I’d like to congratulate Brian Smith on his recent letter A council seminar might do the trick (SN 27 October 2019).
I think Brian is entirely right in his assessment of the recent contributions of Sustainable Shetland. The comment piece he praised from James Mackenzie (Shetland has again all eggs in one basket; SN, 11 October 2019) is unassailable and the open letter to SIC councillors (Call for wind farms impact assessment on island communities; SN, 25 October 2019) must not be ignored.
This council can’t allow its hands to be tied by the decisions of previous councils with regard to Viking Energy and other wannabe subsidy-farming, peat-destroying wind farms, especially when those decisions have been shown to be wrongheaded.
So Brian is quite right to say it is dispiriting councillors don’t seem to know what to do. But it is not that tricky. They need to use the Islands Act to put the brakes on and then work to ensure Shetland can be protected from an environmentally harmful and unsustainable energy strategy that could be being subtly ushered along behind the scenes by the company that now owns Viking Energy.
And, lets face it, that under-scrutinised sale came along at a convenient time. This aside, and with all the distorting shenanigans (presumably) happily now in the past, Shetland’s optimum future energy mix needs to be considered anew. A liberal dose of imagination from the sidelines will plainly be needed to keep the distorting influence of vested interests at bay.
Our councillors each have a responsibility they cannot shirk. They should each engage with the coherent arguments put forwards to them by Sustainable Shetland and determine their own positions. Doing nothing is not an option. It is time for them to get the ball rolling, or, as our cousins to the west would say, get off the pot.
An independent commission might do the trick. There will be university departments aching to advise. And a council seminar might well be the best starting point.
But, and I’ll say it again, Shetland can be protected from an environmentally harmful and unsustainable energy strategy, and our councillors have a responsibility they cannot shirk. Endless inaction won’t be forgiven.