As you will no doubt be aware, Sustainable Shetland has lost its appeal to the Supreme Court of the UK about the Scottish Court of Session’s Inner House decision regarding the Viking Windfarm.
We decided to appeal after receiving and discussing carefully and moderately what we consider to be our best legal advice.
We did this in the firm belief that the Viking Energy project and both its inevitable and probable consequences are wrong for Shetland.
We still regard it as our duty to point out our concerns about this project.
We are aware that some of our councillors participate in the Islands Renewable Energy Forum, which has declared that it sees the Northern and Western Isles as being the ‘powerhouses’ of renewable energy for Scotland, if not the UK, and envisages far more onshore windfarms on Shetland than the proposed Viking Energy development.
Furthermore, we understand from the Our Islands Our Future campaign, grid connections to the Scottish mainland are considered a priority, and the Secretary of State for Scotland and our MP, Alistair Carmichael, who met with OIOF late last year, declared that it would be a “tragedy” or “disaster” if Shetland did not get a grid connection (interconnector).
We believe that the grid connection so envisaged would lead to grave contradiction of SIC, and indeed Scottish, planning policies, but it appears that that is being unofficially sanctioned, and on Shetlanders’ behalf, without proper scrutiny.
We are also aware of the continuing uncertainty of grid connections to the Northern and Western Isles, of the costs of transmission, and of subsidies.
As late as November 2014, SSE referred to “this exceedingly complex situation” and stated: “For its part SHE Transmission has made it clear that, in line with its operating licence, it would be prepared to submit a needs case to Ofgem for an appropriate transmission solution at the right time but making such a case without greater certainty on the scale of development and its timing is not practically possible.” (SSE plc Interim results for the six months to 30 September 2014 -12 November 2014)
We believe you are, as members of a planning authority, responsible and answerable to the Shetland public, and to the environment we inhabit.
We are also aware that several of you are, or may be, sceptical of, or opposed to, the Viking Energy project, and the assumed benefits that it would bring to Shetland.
Indeed we are of the opinion that those assumed benefits have led in the past to unwise and counterproductive spending by the council, and are partly responsible for the severity of the cuts that are now being implemented.
We are extremely concerned that such scepticism, or opposition, is not being fully voiced either within the Council or in the public domain by you, representatives of the Shetland public.
As you know, the previous council, against the recommendations of its planning officials, approved the Viking Windfarm, thus preventing a statutory Public Local Inquiry, at which many of the concerns expressed by the public and organisations could have been properly aired and debated.
We earnestly wish that you, who are surely genuinely concerned about the future of the Shetland community you represent, of Shetland’s environment and its landscape, ensure that the Viking Windfarm and its potential consequences are debated in the Council Chamber, openly and publicly, so that the pros and cons of the project, and its implications, are fully and accountably aired.
Finally, we believe that the acceptance of the Viking Windfarm project as being the only way forward for Shetland’s renewable energy development has effectively stifled any alternative, creative and constructive vision and debate. We attach some alternative renewable energy strategies and measures, which we believe are worthy of careful consideration.
Yours sincerely, for and on behalf of Sustainable Shetland,
With: Morag Hay, Robina Barton, James Mackenzie, Elizabeth Jamieson, Norrie Jamieson, Linda Fox, Averil Simpson, Mike Greaves, Kathy Greaves, Donnie Morrison, Evelyn Morrison, Sue Wailoo, Lilian I. Williamson, Marlene Haviland, Peter Haviland, Hazel Jamieson, Marsali Taylor, Philip Taylor, John Anderson, Victor Gray, Jim Fraser, Vic Drosso, J. Bennett, Sue Arthur, Oliver Cheyne, Raymond M. Ferrie, Betty Ferrie, Annabel Smith, Christine Henry, Alec Henry, Johan Adamson, Colin Tulloch, Alan Moncrieff, Sally Huband, Rosemary C. G. Macklin, Mike Bennett, Allen Fraser, Lorna Moncrieff, Jim Moncrieff, Suzy Jolly, Roberta Clubb, Robert Anderson, Caroline Henderson, Andrew Halcrow, Jim T. Nicolson, Pia Duernberger, Dave Hammond, Jon Moncrieff, Lilian Moncrieff
[This letter is signed by 50 people, comprising Sustainable Shetland officers, its management committee, and several members who were present at a meeting on 3rd March. However, we would remind you that our total membership stands at over 860, and shows no sign of diminishing.]