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Letters / A one trick pony fighting a disastrous battle

THERE seems to be no limit to the hypocrisy of Sustainable Shetland (SuS) and their poisonous campaign against Viking Energy (Viking wind farm project all wrong for Shetland; SN, 17 June 2019) It reminds me of Boris’s Brexit bus and its ever-changing slogans to suit the moment with no regard to what they’ve previously said.

If you look back through the vast amount of letters sent to Shetland News from ‘Sustainable Shetland’ and its members you’ll see an ever changing line of attack which pretty much contradict themselves at every turn.

Let’s start with the disastrous battle to save the whimbrels. SuS were at the forefront of protecting this rare bird, hundreds of passionate concerned citizens were ready to put their life on the line to prevent the butcher of the Lang Kames. Court case lost, whimbrels in the bin.

If you look back at other letters where SuS raised grave concerns about the use of the Shetland Charitable Trust’s funds to build such a large project, they felt it was down right foolish to lumber our islands’ trust with such debt on such a risky project.

The charitable trustees were being blinded to the millions that could be potential earned and were lumping all their eggs in one basket. Numerous letters were sent protesting against the money being spent to support the charitable trust’s share.

Fast forward and here we are, the trust has deleveraged its position, completely reduced its risk and exposure to the project and now has an agreement where it will pay no further money towards the project but will receive a pay-out each year. SuS happy? Think again, they’re now screaming SELL OUTs!!!

Moving on to the bane of SuS’s campaign; something they’ve never managed to shake off and really been their downfall when it’s comes to their credibility; is the building of the Shetland Gas Plant.

Once the whimbrels were kicked out the door and told to fend for themselves they quickly jumped on the bandwagon of carbon emissions released while disturbing the peat.

They roared from the highest hills that disturbing the peat would cause more damaged than the wind turbines can do good. Unfortunately the building of the SGP was announced shortly after SuS’s latest brainwave and Shetland’s community waited with bated breath on what their response would be. Silence.

SuS’s were pressed on the issue yet squirmed and dodged the question as much as possible. Although there was and still is overwhelming support for the gas plant why did they not care?

No emissions payback, thousands of tons of peat disturbed, new quarry’s dug or old ones expanded, thousands of men, trucks and heavy machinery thundering through the northern villages. Absolute silence.

When their chairman was pressed again he announced they supported SGP and it’s £500millon cost was value for money, slightly forgetting about the £3billion spent on the pipelines, drilling and subsea completions to the west of Shetland.

When further pressed their now chairmen announced it was the lesser of evils, the building of Scotland’s 14th largest carbon emissions polluter (a statistic that has seen muted mention from SS since announced) on our “green island” was essential to the economy.

Now we see their chairmen drum up arguments of who should benefit from the community funds. Sowing the seeds of dissent. Fortunately Shetland has a great history and track record of community funds. All for one and one for all.

Only a few simple examples but a picture starts to take shape, Boris would be proud. SuS was and are a one trick pony and care little for the wider island.

With the Shetland East Basin oil production drawing to a close and Clair oil fields processing contract up for tender, uncertainty is startling to set in on what Shetland’s economy will look like over the next 40 years.

The oil industry is changing, FPSO’s are the future and SVT is an out of date colossus. It’s at these moments in time that bold people look to the future, see the future and grab it by the throat.

We have a natural resource and like we have done for thousands of years we will harvest it.

Craig Johnson