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Letters / Unprecedented judgement

There have been some press comments recently that Sustainable Shetland has its head in the sand as far as the development of renewables is concerned. That is very far from the truth.

Our constitution has as among its aims and objectives the following:

a. To oppose plans for very large wind farms in Shetland, such as the Viking Energy wind farm development.
b. To support renewable energy projects in Shetland which are fit for scale and fit for purpose.
c. To support social, environmental and economic sustainability in Shetland
Our campaign against the Viking wind farm has nothing to do with romantic or nostalgic visions of Shetland. It shares many of the objections and concerns, lodged by a number of other bodies, including the SIC’s own planning department, Scottish Natural Heritage in its capacity as the government’s scientific adviser, John Muir Trust, the RSPB, Shetland Amenity Trust, Shetland Bird Club, and thousands of individuals.

These concerns include the harm that this particular project would do to Shetland’s present and future environment and biodiversity, to people’s health, to tourism, to the carbon resource of our peat lands, the loss of which we believe would not credibly be offset by the carbon savings claimed by Viking Energy.

We also have very serious doubts as to the financial viability of the project. This is shared by a growing number of people, and even by the UK government department, DECC.

Another serious concern has been apparent flouting of democracy, both local and national, during the planning process.

It was because we felt so many of the these concerns had evidently not been addressed by the Scottish government that we decided to pursue, as a last resort, a Judicial Review of its decision letter giving consent to the wind farm.

In effect a relatively small voluntary group (though large in Shetland terms) carried on its shoulders, at considerable personal cost, all those bodies’ and people’s objections and concerns into the courtroom.

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Our legal representatives concentrated on two or three specific legal issues although there were other issues of concern.

This was against the seemingly unlimited combined resources of Viking Energy – mostly funded by our Shetland Charitable Trust, energy giant SSE (which has just announced another hike in consumers’ bills), and the Scottish government.

The judgement made at the Judicial Review in our favour has been unprecedented, and in no small measure is vindication of all those genuine beliefs that this project would have a massive negative impact on the future of Shetland, its terrestrial and aquatic habitats, and its people.

Frank Hay
Sustainable Shetland

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