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Developer’s ‘educated gamble’ over windfarm

Peel Energy development director Jonathan English. Photo: Shetland News/Hans J. Marter.

THE COMPANY behind plans to build 21 wind turbines just outside Lerwick is taking an “educated gamble” in the expectation that a 600 MW subsea cable will eventually link Shetland with the National Grid.

Peel Energy held the first of its four first pre-planning consultation meetings in the Staney Hill Hall in Lerwick on Tuesday.

The public was invited to respond to the company’s initial proposals for the Mossy Hill windfarm. Most of those attending on Tuesday afternoon said that, while they generally were in favour of wind energy, they had not made up their mind about the latest proposal.

The company’s development director Jonathan English admitted that the company had “no certainty” that the project would ever go ahead as there has been no decision on feed-in tariffs and on whether onshore windfarms in Scotland will qualify for subsidies or not.

“We could take the view that there has been substantial changes in policy and back away from onshore wind as a developer. We have chosen not to do that,” he said.

“We think that there is still a good chance that it will remain in the subsidy pot and on the back of that we continue to promote this development here. We are pretty good as assessing the risks, we have developed a number of onshore wind farms and our consent rate is very high.

An indicative map of where the 21 wind turbines could go.

“It is a gamble. Getting planning is a gamble, particular for onshore wind, but we like to think we are on the right side of that, we are an educated gambler.”

The company has kept the proposed capacity of the project below the 50MW threshold to keep the planning process local. To be built on land mainly owned by the Anderson family, the number of turbines may well reduce as the consultation process continues.

English said it might well take another year until all the studies are in place to enable Peel Energy to submit a full planning application. A Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) has been lodged with Shetland Islands Council on 7 April.

Following initial confusion over the name of the Mossy Hill development – located in central Shetland rather than on the scenic South Mainland hilltop – English added that the company might opt to change the name following consultation.

Peel Energy is also waiting for a final planning decision from Scottish ministers for its 17-turbine Beaw Field wind farm project in Yell. 

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