It comes as no surprise to Sustainable Shetland that Energy Isles has taken this opportunity to lodge its planning application for a large windfarm in North Yell (Proposal to build large wind farm in north Yell; SN, 29/11/2017).
However, as the scoping report submitted to the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit was prepared by July 2017, there has already have been a fair amount of activity by consultants. Indeed, preliminary bird and habitat surveys were undertaken in 2016.
The latter show that not far off 100 per cent of the site is on blanket bog, and significantly its southernmost boundary is just north of the East Mires and Lumbister Special Area of Conservation, so designated on account of its active blanket bog.
A look at the map shows that it is, in terms of Shetland’s landscape, in a relatively remote area. Its moor, lochs and burns are likely to support a fair amount of wildlife.
Building wind farms on active blanket bog is acknowledged to be counter-productive, as far as saving carbon is concerned. There are, moreover, other means and incentives for restoring damaged bog than by further damaging it and promising habitat management plans in mitigation.
The construction phase of large wind farms is very far from being environmentally friendly and it is very doubtful if the end justifies the means.
Sustainable Shetland regards the application, even at this early stage, as highly unlikely to win its approval. We have long warned of the danger of industrial wind farm proliferation in the isles, and this scheme, to all intents and purposes, is an example of it.
We also do not share the opinion that the next rounds of CfD auctions make it probable that this and other Shetland wind farms, such as Viking, will go ahead.
There is still considerable uncertainty over the commercial viability of such schemes, which will require long and expensive inter-connectors, without unacceptable levels of subsidy, ultimately paid for by electricity consumers. At present the CfD budget appears to be a very limited one.
N.B. It has not escaped our notice that Energy Isles Ltd describes itself as: “Building a Sustainable Future for Shetland”, as if in direct contradiction to our organisation.
We believe that we are sustained, both physically and mentally, first and foremost by our environment. If we destroy or desecrate it, future generations will have to pay for our misdeeds – that is unsustainable.
If we destroy or desecrate it in the name of sustainability, there is something far wrong.