This morning (Monday) at 8am the first of today’s airborne assault on the hills flew over our house. Subsequent flights seemed to be carrying buckets – I assume that SSE/VE have not finished concreting the hill just yet.
I personally welcome Tom Morton’s Damascene view (Welcome to Turbineland; SN, 1 September 2019) even though it is too late to influence proceedings.
Given the expenditure that SSE have recently gone to, it is likely that they expect a ‘positive’ decision from government. Goodness knows how they pretend to believe yet alone convince people that this scheme benefits this remote community, but there you are.
What saddens me is the disenfranchising of the people who live here: The avoiding of an independent review, which was done with the complicit support of local ‘worthies’ and explicit use of process and law, inappropriate though it may have been, has destroyed any chance of reconciliation which would have been completed in a reasonable time scale.
That would have given a resolution that would have helped people; people with strongly held views, to move on. Such reviews favour the developer, I believe, so I’m afraid if SSE and the local council, and the few private developers who are part of and will greatly benefit from the project, went to such measures to avoid Independent scrutiny then they could not be confident of the result.
The charitable trust was never in a position to see the development through and given that the structure of the trust was heavily criticised at that time because councillors’ conflict of interest, it is a disgrace that the charitable trust allowed SSE to badge this as a ‘community development’. Shame on them.
When the compromised council then ignored the body of opinion who opposed the development and decided to allow the submission, relying on hastily fabricated ‘benefits to the community, employment generation, environmental restitution and so on, they let us all, and themselves, down. This decision was shown to be important in subsequent legal proceedings, to the advantage of SSE. Shame on them.
Fergus Ewing dallied before giving ministerial approval to hand the islands over as dowry but in the end agreed. Shame on him.
The majority of politicians have tried to keep this acrimonious debate at arms length instead on engaging with it. Shame on them.
There has been criticism of Sustainable Shetland for its involvement in the proceedings. This group have not had access to the deep pockets of the charitable trust and VE but have tried to put a counter view.
Personally I think that they should be recognised for trying to engage the community and the proponents of the shame in constructive scrutiny. Their resolve when faced with a giant company familiar with crushing local objection whose reputation for business practice and customer service has been called into question and criticised has been and still is refreshing.
I suspect that the reason that the most recent VE roadshows were poorly attended was because, like me, local residents were sitting, head in hands, repeating ‘how has it come to this?’
Dr Jim Unsworth
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