Ukraine fundraiser - 18 June 2024
Thursday 13 June 2024
 8.1°C   ENE Light Breeze
Ocean Kinetics - The Engineering Experts

Election letters 2019 / Rewriting Viking Energy history

Tom Wills clearly approves of the Viking Energy wind farm. But he is effectively re-writing history, and his attitude to breaches of planning conditions is woefully inadequate (A future of self-sufficiency in clean energy; SN, 13 August 2019)

He tells us that:

“The Viking Energy wind farm received exhaustive attention during the planning process and objectors’ views were considered before the minister granted planning permission.

“The minister imposed a number of conditions, designed to minimise and mitigate the perceived impacts on health, the environment and tourism, and to reduce to a minimum any disturbance during construction.

“The Court of Session looked in detail at the wind farm and its possible effects, during a lengthy legal case and appeal which ended with the grant of planning permission being upheld, with conditions imposed.

“If Viking Energy or any other developer does not comply with these conditions, then a complaint can – and should – be made via the council planning department.”

Of the 2,772 objections raised by the public, however, the minister concluded that they were “on a number of subjects including habitat, wildlife, visual impact and infrastructure”; concerns about health impacts were completely ignored. You won’t find a mention of them in the consent letter.

The issue of carbon payback, which was raised by a number of bodies, including RSPB, John Muir Trust, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Shetland Amenity Trust, Shetland Bird Club and Sustainable Shetland, was disregarded.

There was absolutely no scrutiny, as there should have been, of the payback calculations, or lack of them, presented by Viking Energy.

The minister also disagreed with his own scientific adviser, Scottish Natural Heritage, which had objected. This, if not unprecedented, was surely extraordinary.

The Court of Session – and Supreme Court – only dealt in detail with one aspect of the wind farm, and that was the legality of the minister’s handling of the impact of the wind farm on whimbrel.

Become a supporter of Shetland News


Judicial Review is extremely limited in its scope (strictly matters of law)  – in contrast to a Public Local Inquiry – but was the only option available for appeal against the minister’s decision.

Developers may appeal directly to a planning authority when an application is refused; if it is granted, other (aggrieved) parties only have recourse to the expensive and restricted process of Judicial Review.

The Scottish Government and the SNP have opposed recent attempts in the Scottish Parliament to “level the playing field” in this respect.

As for complaints being made to the SIC planning department: why should it fall to the public to police breaches of conditions? We pay with our taxes for the department – and other statutory bodies, such as SEPA and SNH – to monitor and enforce the law, each in their respective remits.

And when a complaint – or enquiry – is made, what are we to make of the sort of response below?

“With regards to the Planning permission aspect, as you are aware a Planning application has been submitted and in such situations where a developer has lodged a planning application and this application is progressing satisfactorily through the process, this makes it difficult for the Planning Authority to take any enforcement action as this could be regarded as acting unreasonably. In this situation, the risk is with the developer, should it transpire that planning permission is not granted for the development then the Planning Authority would be in a position to reasonably undertake enforcement action if deemed necessary.”

I assure you this is not made up. It came from Shetland Islands Council in answer to an enquiry about recent Viking Energy activity and its proposed compound at the Scord of Tresta.

James Mackenzie
Sustainable Shetland

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.