accepted.”

Taylor herself said she had agreed to write the report as long as she could keep the intellectual property rights.

She said: “What I agreed to was that I would write the report, make it available to the trustees but publish it myself. I didn’t take any money for it, as I regarded this as part of my public health job.”

For the report she reviewed a huge amount of good quality research, which established a clear relationship between the level of noise and the proximity of houses to wind farms.

“The more recent studies are absolutely relevant to the Shetland situation,” she said.

“But the things that people do need to take into account in relation to the Shetland proposals are about size of turbines and the number of turbines proposed.

“Much of the research has come from industrial-sized wind farms, but not necessarily of the scale of the Shetland proposal, which has more and larger size turbines than much of the historical work.”

She added that it had not been her brief to look into the potential health impact of the proposed Viking wind farm on the people of Shetland.

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