As Shetland Community Benefit Fund (SCBF) takes no view itself on the rights or wrongs of any renewable development, only wishing to get as good a benefit fund as possible for the islands if they do happen, I will make no comment on Tom Morton’s opinion piece on Shetland News on Sunday (Welcome to Turbineland; SN, 1 September 2019) other than correct a couple of statements.
I’m a little surprised a journalist like Tom doesn’t understand the difference between Shetland Charitable Trust and SCBF. One is a major charity set up by the council to invest and use income from Sullom Voe, the other is an independent company set up and run by Shetland’s community councils to run community benefit funds from commercial renewable energy developments in the islands.
His article confuses Shetland Charitable Trust with SCBF. I have no idea how much money the trust now expects to receive from its investment in Viking Energy or how it might use it.
But the £7,000 a year he mentions for Northmaven Community Council would come from SCBF, not SCT, if Viking goes ahead. This would be part of a proposal that would see 14 community councils getting about £7,000 a year and the four areas with turbines about £35,000 a year.
The balance of the annual income of about £2,200,000 a year – or something like £75 million over 25 years with index-linking for inflation – would be used to run schemes throughout the islands to develop and sustain our local communities and economy through grants, loans or investments.
SCBF also hopes that our negotiations might bring more money for community councils and that other commercial developers will agree benefit funds that can be similarly used throughout the islands.
Finally Tom appears to see SCBF as “a small band of retired gentlemen”. That might describe myself but certainly not all other directors of SCBF who are nominated by community councils.
While I can tell they are not all male, I haven’t checked their employment status although, as many retired people will tell you, retirement can sometimes seem busier than when in employment.