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Energy / Energy Isles wind farm proposal to face opposition

Norwegian company Statkraft plans to develop a 18 turbine wind farm in Yell. This image is a visualisation of what it could look like. Photo: Energy Isles

LOCAL campaign group Sustainable Shetland says it hopes a public inquiry will be called as part of the 160MW Energy Isles wind farm planning process.

Last week, the companies behind the project on the island of Yell said that final plans for the wind farm had been submitted to the Scottish Government’s energy consents unit.

Because the onshore development is larger than 50MW in size, the government rather than the local authority will take the planning decision.

Shetland Islands Council will however be a mandatory consultee during this process, and campaigners hope the council will oppose the development, a move that would trigger a public local inquiry (PLI).

Referring to the decision in December 2010 when councillors decided to support the Viking Energy application against the recommendation of its own planning department, Sustainable Shetland chairman Frank Hay said the group hopes the council will act differently this time.

“The proposal is still grossly out of scale to the surrounding landscape and serious environmental issues remain, notably the fact that much of the site is pristine peatland,” he said.

“Yell is a relatively small island and together with the already consented Beaw Field wind farm the cumulative effect would, in our opinion, be unacceptable.

“We would hope that the SIC will not make it possible for the Scottish Government to approve this without a public inquiry, unlike Viking Energy, this wind farm should not get the go ahead without one.”

Energy Isles, a consortium of a group of local businesses and Norwegian utility Statkraft, said its plans for the wind farm have been receiving strong support from local people. The project is expected to pay out around £800,000 in community benefits to the North Isles each year.

But Hay accused the developer on gambling on receiving huge amount of constraint payments, which are paid by the National Grid when more electricity is available than can be used by the grid.

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“Clearly any energy produced will be entirely for transmission to mainland Scotland. Without doubt, the developer is seeking to also cash in on constraint payments with a switching station recently being proposed for Yell to facilitate the constraining off process,” he said.

“A proposal like this will represent extremely poor value for money for consumers who ultimately foot the bill for projects like these.

“This is another example of a ruthless developer taking advantage of locals who should have known better.”

Electricity demand in the UK fell by 13 per cent in the second quarter of the year while renewables made up 40 per cent of the power mix, according to a report from the Imperial College London.

It also said that during a weekend in May the national grid’s carbon intensity reached a record low of 21 grams of CO2 per kilowatt/hour.

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