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Viking faces crofters’ objections in land court

THE SCOTTISH Land Court will be sitting in Lerwick as of Monday afternoon (2 July) to decide whether or not Viking Energy will receive permission to build its planned 103-turbine wind farm on crofting land in the north mainland of Shetland.

Four local crofters, John Anderson, James Cheyne, Kerry Tait and Lorna Moncrieff, have all objected to Viking’s application under section 19A of the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993.

Under the act a landlord, or any person acting with the consent of the landlord, needs to apply to the land court for consent of any major development.

The applicant needs to prove that the development is for a reasonable purpose, that the scheme provides a fair recompense to the crofting community in the area affected, and that the crofting community would be likely to benefit financially.

The hearing is due to start at 2pm at the Islesburgh Community Centre, and it will be before the court’s chairman Lord Minginish and Tom Campbell, one of the land court’s agricultural members.

A whole week has been set aside for the hearing if necessary.

The land court hearing had originally been scheduled for November 2016 but it was postponed due to the lack of clear UK Government support for island windfarm developments at the time.

Following consultation with the renewables industry, the UK Government announced in December 2016 that remote island wind projects would be permitted to apply for subsidies under the Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction process.

Although a decision as to whether Viking Energy will be successful in the auction process is not expected before autumn next year, the land court decided – against the opposition of the objectors – that the hearing should go ahead now.