Letters / Remove that shroud

I refer to Peter Hamilton’s letter (‘Trust needs a fresh start’, SN 3/9/16), and in particular to the aims of Shetland Charitable Trust (SCT) – quoted from Dr. Wills’ appendix two of his discussion paper included in the Institute of Directors report on governance reform.

These aims are presumably those that are presented to potential trustee candidates (at least since 2014), and they are to be lauded.

Among them is the improvement of “the quality of life in Shetland, especially in the areas of… the environment, natural history and heritage”, and the protection and enhancement of “Shetland’s environment, heritage, culture and traditions”.

Sustainable Shetland has consistently (along with other organisations and many individuals) questioned the environmental, “natural history” and “quality of life” benefits that the Viking wind farm proponents claim it will bring to the Shetland community.

SCT still has to make a final investment decision (FID) on the project; if it is eventually “yes”, a vast amount of its funds will be committed to the project, in addition to the £10+ million already committed. How this would affect provision of services to the community according to the above and other aims should surely be a major concern.


Some of the funds committed continue to be spent on legal fees, with VE’s representatives now challenging objections lodged by Sustainable Shetland, crofters and others with the Scottish Land Court. Meanwhile the directors and employees of Viking Energy, and consultants, are partly or wholly financed by these same community funds.

It is to be hoped that the trustees will vote in favour of democratic control of SCT; at least then, if and when a FID is made, a majority of the trustees will, transparently and as accountably as possible, act in the interests of the people of Shetland while upholding the aims of the trust.

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There is otherwise a real danger that appointed trustees will continue to pursue the VE project to the bitter end, as they will be expected to conform with the status quo. The public – the community – still does not know what the contents of the Busta House Agreement are – for example, are there penalties to be incurred should a party withdraw from it?

Planning permission is currently being sought by VE for the “upgrade” of the Sandwater–Kergord road, and the access road to the proposed converter station at Upper Kergord, while work is continuing on finalising a habitat management plan. Meanwhile Highland Council has notified that SHETL intends to apply for planning permission for a huge switching station to be installed outside Wick for the Shetland interconnector.

This all gives the impression that the project is going ahead as planned and without hindrance, and that the developers are certain of it. Recent national political upheavals, however, have quite possibly further jeopardised the viability of the project, so all this activity could as well be part of a concerted effort to persuade Ofgem and the UK Government of the need for an interconnector and a special offshore island transmission charge or ‘strike price’.


“The Viking wind farm is a joint venture between the Shetland community and the utility company SSE,” boasts the VE website.  Very little, if any, information comes from SCT, which is supposedly acting for the community, as to what is actually going on; this is likely to continue if appointees are to run the trust.

Too much secrecy has shrouded the project, and this is surely, in spirit, also contrary to the trust’s aims. True democratic control of SCT would, we believe, remove that shroud.

James Mackenzie

Sustainable Shetland vice chairman 

The Lea, Tresta

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