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Viking opponents take fight to Supreme Court

Sustainable Shetland members are determined to continue the fight against Viking Energy's windfarm.

ANTI-VIKING Energy campaign group Sustainable Shetland has announced that it will take its fight against the 103-turbine wind farm to the Supreme Court in London.

The decision was taken unanimously at a members’ meeting in Bixter Hall on Wednesday night and confirmed in a statement on Thursday morning.

In 2013 the Court of Session upheld Sustainable Shetland’s appeal in a judicial review against the Scottish Government’s decision to grant consent for the controversial project.

The project had been given the green light by energy minister Fergus Ewing back in April 2012. But earlier this summer the Inner House of the Court of Session overturned Lady Clark of Calton’s ruling, saying Ewing had acted lawfully in giving the project consent.

In a short statement, the campaign group – which says it has a membership of more than 800 – said it was “resolved that an appeal be lodged with the Supreme Court in London” and that it had no further comment at this stage.

Viking Energy is a 50:50 partnership between Viking Energy Shetland (VES) and SSE Viking Ltd, a subsidiary of energy giant SSE. VES is 90 per cent owned by Shetland Charitable Trust and 10 per cent owned by four of the Burradale wind farm owners.

Shetland Charitable Trust chairman Bobby Hunter said the trust was “really disappointed” Sustainable Shetland has not “accepted the very clear judgement from the senior Scottish judges” last month.

“This should have been the time that Shetlanders started coming together to work towards successful completion of this project, with all the jobs, economic security and social benefits it will bring,” Hunter said.

Lady Clark of Calton's decision to back Sustainable Shetland's appeal was overturned by three judges last month.

“Instead, Sustainable Shetland’s decision to appeal means we face many more months – perhaps years – of unnecessary delay before we know that Shetland’s financial future is secure.” 

Viking Energy Partnership responded by saying the three senior judges’ decision on 9 July was “very clear and found that the wind farm consent application was competent, and that Scottish ministers acted lawfully in consenting the project”.

Viking Energy head of development Aaron Priest said: “We note that Sustainable Shetland will now attempt to seek an appeal to the Supreme Court, in spite of the opinion of the three senior judges being so clearly in favour of the Scottish Government’s decision to grant consent to the Viking wind farm.”

He added: “We are very confident that the opinion of the three senior judges will be upheld.”

The developer points to an estimated £30 million a year it is hoped the wind farm could generate for the local community.

But Sustainable Shetland’s members believe the project would damage Shetland’s environment, is too financially risky and that an interconnector cable to transmit power to the UK mainland would “result in the wind farm industrialisation of hilltops throughout mainland Shetland”.