AN EXTRA £1.6 million could potentially be paid out through the Viking Energy wind farm in community benefit money over the lifetime over the scheme after its proposed terms were altered slightly.
The full annual benefit payment of over £2 million a year for community projects will now only be paid once the planned wind farm exports power, instead of at the start of construction as previously suggested.
However, the team behind the proposed 103-turbine wind farm are now offering to pay £400,000 a year of additional money during the construction of the development.
This is expected to last around four years, meaning there could in effect be around £1.6 million extra coming its way to the Shetland Community Benefit Fund.
This is, of course, all dependent on the controversial 457MW SSE wind farm actually getting the go-ahead.
The benefit fund scheme is due to last 25 years and previously the proposals were for the full annual whack to be paid out from the start of the construction phase and into the wind farm’s operation.
Shetland Community Benefit Fund chair Chris Bunyan said the now-proposed £400,000 a year during construction would come on top of the 25 years of full payouts and is in effect additional “new money”.
SSE is expected to pay £5,000 per installed megawatt capacity in community benefit cash a year, meaning it could herald an annual payout to Shetland of around £2.2 million.
The money would be put towards community projects, while up to 10 per cent of the annual payment is set to be allocated directly to community councils across the isles, with areas featuring turbines in line to receive a greater share.
Bunyan, who chairs the benefit fund which the money would be paid into and then disbursed from, said the new proposals equates to “slightly more in hard cash”.
“The main scheme is delayed until they finish building, but in the time it’s being built, we get some extra money,” he explained.
“It would also allow us to do the vast quantity of work that’s needed before we open our doors and we can actually start the main fund properly, in terms of preparing business plans, consulting and that sort of thing.
“It is a vast amount of work that needs to be done.”
Bunyan and the fund’s secretary Neville Martin, meanwhile, recently went to the Scottish mainland on an SSE-funded trip to learn more about other groups and organisations that manage community benefit funds.
“It was very encouraging to see how enterprising these groups have been and to get their advice on things to do and things not to do,” Bunyan said.
Shetland Community Benefit Fund Ltd is a cooperative which was formed by the Association of Shetland Community Councils in the early days of the Viking Energy project, with community councils having a representative to its board.
The fund is primarily dedicated to receiving income from the Viking development, but it has held talks with Peel Energy, which has consent for smaller wind farms in Yell and outside of Lerwick. However, no agreement has yet been reached with the Manchester-based developer.
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 440 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.Support Shetland News