A LARGE construction compound near to the Halfway House at Sandwater which would be used during the construction of the Viking Energy wind farm has received planning permission from Shetland Islands Council.
The temporary site opposite Sandwater Loch off the A970 would be up to 250m by 250m in size, and it could be used for five years.
It would be the main compound out of three which have been proposed.
Offices, workshops, a canteen and other welfare services will be provided for the workforce along with a laydown area for storing plant, fuel, equipment and supplies during the four-year construction of the wind farm.
Work on the main compound and its access track is expected to start later this year as an early part of the main construction programme for the wind farm. A civil engineering contractor will be appointed in the coming weeks.
The construction of temporary construction compounds is included as part of the wind farm’s existing consent, but new planning applications were submitted after Viking identified a requirement to increase the size of the compounds.
Shetland Islands Council’s planning service wrote in its decision: “It is concluded that the proposal is acceptable in terms of its location, scale, design and form on the basis of its use as a construction compound for the development of the Viking wind farm, and that its development and use for a five year period whilst the construction of the Viking wind farm takes place will not give rise to any significant or unacceptable environmental effects.”
The approval comes with 22 conditions aimed at mitigating the impact of the development.
It comes after project backer SSE confirmed its intention last week to pledge £580 million to fund the wind farm.
Chairman of campaign group Sustainable Shetland Frank Hay said he felt it was “no surprise” to see the permission granted.
The group had previously objected to all three compounds on issues like siting, access, landscape and ecology.
Hay said it was “impeccable timing, just after the SSE final investment decision was made public”, and claimed that “SSE’s bullying tactics appear to be working”.
He added that comments from the RSPB made during the application showed “how questionable the site chosen for the compound is”.
“The conditions attached to this planning approval are very unlikely to mitigate against the damage which could be done to the environment there,” Hay claimed.
The track will also form the main access route into the eastern section of the wind farm and will be open to the public to use for walking, cycling and horse-riding once the wind farm is complete in 2024.
A Viking Energy Wind Farm spokesperson said: “We are pleased to receive planning permission for the compound and hope that many Shetlanders and visitors will enjoy making use of the access tracks throughout the wind farm, once completed, for recreation and to visit parts of the islands that few people will have been through before.
“By then, the construction compound will have been removed and the ground reinstated.”
Plans for a larger compound near Tresta were shelved following concerns over sensitive plant life discovered in the area.
Viking Energy withdrew the application and plans to use a compound half the size nearby.
The developer also has a planning application in for a third compound south of Voe.
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