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Energy / Viking Energy focused on current plans as campaign group worried area around Scatsta could become ‘prime target’ for more turbines

How the Viking Energy wind farm might look from the Billister and Laxfirth road at North Nesting.How the Viking Energy wind farm might look from the Billister and Laxfirth road at North Nesting.

VIKING Energy says its focus remains on the 103 turbines it already has consent for after the chairman of campaign group Sustainable Shetland speculated that land near Scatsta Airport could become a “prime target” for a possible extension to the wind farm.

The wind farm developer initially proposed 150 turbines but that number was reduced to 103 when turbines in the Delting and Collafirth areas were removed from the plans.

A total of 24 turbines were originally proposed for the hills to the east of Brae and Scatsta, but they never received consent due to the potential effect on aviation at Scatsta Airport.

Now that the airport is closing, Sustainable Shetland chairman Frank Hay has speculated that developer SSE could look to extend the wind farm back into the area.

“Extension applications have become commonplace on the mainland of Scotland,” he said.

Scatsta Airport. Photo: Shetland NewsScatsta Airport. Photo: Shetland News

“SSE is indeed a ruthless developer who will seek to maximise possible returns from their projects with scant regard for the local residents or the environmental impacts of what they do.”

In response, a spokesperson for Viking Energy Wind Farm said that its focus remains on the 103 turbines in the central mainland which already have approval.

“Our focus at this time is on delivering the consented Viking Wind Farm which will bring much-needed and substantial investment to the islands’ fragile economy, with significant employment opportunities during construction and operation and millions earned in community income every year,” they said.

Viking applied for consent from the Scottish Government in 2012 for 127 turbines.

That figure was reduced to the current 103 turbines as the government said it could not give consent for the 24 turbines in the Delting area due to the “apparently insurmountable aviation issues”.

Wind farm backer SSE, meanwhile, has now sought to discharge a condition on the consented development regarding aviation mitigation measures as it considers it is no longer required as a result of Scatsta closing.

The team behind the proposed Shetland Space Centre, however, recently said they are keen to take on the airfield, with flights part of their thinking.

Space centre team keen to bring Scatsta Airport ‘back to life’

The airport’s licence is due to be handed back to the Civil Aviation Authority on 30 June, but its last flights have already taken off.

Earlier this month SSE said it would plough £580 million of capital into the Viking Energy wind farm – a decision which could give the green light for a 600MW interconnector to be installed between Shetland and the Scottish mainland.

Peel Energy, meanwhile, which has consent for two smaller wind farms in Yell and on the outskirts of Lerwick, has welcomed SSE’s decision.

Development director at Peel L&P Energy Rob Tate said: “We’re pleased to see that the Viking Wind Farm has now reached a financial investment decision and look forward to Ofgem approving the final needs case for the subsea transmission link which will act as the catalyst for our Beaw Field and Mossy Hill wind farms in the Shetland Islands.”