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Crofters and wind farm developers clash at land court hearing

THE SECOND day of a hearing by the Scottish Land Court into the Viking wind farm development concluded in Lerwick on Tuesday.

Court chairman Lord Minginish heard evidence and cross-examination from both the developers Viking Energy and crofters who oppose the 103-turbine windfarm.

Presenting their case were Viking Energy head of development Aaron Priest and development project manager Jon Soal, while expert witness Tim Kirkwood gave evidence on valuation matters in the afternoon.

First witness for the objectors Aith crofter Lorna Moncrieff also gave her evidence in the afternoon but was challenged over the relevance of much of her testimony by Viking Energy QC Ailsa Wilson.

A disagreement over the visual impact of the central mainland located farm is also likely to result in a visit to the proposed windfarm site by the court.

Kirkwood told the court that objectors’ fears over the effect on property prices were usually overstated with houses located near wind farms usually meeting their asking price.

The roads leading to the massive turbines would prove an asset to crofters once the turbines are removed, he said, but there was less certainty on the extent of reinstatement of the site, though he believed the concrete bases would ultimately be reduced and buried.

Kirkwood did concede that a visual impact assessment of the farm for his company, using off-the-shelf software, had been conducted by SSE’s own technicians, prompting a call for a site visit to try and resolve the disputed visuals.

Moncrieff said that she was wholly opposed to every aspect of the wind farm and launched an attack on it from perspectives of compensation, the environment, health, its financial viability and the impact on the viability of crofting.

But Wilson questioned if she understood the remit of the land court and stated that “much of your evidence is irrelevant to what this court has to consider”.

She also challenged Moncrieff’s figures that the Viking wind farm covered 10 per cent of mainland Shetland and suggestions that if a wind farm proportional to Viking was built on the Scottish mainland then renewable output would be more then quadrupled.

The court still has to consider evidence from objectors Kerry Tait, James Cheyne and John Anderson, which is likely to be heard on Wednesday.


Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021