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Community / ‘Jolly summer picnic’ held in protest against Viking Energy wind farm

Summer picnic organiser Laurie Goodlad: 'making a stand'. Photo: Kevin Learmonth

AROUND 50 islanders expressed their opposition to the Viking Energy wind farm on Friday when they staged a “jolly summer picnic” next to the construction site at the Upper Kergord valley.

The protesters said they were concerned with the amount of peat that was being extracted, as peat is regarded as a valuable carbon sink and should not be disturbed to build a renewable energy project on.

Around 50 people joined a summer picnic at the access track building site. Photo: Laurie Goodlad

Organiser Laurie Goodlad said the protest had been good humoured and there had been no confrontation with workers on the construction site.

She had been warned by police earlier in the week that should protesters attempt to interfere with the works they would run the risk of being arrested.

SSE Renewables is preparing to commence construction of the hugely controversial 443MW Viking Energy wind farm in the central mainland of Shetland after announcing its decision last month to invest £580 million in the project.

Work on the access track to the Kergord converter station restarted earlier in July after coming to a halt in March due to Covid-19.

Goodlad said people in the area never had a real say in the project which received planning consent from the Scottish Government in April 2012, more than eight years ago.

“We all found a nice picnic spot in Upper Kergord, enjoyed some sandwiches and teas and flew some kites. There was quite a lot of heavy traffic,” she said.

“Since the initial planning started ten years ago things have moved on and there is a lot of new evidence suggesting that disrupting the peats is much more damaging for the environment than what was previously thought.

“We wanted to make a stand to let people know that this is not something that we approve of and that we feel that this happens without public consultation.

“We are planning to have more of these picnics and we will be making future picnics more public to allow more people to attend.”