Evelyn Morrison is absolutely right in her assessment of the Speakeasy panel (Appalling lack of foresight; SN, 14/01/2019)
Unfortunately Shetland tourism is sleepwalking into a situation that will see this industry decline just as quickly as it has increased in the last few years.
Clearly those on the panel (with or without personal investments in a wind farm) have not the slightest notion on what it takes to construct Viking’s four giant industrial wind farms across 50 square miles of Central Mainland. Nor do they have any concept of the negative effect of an industrial landscape that will swallow up many of the view points for cruise ship tour busses and independent travellers.
Perhaps they should try to imagine a double carriageway road the length of the main road from Baltasound to Sumburgh bulldozed in a zig-zag pattern across the hills from North Nesting to South Nesting, from Laxo to the Half-way House, from Voe to Aith and from Aith to Weisdale.
Also try to imagine a dozen or so Scord size quarries dug out of the hillsides by giant excavators all linked together with their endless convoys of scores of giant dumper trucks and concrete transporters (it will need a convoy of 60 concrete transporters to batch-pour one turbine base).
When all this is underway huge low-loaders will completely fill the width of Shetland roads and start their slow convoys over public roads to the wind farms. Roads will be closed, tour busses and other traffic will crawl along at snail’s pace behind the convoys through a carved up and blighted landscape.
Once construction begins there will be no let up, priority will be given to everything wind farm. This process will take years, how long? Perhaps five years, perhaps 10; the more wind farms that are built in Yell or around Lerwick and Scalloway the longer disruption will go on.
A wide cable track and concrete junction boxes will be blasted along the length of Shetland’s prettiest green valley to form a wide scar reaching the vast converter station in the shadowed valley of Kergord. The converter site will be a giant blot on the landscape with an area larger than three football pitches and building up to four storeys high. Dozens of tall pylons connecting the wind farms to the converter station will carry endless power lines across the landscape.
When construction is finished and turbines erected, what will our visitors see. From their viewpoints our low rolling moorland hills of 100 to 200 feet high will be crisscrossed in a stark pattern of wide bulldozed tracks and black quarry faces as far as the eye can see.
These scars will wind their way from valley floor to hills capped by over one hundred turbines three times taller than the hills on which they stand to completely dominate the landscape in every direction.
Once clear of Lerwick and Central Mainland the same vistas will greet the visitors in Yell or anywhere else they try to go, for in Shetland’s small landmass there will be no escape from sight of an industrial landscape.
Shetland is intent on building a landscape that no one (other than a construction engineer on a busman’s holiday) will want to visit.