CONCERNS have been raised by the likes of Scottish Natural Heritage and Tingwall Airport over the proposed Mossy Hill wind farm as the planning process for the 21-turbine development continues.
Scalloway Community Council members said they would object to Peel Energy’s initial plans for a wind farm outside of Lerwick, while the town’s own community council has raised concerns over possible health, social and environmental impacts.
Pre-planning consultations have already been held in public in the isles on the project, which would only be able to go ahead if an inter-connector cable was installed between Shetland and the UK mainland to allow it to be linked to the national grid.
Peel Energy said all of the feedback will be used in the ongoing planning process and an updated design could be completed by the end of the year.
The Manchester based company has been gathering scoping information and opinions ahead of an environmental impact assessment being carried out on the project, which hopes to erect turbines up to 145 metres tall.
Documents lodged with Shetland Islands Council’s planning department show that the development has a lifespan of 25 years and unless an application is submitted to extend the project, the turbines would ultimately be removed and the site would be restored.
Scalloway Community Council said it would object to the initial planning application due to the proximity of the wind farm to a national scenic area, as well as the impact of the “aural pollution from the windmills and the potential negative impact to ecology and water resources”.
It also had concerns over potential land slippage and possible interference to telecoms and terrestrial TV transmission.
Lerwick’s community council said members had a “number of concerns”, including the the impact on red throated divers which reside at the loch of Gossa Water in the summer, as well as the development’s distance from housing and the potential effects on the “natural growth” of the town.
The Gulberwick, Quarff and Cunningsburgh community council said it wanted more information but noted issues like the density of the development, the visual impact and the provision for its eventual demolition.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) said the proposal has the “potential for significant adverse effects” in the south-west mainland section of the Shetland National Scenic Area, as well as Lerwick and Scalloway.
It added that development of the wind farm’s design should include “consideration of the scale” of the plans, particularly in the number and size of the turbines.
SNH said the environmental assessment should consider the impact on birds which are known to populate the nearby east mainland coast, which is a special protection area, with the RSPB also adding representation.
The assessment should look at the possible impact on red-throated divers, including as a consequence of hitting the turbines, as well as disturbance or displacement from breeding lochs, the RSPB said.
Tingwall Airport said that on days with moderate to strong north easterly winds and low cloud, planes headed to Fair Isle would no longer be able to route via Gulberwick and instead would need to travel through Lerwick Harbour, meaning an increase in fuel use and lengthening travel time.
Scottish Water said that one of the turbines of the proposal is in the catchment area for the Sandy Loch reservoir and efforts should be made, if possible, for all activity to take place outside of the area.
The proposed capacity of the wind farm would be below 50MW, meaning that the planning process can be undertaken locally.
Peel Energy development manager Bernadette Barry said the views of the community is one of the most important factors in the process.
“We are currently in the process of reviewing all opinions and technical information from statutory and non-statutory consultees and, most importantly, from local people,” Barry said.
“These views and information help us to clarify our design and plans which we look forward to completing and presenting to local people again towards the end of the year.”
Peel Energy is also waiting for a final planning decision from Scottish ministers for its 17-turbine Beaw Field wind farm project in Yell.
The company, and fellow wind farm hopefuls Viking Energy, were given a boost in May after the Conservatives’ manifesto suggested the party would support island wind projects if they were returned to government after Thursday’s election.